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The smallest town in Bulgaria (208 residents), Melnik, is nested in the south slopes of Pirin, among sand pyramids with queer forms. It is situated in the Sandanski Municipality, Blagoevgrad county, 175 km north from Sofia, and it is only 30 km from the borderline with Greece. The finds from the antiquity discovered upon the archaeological diggings testify for its centuries-old history. The first written pieces of evidence for the Melnik Fortress refer to the beginning of the 11th century. The first settlers on the territory of contemporary Melnik were the Thracians, and more particularly the Thracian tribe Maedi, of which the legendary rebel Spartacus originated. A few centuries later, the Romans lived on this ground. This proves the ancient Roman bridge, which is still preserved in the town of Melnik. The Slavs, who were consequently residing on this territory, had called their settlement Melnik, because of the surrounding sand pyramids. The name comes from the Slavonic word “mel”, which means white clay, crayon. In 1215 Melnik turned into a capital of an independent feudal principality, ruled by Despot Alexius Slav. The ruins of his fortress are preserved to the present days, near the town. In 1395 the Bulgarian lands, as well as Melnik, fell under Ottoman Dominion for 5 centuries. Melnik remained within the borders of the Ottoman Empire until 1912. During the 18th century, in the age of the Bulgarian Revival, the town was raised for a new life. Melnik turned into a blooming, significant in size and population town, with a large market. The local tradespeople were selling their goods in Budapest, Wien, Genoa, Venice. Melnik also became famous in entire Europe for its good wine, with which it is famous even nowadays.
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Rila Monastery, or rather the Treasury of Bulgaria, is blooming like an evergreen and magnificent flower in the bosom of Rila Mountain, in the place where the rivers Drushlyavitsa and Rilska join.
Founded in the first half of 10 c. by the heavenly protector of the Bulgarians Saint John of Rila, the monastery is a cradle, a pillar and a repository of the Bulgarian spirit even today.
While the records about the fate of the relics of Saint John from 10 c. to 14 c. are detailed, for the Rila Monastery itself they are scarce. Since 11 c. until today in the monastery book depository MS books have been kept, such as the glagolic transcript of the notable “Exhortation” by Saint Ephrem of Syria, which testifies for perpetual literary activity. In the roya decree (certificate for donation) of king Ivan Shishman (1371 – 1393) it is said the Bulgarian rulers – the kings Ivan Asen II (1218 – 1241) and his successor Kaloman (1241 –1245) confirmed the estates and the rights of the monastery, and they honored it as holy place and place of worship.
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Rise and shine
9:00 - Departure from your accommodation.
11.00 - Arrival in the town of Melnik, followed by the guided tour in the area. Visit the Kordopulova house with wine degustation. Lunch.
13.00 - Departure from Melnik and heading to Rila Monastery.
15.00 - Guided tour of the monastery complex and free time to explore it further on your own.
17:30 - Departure from Rila Monastery and heading to Sofia.
19:30 - Arrival at the starting point of the tour.
More about this tour
- You can use your own insurance or we can arrange it for you through our partners.
- Listed price is for two people / per person.
- This tour/activity will have a maximum of 15 travelers
- Hotel pick-up costs an additional 5/10 Euro per reservation, depending on the location of your hotel.
Please ask us about our group discounts.
Covid19 Update: Restaurants in the area have limited capacity until further notice, due to the state of emergency in Bulgaria.
It’s recommended that you check with us prior to your trip or go to this link for up to date information. You can also prepare sandwiches or small snacks sold everywhere in Sofia.
Attire: The weather conditions can change very rapidly. We advise you to pack some warm clothing even during the summer months. Comfortable shoes are recommended as some of the streets are cobbled.
Photos are allowed everywhere with the exception of churches and monasteries.
Cash is important
Please have cash with you as not all places accept debit / credit cards and ATMs.
There are numerous restaurants in the area that offer authentic food. We will have time to stop and enjoy a nice lunch for the multi-day tours and at certain instances in the daily tours.
Cancellation policy - we offer free cancellation and a full refund*
- Daily tours
- If you are unable to attend a daily tour and let us know 24 hours in advance we will provide you with a full refund. We will try to accommodate any changes at the last moment, but we cannot guarantee it.
- If you are unable to attend a multi-day tour please let us know as early as possible. The refunds are listed below
- Up to 30 days before the start date -> 100%
- Up to 21 days before the start date -> 70%
- Up to 14 days before the start date -> 50%
- Less than 14 days before the start date - unfortunately we will not be able to refund you
- No shows are fully charged
- The experience requires a minimum of travelers. If it’s canceled we will offer you another experience or fully refund your money.