The White Stones
Hills above Startsevo
Ascending from the village of Startsevo, you initially pass typical mountain farms and number of water fountains, before approaching the hilltops that are eventually opening up to a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. Here, on top of the hill above Startsevo is the location of the White Stones, an ancient Thracian cult site.
The tradition of building and maintaining water fountains is age old in the Rhodope Mountains, and directly linked to ritual practices and mythological beliefs that have survived in this remote region of Europe since Thracian times.
Fountains are not only regarded as architectural artefacts of artistic value, but are related to history and often constructed in memory of passed family members. Over the centuries, many thousands of them have been built across the Rhodopes - near remote roads and villages, at forest clearings or below centennial trees. Each one has its unique style, decoration, and history that can be as diverse, as the motifs of its creators.
Reverence for water as the universal source of life is ingrained in the local mindset, as is the belief that building a fountain entails good fortune, honor, and even forgiveness for wrongdoings on its donor. Ultimately, the fountains benefit passers-by, birds, and forest animals alike, which can quench their thirst with some of Bulgaria's cleanest mountain water.
View of the Eastern Rhodopes
From the White Stones, an area atop the hill above Startsevo marked by exposed white limestone rocks, a phenomenal view encompassing most of the Eastern Rhodopes unfolds.
The view is truly awesome - a sea of mountain chains, valleys, forests, and picturesque villages. In the distance you can make out the summits Mavruzia and Arda. On clear days, the view reaches as far as the Byzantine fortress atop the mountain Ustra dating back to the tenth century.
Archaeologists assume that the White Stones near Startsevo are the center piece of a circular formation, tens of kilometers in diameter, consisting of a number of Thracian cult sites located on prominent mountaintops. This circle supposedly stretches all the way to Perperikon, exactly 50 km to the north-east as the crow flies.
Thracian Cult Site
The White Stones were used by the ancient Thracians as a place of worship to the Sun God that they revered.
The site was created in the fifth century B.C. and its religious use continued until the fourth century A.D. - almost for a millennium. It was finally abandoned after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the year 330 and older heathen faiths were displaced.
The religious practices exercised at the White Stones consisted mostly of offering coins, ceramics, wheat, and millet either to subterranean deities, or directly to the Sun God. Thracian priests placed their offerings deep inside limestone crevices, walling them up with loam afterwards. Many such artifacts withstood the centuries inside their stone shelters and have been recovered by archaeologists in recent years.
In addition to everything you would expect at a nice hotel, our guest house is lovingly furnished and offers many extras.
The area around Startsevo is well-known for its raw natural beauty. You can find various animals and many endangered plants here.
No matter if at night or during the day - you can always relax on our porch or balconies with a breathtaking view of the valleys below.