To lose oneself in Yagodina
There is a village in the Western Rhodopes where you want to stay forever and forget about the way back home once you visit it. It is hidden from the world and the people who like loud entertainment. The road to this Bulgarian village is difficult and dangerous at some places, because it winds near Buinovska River, which has sculpted for thousands of years the most beautiful and the longest gorge in Bulgaria-nearly 8 kilometers long. On the way to the village, you travel on a narrow road with endless turns and passes.
At the end of the road, you find yourself in the beautiful village of Yagonina. The village is very close to the Bulgaria-Greece border. If you like home comfort and delicious food, the village of Yagodina will captivate you with its authentic style and traditional Rhodope meals prepared with local products.
Yagodinska cave is only 3 kilometers away. It is one of the natural wonders of the Rhodope Mountains. The cave is a multi-level complex and its galleries extend to a length of nearly 10 kilometers. According to researches of speleologists, the Yagodinska Cave was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. Artefacts from the Neolithic Age were discovered near the cave’s entrance. Among these finds are earthenware plates, earthenware over, hand mills and charred wheat which fate back to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age (the 4th millennia BC).
Along with the quaint rock formations, small lakes, stalactites, stalagmites, cave pearls and impressive chambers you can also find the so-called Wall of Sin where coins are stuck. According to folk beliefs, those who manage to stick their coins on this wall may consider themselves righteous. You can even see a Christmas tree in the New Year’s hall where speleologists usually meet New Year. Nearly 200 people got married in this hall. Nearly 11 bat species live in this cave. Later, in the afternoon you can enjoy the beautiful sunset from the Eagle’s Eye (Orlovo Oko) sightseeing platform (1563 meters above sea level) right under Saint Ilia peak.
There, you can enjoy the stunningly beautiful Buinovsko Gorge and a wonderful panoramic view. You may wonder how nature shaped all these beauties, but you feel proud that this wonderful place is in your motherland. I cannot find words to describe the beauty, the magnetism and the glory of the Rhodopes! Incredible experience and wonderful view! This is what the people who dare going to the steel sightseeing platform say. Once, you go to that place, you fall in love with it and want to stay there forever.
Later, you can enjoy the tasty Rhodope food specialties, homemade cheese and aromatic fruit of the forest jams. On the second day, you can try the traditional Rhodope cheese pastry and the thick yoghurt and then set off to the Trigrad Gorge and the scary cave – the Devil’s Throat. The cave entrance resembles a devil’s head and down its throat rushes the tallest underground waterfall in the Balkans. The legend has it that once Orpheus descended this orifice to the subterranean Kingdom of Hades to look for his lost love Eurydice.
You can easily fit a building with the size of Alexander Nevski cathedral into the cave’s huge chamber. Four bat species inhabit this hall, including Miniopterus schreibersii (Schreiber’s Bent-winged bat) and Myotis capaccinii (Long-fingered bat) which were included in the international red list of threatened species.
After the exciting experience in the rock galleries, you can relax for several hours in the warm waters of the mineral pool near the town of Devin and return to the village of Yagodina. A village fair is organized in Yagodina each year in the beginning of September. Local people and visitors enjoy the beautiful sounds of the Rhodope pipe, the horo chain dances and the singing competitions under the stars.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov
Photos: Darina Grigorova
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