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The Town of Smolyan

Smolyan is a small town in southern part of Bulgaria near the border of Greece. It is mostly known as a ski resort with a beautiful natural landscape and a popular tourist destination. The population is about 30,000, but it is larger during some parts of the year common due to it’s reputation for having many visitors. It is only a three hour drive from Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city.

Although it dates back to the second millennium B.C., the town was named by a Slavic tribe called Smolyani around the 7th century. During the middle ages, both Bulgaria and Byzantine ruled the city until it eventually fell into the hands of the Ottomans and stayed that way until the beginning of 20th century. During the Ottoman rule, Smolyan was called Pashmakli.

Smolyan is located in the valley of two rivers, Cherna and Byala, meaning Black and White river. The nature around Smolyan is amazing: forests, uprising mountains, and nearby Smolyan lakes make this city perfect place for vacation. If you did not already know, Smolyan is the highest town in Bulgaria and sits 1,010 meters above the sea level.

Smolyan lakes are 10 kilometers from the center of town, and they are one of the most amazing sites you will ever see. They are referred to as “emerald eyes”, and there are seven of them. They are very popular natural wonders and many tourists come to visit them each year.

Snejanka peak which rises above the town is connected with a rope lift, and you have to see the panorama view from it. Snejanka peak is 1,926 meters high and dominates the environment and nature around it, so you can imagine what view is able to be seen from her sides.

Around twenty caves are in this region. The most well- known are Golubovitsa and Uhlovitsa. Golubovitsa has a water lake in it, and Uhlovitsa has rock formations with various shapes. Both of them are very interesting places to see.

The majority of inhabitants are Bulgarians, so Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the major religion in this region. The biggest church in this region of Bulgaria is in Smolyan, the church of Saint Vissarion of Smolyan. However, the Pomak Muslim community also is notable here, which makes for a multi-ethnic environment.

The Bulgarian National Observatory is nearby, and the town also has the Rhodope drama theater.  Every summer there is an event called The Rodopi International Theater Laboratory where many actors from around the world gather here for one month to work with students and each other.

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