The Rhodopes (/ˈrɒdəpiːz/; Bulgarian: Родопи, Rodopi; Greek: Ροδόπη, Rodopi) are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Golyam Perelik is its highest peak at 2,191 meters (7,188 ft). The mountain range gives its name to the terrestrial ecoregion Rodope montane mixed forests that belongs in the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome and the Palearctic realm. The region is particularly notable for its karst areas with their deep river gorges, large caves and specific sculptured forms, such as the Trigrad Gorge.
A significant part of Bulgaria’s hydropower resources are located in the western areas of the range. There are a number of hydro-cascades and dams used for electricity production, irrigation, and as tourist destinations. In Greece, there are also the hydroelectric power plants of Thisavros and Platanovrysi. The Rhodopes have a rich cultural heritage including ancient Thracian sites such as Perperikon, Tatul and Belintash, and medieval castles, churches, monasteries, and picturesque villages with traditional Bulgarian architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world
The name of the Rhodope Mountains is of Thracian origin. Rhod-ope (Род-oпа) is interpreted as the first name of a river, meaning “rusty/reddish river”, where Rhod- has the same Indo-European root as the Bulgarian “руда” (ore, “ruda”), “ръжда” (rust, “rǎžda”), “риж” (red-haired, “riž”), Latin “rufus” (red), German “rot” (red), English “red”, Greek ροδ- (rodh).
The mountains are also associated with the mythic figure of Orpheus.
In the Middle Ages, the mountains were known as the Slavey Mountains (Slaveyev Mountains), and under Ottoman rule were known as the Dospatsky Mountains, after the Dospat Municipality and Dospat River.