More than one millennium ago a country was born in the heart of Balkan Peninsula and it was named Bulgaria. Bulgarian history became an endless fountain of hope and faith and a source for pride and dignity of our nation. Our country is the successor of an ancient cultural heritage. Today we are proud of our natural landmarks and historical sights and we are happy to introduce to your attention just a small part of the abundant resources of our homeland, which is located in the northern part of West Rhodope Mountain – Karkaria Ridge. The area of wildlife reserve is biologically clean and combined with the mineral water, propitious climate and beautiful sights in Rhodope Mountain Range provides very good conditions for development of resort and tourist activities.
Some 5 km away from Karkaria lies Dorkovo Village – an old Bulgarian village dating from the Middle ages. The name of the village most probably has its origin in the Greek word δορκάς meaning either a wild goat or a roe deer which were very commonly encountered all over Karkaria and especially in the rocky gully of Matnitsa River, which is now an effluent of Batak Dam. In a land full of history, Dorkovo is just a small piece of the gorgeous body of Rhodope Mountain Range. The village is situated along the banks of Matnitsa River, in the northeastern end of Chepinska river basin. It lies in the southern foot of Karkaria Ridge, which is part of Batashka Mountain.
Dorkovo is a place where Bulgarian customs and traditions are cherished and preserved. Dorkovo Pliocene Park was officially opened in the summer of 2013, it was constructed very close to the paleontological field and is only about 500 m away from the village center. This is the largest field in Europe where mastodons of the species Anacus arvernensis from the late Pliocene period dating back 5 million years were found. Mastodon fossils (tusk, molar teeth, etc.) of more than 30 species of big vertebrates were discovered in the locality called Ilin Kladenets (Ilia’s Well).
Tsepina Fortress, also called the inaccessible one, is found on a high rocky peak of the Carcaria Ridge at altitude 1136 m. It was the last fortress in Southern Bulgaria to be taken by the Turks in 1373 after nine months of siege. It is located at 6 km northwest of Dorkovo village, in the northeastern end of Chepinska river basin. In the 13th century it was the capital of the feudal land estate of the feudal lord – Despot Slav, the son of Tzar Kaloyan‘s sister. The fortress was surrounded by a wall which is preserved nowadays up to 6 m high and 3 m thick. The place was inhabited as early as the Thracian tribe of Bessi.
Underground life in Bulgaria is extremely abundant in rock and cave formations. Very close to Karkaria lies Lepenitsa Cave. It is situated in West Rhodope Mountain, under Syutka Peak (2186 m) at 975 m altitude; it is 1525 m long and has 10 m of vertical drop. Lepenitsa is a three-level cave. The lowest level is 273 m long and an underground river flows through it. In the second level there are four lakes in the rainy season and two in the dry season. The third level is dry but unfortunately it is not accessible. This cave abounds in stalagmites, stalactites and stalactons, and is extraordinary beautiful. Here some impressive cave pearls were found. So far 24 troglobite species and 6 bat species were discovered. The temperature inside the cave is approximately 10 °C.
Lepenitsa cave is situated at the foot of Syutka Peak, which is the second highest peak in the Rhodope Mountain Range – it is 2186 m high. It was most probably during the Ottoman rule when the name of Sutka Peak started to be pronounced as Syutka. In Turkish the word “Süt” means milk and since the peak was continuously enveloped in mist and snow, Syutka was used to mean the Milky or the White peak.
The road from Upper Thracian valley to the river basin passes by the astonishing beauty of the gorge carved by Chepinska River. This part of Karkaria Ridge is called Eli Dere (Eli Gulch). As the ancient legend says the gorge between Milevi Skali (Milevi Rocks) and Karkaria was dug by a mythical beast creature and then the waters in Eli Gulch rose so high that they everflowed the mountain ridge and flowed into Maritsa River.
Situated along the course of Chepinska River, Chepinska river basin is the biggest one in the Rhodope Mountain Range. It is known for its favorable climate and the presence of more than 80 mineral springs. In the western part of the river basin, in Chepino district of Velingrad resort, issues the largest karst spring in Bulgaria called Cleptusa. The water from this spring forms two lakes and the pine wood lying south of the spring is a natural park area.
Batak Dam is a favored place for recreation in the mountains amidst snugness and quietness. It lies in a former trough, surrounded by Batashka, Chepinska and Rakitovska rivers, between the southern side of Rhodopian high flat woodlands of Karkaria and the northern slopes of Batashka Mountain. The dam is fed by the waters of Matnitsa River, right effluent of Chepinska River, and it is situated at about 1000 m altitude. It is the sixth largest dam in Bulgaria. It is surrounded by small woody peaks rising 200-300 meters above its ground level. Batak Dam is 17 km long and 4 km wide. Its deepest point is next to the dam wall - 34 m. 3 out of the 17 biological reserves are located in its vicinities, inhabited by fallow deer, roe deer, fox and grouse.
The quote says:”A nation without a past is a lost nation”.
The past proves how great and significant Bulgaria was over the centuries. We have our place in the world thank to our history. Without it we are going to forget the heritage of our past generations.