Bulgaria – Blagoevgrad
Melnik is the smallest town of Bulgaria located in the province of Blagoevgrad with a population of less than 400. Standing at an altitude of 440m , it is a cultural reserve with 96 of its buildings labelled as cultural monuments. The town is unique for its landscape which is surrounded by natural sand pyramids and legacy architecture left by different empires in history.
The town of Melnik with the sand pyramids
Image attribution to klearchos @ Flickr
The Byzantine House
Walkway in between the town
The first to settle in the town of Melnik are the Thracian tribe of Medi after which they were conquered by the Romans centuries later. The Slavs came in later and Melnik became a part of the first Bulgarian Empire under the rule of Khan Presian I where it became the capital of an independent feudal principality ruled by Despot Alexius Slave during the early 13th century. Melnik then came under the control of the Ottoman empire during the 14th and 15th century and sufferred long periods of decline before flourishing again from its tobacco and wine production. The town was famous for producing strong wine and the Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of Uk was reportedly a fan of the town’s local wine production.
Sveta Barbara Church
Image attribution to furbyx4 @ Flickr
Image attribution to homohominilupus @ Flickr
Despot Slav Fortress
Image attribution to Klearchos @ Flickr
Getting there :
The nearest international airport to Melnik is the Sofia Airport (SOF) followed by a bus journey of around 180 km to the town. Do note that there might be only one trip / day by bus to Melnik.