The town of Smolyan is the district centre with a population of 32 000 inhabitants lying at a distance of 250 km southeast of Sofia. The town is a municipal centre of 85 settlements. Smolyan is situated along the valley widening at Cherna Reka River known as the Smolyan Valley. It is surrounded by green meadows and centuries-old forests. The settlement was known under the name of Pashmakli until 1934. The town's present-day name comes from the Slav tribe of Smolyani which populated the region in IX century. The town was formed in 1960 with the merging of three villages - Smolyan, Raykovo and Ustovo.
The earliest archaeological evidence of the region dates back to the end of the Bronze Age from XIII c. B.C. During the next two millennia the ancient authors assume that Rhodope Mountains is a sacred Thracian mountain. Smolyan is the successor of the ancient village of Ezerovo which lies at a distance of 3 km from the present-day town. During the period of forced conversion to the Muslim religion in XVII c. the settlement was destroyed and the survivals settled by the Cherna River. Smolyan and the district remained under the Ottoman yoke until 1912.
Tourist sights of the region are: the architectural complex in the village of Dolno Raykovo, the Tibol neighbourhood in Dolno Raykovo, the Revival period quarter in the region of Ustovo, the Pangalov's house, the Ai Bey Konak/ old town hall/, the Cheshit neighbourhood and fountain, the churches " Sveta Bogoroditza" /Holy Virgin/ (1836), " St. Nikola" (1836), "St. Nedelya" and "Holy Spirit"/ with the only wooden bell-tower in the region/ and other.
Shiroka Laka in the Municipality of Smolyan is an architectural reserve. The village is situated at a distance of 22 km from Devin and 23 km from Smolyan. The village is well-known for its beautiful and authentic Rhodopean houses situated amphitheatrically along both banks of the Shiroka Laka River. More than 60 houses, symbols of the Revival architecture, have been preserved in the village. In 1972 a secondary folklore music school was established in the village.
The Agushev's Konak in the village of Mogilitza in Smolyan District is located at the centre of the village. It was built in 1843 and consists of three separate yards and farm buildings. It is the biggest castle on the Balkan Peninsula for its time. The building of the castle continued for 20 years. The castle has 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys. The building was not used for administrative purposes but only as a family house of the Agushev's kin. All the rooms are broad and light with fireplaces, while the bedrooms are with internal bathrooms. The house is built of wood and stone only. The carrying walls are 50 cm thick and the roof is of slate-stones. The chimneys are high of hewn stone. One of the rooms is with double doors and walls and an eavesdropping system. The rooms are decorated with unique wood carved ceilings and fine-made wooden wardrobes. The house used to have a library with rich collection of books and school books. All the windows are oriented to the east, south and west so that a maximum lightness, warmth and beautiful view towards the mountains is guaranteed. The family's richness come from stock breeding. The family grew thousands of sheep and sold the meat, cheese and yellow cheese.
The Pangalov's house in the quarter of Raykovo is a unique Rhodopean house built in 1860. It is proclaimed for a cultural monument of national significance.
The Ali Bey's Konak in the upper quarter of Raykovo is also proclaimed for a cultural monument of national significance. The Konak is a housing and farming complex built in the typical Rhodopean style.
Pamporovo is one of the most famous Bulgarian mountainous resorts. It is located at the foot of the Snezhanka Peak at an altitude of 1650 m. The resort was founded in 1933. Pamporovo offers excellent conditions for skiing from December to April and ski runs of different level of difficulty. The ski lifts and the tow-lifts have a capacity of 7 000 people an hour. Different national and international ski competitions are held in the region.
The town of Devin has a population of 7 200 inhabitants and is the municipal centre of 15 component settlements. It is located at a distance of 45 km northwest of Smolyan along both banks of the Devinska River at an altitude of 700 m. The town was known under the name of Dyovlen until 1934.
A large number of Roman coins were found in the region which talks about the existence of a settlement from the Roman epoch. At first the settlement had the name of Diov and later the Slavs gave it the name of Dyovlev. The town was liberated from the Ottoman yoke in 1912.
The region of Devin is rich in mineral waters. The Devin and Beden mineral waters are suitable for prevention and treatment of diseases of the locomotory and nervous systems, gynecological, liver and other diseases. 21 km from the town of Devin is located Mihalkovo village whose mineral spring is naturally aerated. This is the strongest aerated water in the country. The mineral water is used for treatment of chronic diseases of the gums, gastric and cardiovascular diseases.
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Tourist sights of the region are: the church "St. Ivan Rilski", the chapel "St. Georgi", the Trigrad's and the Buinovo's gorges, the caves - "Dyavolskoto garlo"/ The Devil's Throat/, Yagodinovo's cave and the "Haramiyskata" cave.
Kaurskoto kale is a Bulgarian fortress known for the defense against the Ottoman enslavers. Its remains lie along the bed of the Devinska River.
The town of Zlatograd has a population of 7 500 inhabitants and is the municipal centre with 10 component settlements. It is located at a distance of 55 km southeast of the district centre at an altitude of 450 m. The town was known under the name of Daradere until 1934.
In the vicinity of the Municipality have been discovered many Thracian rocky sanctuaries and tombs as well as cult places and buildings from different epochs. The town is a combination of rich cultural-historic heritage and natural resources. Zlatograd has a picturesque nature, great biodiversity, favorable climate and mineral springs. The biggest treasure of the town are the 108 Revival period houses. They impress with their whiteness and round chimneys. The complex is a combination of architectural monuments and craftsman's workshops from XVIII c.
Zlatograd is the home town of the song "Izlel e Delyo haidoutin". Together with some other songs from all over the world it was recorded on a gold-covered disc and with the help of the Voyager space station was sent to space as a message to other worlds. American specialists made the selection of the songs. Every year there is a folklore song contest where different amateur folk groups gather and compete.
The tourist sights of the region are: the Revival period quarter, the church "Uspenie Bogorodichno"/ The Assumption/ (1834), the church "St. Georgi Pobedonosetz" (1852) and the Thracian sanctuary by the village of Startzevo.
Beloto Kamаne on the territory of the village of Startzevo, the Municipality of Zlatograd, and the town of Nedelino, Smolyan district, is a Thracian settlement. The Thracian sacred place is of exceptionally white rocks surrounded by mountains. The site has the form of a perfect circle with a diameter of 30 km. There are other smaller cult monuments turned towards the centre.
The town of Chepelare has a population of 5 500 inhabitants and is situated at the valley of the Chepelarska River at an altitude of 1150m. The Chepelarska River springs from the Rozhen saddle forming two valley widenings at the town of Chepelare and at the village of Hvoyna. Chepelare is a municipal centre with 12 component settlements. The town lies at a distance of 80 km from Plovidv and 30 km from the district centre Smolyan. Chepelare is the home town of the Olympic biathlon champion from 1998 in Nagano Ekaterina Dafovska.
The valley has been populated since ancient times. Evidence for that are the Thracian objects found in the region. Bulgarian Christian tombs from XII-XIV c. have been discovered on the territory of the town. The Roman road towards the White Sea region passed through the valley of the Chepelarska River. The town of Chepelare was established in 1726 and was mentioned in the Ottoman documents from 1491. Chepelare was proclaimed for a town in 1964. It is a famous Bulgarian winter resort.
Tourist sights are: the Museum of the Rhodopean karst, the church "St. Atanasii Veliki", "Sveta Bogoroditza" /Holy Virgin/, the "Rozhen" site and the Rozhen's Observatory. Every year in the "Rozhen" site has been held a folklore song competition since 1961.
The town of Dospat has a population of about 3 000 inhabitants and is a municipal centre of 7 settlements. It lies at a distance of 58 km northwest of the district town.
The remains of a Thracian fortification and a medieval fortress were discovered in the vicinity of the town. To the northeast of the town is located the "Dospat" dam-lake.
The village of Borino is the administrative centre of 4 settlements in the Smolyan District. The village lies at a distance of 65 km west of Smolyan and has a population of 2700 inhabitants. The "Kastraklii" reserve is located on the territory of the village. Paleolithic flint stone guns and a Thracian mound necropolis have been discovered in the vicinity of the settlement.
The town of Nedelino has a population of 5 000 inhabitants and is the centre of a municipality of 15 component settlements. Nedelino is situated amphitheatrically along both banks of the Nedelinska River. The town lies at a distance of 15 km from Zlatograd and 64 km from the district centre. The average altitude of the municipality varies between 450-500 m. Until 1934 the town was known under the name of Uzundere, which in translation means "the long ravine".
To the south of the town lie the ruins of a fortress and the "St. Nedelya" monastery, which has given the name of the town. The town is known for its unique double voice choir - the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. Every year in Nedelino is held a folklore festival.
The village of Banite is the municipal centre of 19 settlements in the Smolyan District. The village lies at a distance of 50 km northeast of Smolyan and has a population of 1 300 inhabitants. Until 1972 the village had the name of Ladzha. Banite is a spa centre and a big game hunting reserve. Medieval necropolises with huge tomb inventory have been discovered on the territory of the village.
The town of Madan is situated in the southeastern parts of the Yellow part of the Western Rhodope Mountains along the banks of the Madanska River. It lies at a distance of 25 km southeast of Smolyan. It is a municipal centre with 43 settlements. The ancient name of Madan is Krushevo. The name of Madan comes at a later period and is related to the ore-mining. Madan is an Arab word meaning "ore".
Madan has existed since ancient times. The historic sources point out that the lead ore-mining dates back to IV-V c. B.C. During the Ottoman yoke the settlement was not only an ore-mining centre but a craftsman's and trade one as well. The inhabitants of the settlement grew goats and sheep and manufactured textiles selling them in the region of the White Sea. Madan was proclaimed for a town in 1953
Tourist sights of the region are: the ore-mining museum and the two Roman bridges dating from the first millennium through which has passed the road from Thrace to the White Sea Region.
The town of Rudozem has a population of 4 000 inhabitants and is a municipal centre of 22 settlements. The first name of the town is Vitilovo. For the period of 1676-1934 it was known as Palas and since 1934 - Rudozem. The town lies at a distance of 23 km southeast of Smolyan.
More than 20 historic sites have been discovered in the municipality - settlements, necropolises, churches' ruins, fortresses and ancient roads. The exploitation of the ore deposits in the vicinities of the town began since ancient times and continued through the Middle Ages as well. Through the region passed a road connecting Thrace to the White Sea Region.