The Rhodopes (also spelled Rodopi) are a mountain range, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Its highest peak, Golyam Perelik (2,191 m), is the seventh highest Bulgarian mountain. Very interesting are the Karst areas with their deep river gorges, large caves and specific sculptured forms such as the Trigrad Gorge, the caves Devil's Throat, Uhlovitsa, Yagodinska, the Wonderful Bridges. To the west, they are replaced by the higher Pirin and Rila ranges.
The bigger part (66% of the total area), the higher, more developed and visited part of the mountain. The highest and best known peaks are also here (more of 10 are over 2,000 m) including the highest, Golyam Perelik (2,191 m). Among the interesting peaks are Shirokolushki Snezhnik (2,188), Golyam Persenik (2,091), Bataski Snejnik (2,082), the wonderful Turla (1,800).
Some of the deepest and most picturesque river gorges are here too; the Trigrad, Byunovsko, of the Mostova Sushitca River. The Rocky phenomenon Wonderful Bridges, the Chaira Lakes and the dams Dospat, Batak, Shiroka Polyana, Iglika, Toshkov Chark excellently fit into the environment. The architecture reserves Shiroka Luka, Kovachevitza, Momchilovtsi, Kosovo, and many other interesting villages are in the Western Rhodope too.
The city of Batak is also located here as well as the large tourist centers Smolyan, Velingrad, Devin, Chepelare, the winter resort of Pamporovo, the Christian sanctuary Bachkovo Monastery, the ruins of Assenov fortress, the caves Devils Throat, Iagodinska and many others. The highest village in Bulgaria, Manastir (over 1,500 m) is crouched in the northern foot of the Prespa peak. The famous building Agushevi konatsi is here-in the village of Mogilitza, immediately to the south of Smolyan. There are no chalets, but nearby Smolyan offers lodging and foot.
Spread over a territory of about 34% of the whole area of the mountain. This is a much lower part.
Here are the large artificial dams Kardzhali and Studen kladenets that together with the rivers Borovitza and Varbitza offer great opportunities for water tourism.
The Region is rich in thermal mineral springs. Djebel has national reputation for healing many different diseases. "Belite brezi", with their fresh mountain air, is an important healing center for respiratory and other ailments. The Eastern Rhodope are much more populated than the Western.
Here are the major cities of Haskovo and Kardjali as well as the smaller Momchilgrad, Krumovgrad, Kirkovo.
The larger rivers in the Rhodopes are: Maritsa, Mesta, Struma, Dospat, Vutcha, Chepelarska and many others.
The location of the Rhodopes in the southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula determines to a great extent the climate here. It is influenced both by the colder air coming from the North and by the warmer breeze from the Mediterranean.
The average annual temperature in the Eastern Rhodope is 12-13° C, the maximum value of precipitation is in December, the minimum is in August. In the Western Rhodope the temperature varies with 5 to 9° C and the summer rainfalls prevail.
The mild climate combined with some other factors works in favour of the development of recreation and tourist activities. The Pamporovo resort is an excellent example, where the microclimate permits a heavy snow cover to be preserved for a long time - a real Paradise for skiing. To the North is the valley of the Maritsa river, to the South - the White sea plain, to the West – the valley of the Mesta river, the Avramovi Kolibi saddle, Lyuta Reka, the Yundola Saddle and the river Yadenitca, to the east - the valleys of Borovitza and Arda rivers.
Temperatures of -15 degrees Celsius are common, and due to this, the Rhodopes are the southernmost place in the Balkans where we can see trees such as Norway Spruce and Silver Birch. The Rhodopes is a refuge of wild life. Human presence is negligible.
The Rhodope are spread over 14,737 km² of which 12,233 km² are on Bulgarian territory. The mountain is about 220 km long and about 100-120 km wide with an average altitude of 785 m. 15 reserves have been established, some of these are included in the list of UNESCO. There are many mineral water springs, the most famous are in Velingrad and Narechen.
River Nestos in the Rhodopes
River Nestos (see picture) gives life to the whole area.
- More pictures of Rhodopes (http://www.astraka.net/hellas/rodopi/rodopi.htm)
- Pictures of Rodopes mountain range and Dospat dam (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/rodopi)
- Pictures of Rodopes taken from the top of peak Snejanka tower (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/pamporovo4)
- Pictures of Pamporovo ski resort in the Rodopes mountain (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/pamporovo1)
- More pictures of Pamporovo summer and winter resort (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/pamporovo2)
- Yet more pictures of Pamporovo (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/pamporovo3)
- Pictures of Momtchilovtsi (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/momtchilovtsi)
- Pictures of Shiroka Luka (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/shirokaluka)
- Map of the western and central Rodopes (http://www.pbase.com/ngruev/image/33547773/original)