Zlatograd is emblematic of the Rhodope Mountain's rich traditional culture, and especially the religious diversity typical of the Eastern Rhodopes. Historically, it has long been a Christian center amidst a religiously diverse vicinity, and thus a formative place for Bulgarian culture and identity. Today, it is the southernmost town of the Bulgarian Republic, located only 10 km from Startsevo.
Zlatograd has a modern core, complete with a number of communist construction hallmarks, yet a substantial part of the town has been preserved in its traditional Bulgarian architecture. The Old Town was officially declared an Ethnographic Areal Complex in 2001 and is recognized as one of the foremost 100 tourist sites of Bulgaria.
After decades of destruction and decay under communism, the Old Town has undergone a significant revival since. Old estates are being restored and new construction is modeled after the traditional examples.
Zlatograd spreads on the banks of the rivers Varbitsa and its tributary Golyama, which after cutting though its entire length, meet in the center of town. Many impressive views of buildings on the steep river banks open up during a walk through town. Varbitsa is Bulgaria's most temperamental river, with up to 5,000 times difference in water volume between spring highs and autumn lows.
Arts & Crafts
A significant number of artisans and craftsmen, old and young alike, live and work in Zlatograd. Their cozy shops are one of the main attractions of the Old Town, adding to its authenticity.
Pottery, textile embroidery, tannery, and gold-smithery are among the trades practiced in this part of the Rhodopes. Here, you can find hand-crafted knifes and tools, traditional costumes, woven bags and fabrics, original paintings, and a large variety of wooden items that have been whittled from the region's rich woods.
Of course, there are more mundane souvenirs or bakery products and foodstuffs to be had, too. Visitors of the Old Town can not only buy small art pieces and souvenirs, but in many instances also watch how they are created.
Many interesting sites are located in close proximity to Zlatograd. There are a number of chapels and a monastery nearby, but also outright leisure spots.
In ancient times, the four highest peaks surrounding Zlatograd hosted Thracian cult sites, and later Orthodox Christian chapels. St. Atanas is located just above the town, St. Constantin & Elena was reconstructed as late as 2006, St. Ilya still remains to be reconstructed. St. Nedelya is without a doubt the most important religious site nearby, boasting not only a chapel, but a small monastery complex.
Tangent lines between the chapels form an imaginary cross, prompting locals to refer to this area as Forest of the Cross, with less direct, yet well-marked hiking trails spanning between them.
A few hotel complexes around Zlatograd offer swimming pools and other wellness options. The Panorama hotel is located on a mountaintop some 20 minutes to the north of Zlatograd, or only 10 minutes from Startsevo. Besides a well-kept swimming pool, it offers a sauna and a fitness room. Yagnevo is another hotel complex with a swimming pool and an artificial fishing lake, which is to be found some 20 minutes to the east of Zlatograd.
The area around Startsevo is well-known for its raw natural beauty. You can find various animals and many endangered plants here.
In addition to everything you would expect at a nice hotel, our guest house is lovingly furnished and offers many extras.
The guest house proprietors are locals, rooted in the traditional ways - be it customs, food, or crafts - yet subscribing to an international outlook.