Melnik is a typical small town in southwestern Bulgaria. It’s well hidden in Pirin mountain – the most beautiful mountain in Bulgaria. Melnik is the smallest town but the impressive ammount of 96 buildings have been declared as cultural monuments and the whole town is an architectural reserve. Needless to say, Melnik is unpopular, but must-see place in Bulgaria. The town is famous mostly with its surrounding natural sand pyramids. However, there are many more things to see in Melnik.
On of them is the Kordopulov House. It is the biggest house on the Balkans from the Revival period. It is currently a house-museum which consists of a ground floor with excavited basements for wine, half-floor, bay floor for residence and a summer balcony. The entrance fee is around 1-2 euros and is open every day through the year. Official website: kordopulova-house [dot] com
Another house that is worht visiting is Bolyarska house. It was built in the first half of the 13-th century and is now a monument of Bulgarian medieval housing architecture of national value.
There are around 8 churches and monasteries in Melnik, a history museum in Pashov house, and many architectural beauties so you won’t be bored when you get there.
Melnik is also famous with its wine. There is a big chance that a standart walking tour in Melnik to become a wine tour. An interesting stop is the Shestaka’s wine cellar – a family of wine producers which produces the famous Melnik wine.
Just a few km away from Melnik are Rozhen and the Rozhen Monastery, the city of Sandanski, Kashina Falls and Rupite Area. Rozhen Monastery is the biggest Orthodox Monastery in the Pirin mountains. Every four years for two days in July-August Rozhen hosts a National Folklore Fair where thousands of people from Bulgaria and the Balkans gather together to popularize Balkan folklore. The next Rozhen Fair is happening on July 17th 2015.
Sandanski is the nearest big city and it’s perfect for afternoon walk on the central alley. It’s famous with its hot mineral springs. The city is surrounded by the beautiful Pirin mountain which can be seen from anywhere. Kashina Falls are 20 m high and are a nice place for a picnik. Rupite Area is a complex with a nice park. Along with the church “Saint Petka of Bulgaria” the place memorize the life of the famous Bulgarian clairvoyant Vanga who passed the last years of her life there.
The Pyramids of Melnik are a well known site in Bulgaria but are not famous among tourists. They are unique natural, sand pyramids formed because of the soil erosion. Again, we are speacheless in front of Mother Nature. The height of the sand formations is up to 100 m and they are always changing in the course of time. You can see the pyramids from Melnik, but they are closer to Karlanovo village where a lodging is available.
How to get from Sofia to Melnik
Melnik is situated in Blagoevgrad region in a mountain area. It’s 175 km away from Sofia, and22 km away from Sandanski, the nearest big town. You can get there by train, by bus or by car.
Melnik is 175 km away from Sofia. If you are travelling from the capital, you can take the route 1/E79 to Kulata/Dupnitsa. You have to pass by the cities of Dupnitsa, Blagoevgrad and Sandanski. After around 140 km exit onto Route 109 and there are only 10 km left to Melnik. You will pass by the villages Spatovo, Hotovo and Lozenitsa.
There are many buses from Sofia to Sandanski all day long. You can check out the carrier Union Ivkoni (union-ivkoni [dot] com). From Sandanski you can take the bus to Melnik at 11:40 am to have time for walk in the city. While you are at the bus station in Sandanski check out the buses to Sofia. The last one is at around 17:00.
You can take the train to Sandanski from Sofia Central Train Station. There are trains to Sandanski at 7:05 am, 11:40 am, 14:15, 15:15, 17:00 (as of Feburary, 2015). The duration is around 3 and a half hours. From Sandanski you can take the bus to Melnik or rent a car in the city. The trains from Sandanski to Sofia leave at 05:52 am, 07:21 am, 10:48 am, 14:45, 17:37. The website of Bulgarian State Railways is bdz.bg/index-en.php.
Have you seen something similar in other countries? I would love to know!