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Pamporovo Ski Resort and the Charming Rhodopi Moun

Click here to view a map of Pamporovo area

Location

Pamporovo ski resort is located in the Southern part of Bulgaria near the border with Greece (and the White Sea), in the heart of the Rhodopi Mountains, 260 km south-east of Sofia, 85 km south of Plovdiv and 15 km from Smolyan. Its main aattractions are the good ski facilities and natural beauty together with the proximity of very picturesque villages with old stone houses. Somewhat more tarnished than modern Bansko, it is still a delightful place to ski with stunning scenery.

Ski facilities

Pamporovo resort has been compared to the 'Sunny Beach' of the ski resorts. It is basically a planned development set around several hotels and complexes with interlinking roads and access to several ski lifts. With its highest peaks at around 1900m the mountains are slightly less alpine than Bankso's Pirin Mountains. This reduces the ski season slightly to around 3 months though there are plenty of year round tourism opportunities.

Pamporovo is the ski resort for skiers of all levels and is recommended as a good place for both beginners, as well as more experienced skiers. There some competition slopes and an adequate ski lift system. The slopes range from 1,926 m to 1,450 m altitude on the Northern, Eastern and Western slopes of Snejanka peak and most of the ski runs actually start from the top of the peak. There are also three trails for cross-country skiing. The resort offers a Ski Kindergarten that is open from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm every day.

Climate

Pamporovo, is reputed to be the sunniest mountain resort in Bulgaria. The resort enjoys more than 240 days of sunshine a year. Its climate is mild with the perceptible influence of the Mediterranean. Pamporovo, as a part of the Rhodopi Mountains is a unique place, famous for its negative air ionisation – being extremely beneficial to health. The average annual temperature there is 8.5°С and the blanket of snow in winter is between 140 and 150 cm.

Places of interest

The region is also famous for its folklore traditions as well as being popular with skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, hunters, fishing enthusiasts, horse riders and mountain trekkers.

Pedestrian routes to the top of Rojen and the Smolyan Lakes – ‘the emerald eyes’ of the Rhodopi mountains, as these lakes are known to the local people, line up in close proximity to the city of Smolyan. Once there were about twenty but only seven of them still remain. The Seven Lakes walk is a good days walking but well worth the effort. There are also worthwhile trips to the village of Stoykite and the picturesque Rocks of Orpheus.

The Rhodopi Mountains have long been full of mystery and enchantment. The mythical singer Orpheus is said to have originated here as are the clan of guards of the famous Sanctuary of Dionysus. Archaeological excavations have dated civilization in the area from around the 7th century BC. The remains of ancient Thracian fortresses have been found in the area which reveal a highly developed culture for the time. The fortresses were said to have guarded a Thracian road that ran from the town of Abdera on the Aegean Sea to the Danube River.

The village of Trigrad with its awesome gorge and caves, is the star attraction in the South-Western Rhodopi, 30 km south of Devin. The Trigrad Gorge is one of the most spectacular vistas in Bulgaria, its sheer walls overhanging the foaming Trigradska river, which disappears into the fantastic Devil's Throat cave, accessible via a 150-metre-long tunnel. The thunder of water can be heard long before you see a huge waterfall that vanishes into the canyon through the enormous Roaring Hall. The wild terrain surrounding the sprawling village of Trigrad, abounds in caves - 102 identified so far. Trigrad is a starting point for horseback riding, biking, and hiking to the village of Mugla and the Yagodinska cave famous for its unique cave pearls and other formations, as well as for the yielded 7000 years old Neolithic implements.

The Wonder Bridges is a natural phenomenon. Its name comes from a giant natural bridge that stretches over a small river, formed when an old cave was destroyed by an earthquake. Bachkovo Monastery is the second largest monastery in Bulgaria. The monastery was founded in 1083 by a Byzantine military commander of Georgian origin. Only the two-storey bone-vault, which lies about 300m to the east of the present-day complex, remains from that time. The bone-vault is a must-see building there, for its unique wall-paintings which rank among the most valuable works of Orthodox art of the 11th -12th centuries AD. The village of Shiroka Luka (about 10 minutes drive from Pamporovo) is declared as unique architectural and ethnographic reserve for its 110 listed buildings. It is also famous for one of the two schools for Bulgarian folklore music and dances. 

Smolyan

The town of Smolyan (15 km from Pamporovo) is becoming a popular base for home buying in the Rhodope though parts of the town are somewhat modern. There are however, several preserved houses from the Bulgarian revival such as Mermovata and Pridasova houses. The arc bridge over Cherna River was built in 18th century. The historical museum of the Middle parts of the Rhodopi Mountains, the biggest Planetarium in Bulgaria and The Rhodopi Theatre of Drama are also places to be visited.

The town of Chepelare is situated 10 km from Pamporovo is another favoured buying spot. The period of the Bulgarian Revival (1762-1878) saw a flurry of cultural and educational achievements for the Chepelare region. Numerous religious complexes were constructed during this time of which 14 churches and 72 chapels still remain. Chepelare is the centre of the Bulgarian School of Biathlon which is the sport that brought the only Winter Olympic title to Bulgaria. Some of the cultural and historical landmarks located in the Chepelare area are the Fortress Tsirikova Church located on a peak 0.5 km southeast of the village of Orehevo and an ancient Thracian settlement in the cave Tyovnata Dupka, which is 2 km east of Zabardo village.

An apartment in nearby Smolyan will cost you around 700 euro sq m whilst in Pamporovo itself prices for finished apartments can be bought from 900 euro sq m.

'Super Pamporovo'

As elsewhere in Bulgaria, things are changing fast. The Super Perelik (or Super Pamporovo) project will link the existing facilities at Pamporovo to the Perelik Peak. In addition a new cross border road through this region has been approved for EU funding. The new road will head south through the mountains to the Greek border with the aim of improving cross border travel between the two EU neighbours, Bulgaria and Greece. The road will bring significant benefits to the region and greatly enhance the accessibility of the region and the Pamporovo resort. For property buyers, two obvious advantages would be access to the International Airport at Thessaloníki, and access to the beaches along the Halkidiki region. Although the road is sometime away, the decision to go ahead has been confirmed. Much of Pamporovo's future as a place to invest lies in the Super Perelik project and in the new cross border road. However, there are still many infrastructure issues to resolve and any investor should proceed on the basis that not all the agent's claims for 'Super Pamporovo' may be guaranteed.

City of Plovdiv and the region

Bulgaria's second largest city Plovdiv is located 75 km from Pamporovo. This is one of the most attractive and vibrant centres in the country. It is a picturesque city with many parks and gardens, museums and archaeological monuments. Plovdiv is situated on the Maritza River and combines an interesting past with a lively present. From the city's ancient buildings - the city forum, the stadium, the amphitheatre of Philip II of Macedonia (Alexander the Great's father founded the City as Philipopolis), basilicas, hot springs, residences - mostly fragments remain today Columns, capitals, friezes, mosaics, bas-reliefs and street pavements mark the city landscape. However, the 2nd-century Amphitheatr 3,000, has been completely restored and is hosting outdoor performances.

Plovdiv hosts the largest trade fair in Bulgaria where businesses gather from all over the world between May to September. Amongst the most interesting of these is the International Vineria or Wine Fair in March. This is the largest wine fair in Eastern Europe and well worth visiting to take a break from a house hunting for a few hours!.

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