Rhodope Mountains – a place where legends come to life

History and mythology left their mark in the mysterious Rhodopes – a mountain range in Bulgaria and a small part of Greece. It is on a 470 m high rocky hill in the Eastern Rhodopes that the ‘Sacred town of the Thracians’ – Perperikon lies. Historians believe that there was the altar of god Dionysus. The whole archaelogical complex itself presents the largest megalith ensemble in the Balkans.

 "PerpericonCathedral" by Anton Lefterov - Собствена творба. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

“Perpericon Cathedral” by Anton Lefterov. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

Thracians had a number of cults. Best known is the cult to Orpheus. According to legends the songs of Orpheus filled the forests in the mountain and enchanted birds and animals. The chain of the Rhodopes, which is believed to be the legendary musician’s birthplace, is thus called the Мountain of Orpheus. This magical place is rich in mineral springs and is home to three nature reserves. One could do a walking tour of the protected area Chairite, put up a tent there and sleep under the stars with the surrounding nature whispering fascinating bedtime stories. This picturesque site is a starting point for visiting a number of natural landmarks amongst which the mysterious cave The Devil’s Throat. 

The Devil’s Throat bears this name for a reason.The cave presents the imposing sight of the highest underground waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula. Hearing the deafening rumble of the waterfall and the mysterious stories about the cave, you will undoubtedly get goose bumps. One of many assumptions about the name of the cave is the widespread belief that whoever enters does not come back alive.

The place is so enigmatic that people attempted to explain the strange happenings in the cave with various legends. The ancient Thracians thought The Devil’s Throat to be a portal to the otherworld and threw in the river dead warriors to ensure their immortality.

The Devil’s Throat is also often connected with the legend of Orpheus trying to rescue his beloved one from the Underworld. Orpheus found a cave which lead to Hades and thanks to his gift of playing the lyre, persuaded the King of the dead to let his wife Eurydice return with him. Hades agreed to let Eurydice go on one condition – Orpheus must not look back on the way out of the Underworld. As the story goes, the rumble of the falling water in the cave (presumably The Devil’s Throat cave) was so strong that Orpheus stopped hearing steps behind. He doubted then that Eurydice was following and turned his head – in that moment he lost the love of his life forever.

This is just one of many stories about the hidden secrets of the Rhodope Mountains– a magical place with magnificent nature where legends come to life.

The natural landmark Wonderful Bridges in the Rhodopes, Photo credit: Vladimir Machokov,

The natural landmark Wonderful Bridges in the Rhodopes, Photo credit: Vladimir Machokov


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Cult Bulgaria correspondent
Lora - Sofia

An eager reader, writer & traveller. Always curious to learn new things and hear new stories. Keen on studying languages. A to-be graduate in Scandinavian studies. I have joined Cult in order to showcase a part of Bulgarian culture that is often ...

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Continent: Europe
Capital: Sofia
Population: 7,148,800
Area: 110,910 km2
Currency: Lev
Languages: Bulgarian

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