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ZLATOGRAD

Bulgaria's southernmost town is situated just 2 km from the border with Greece and 50 km from the Aegean Sea. It is situated in the valley of the Varbitsa River, on the border between the Western and the Eastern Rhodopes - literally on the last ridge of the Rhodope Mountains, after which the Aegean Plain begins.
It is believed that the modern town is the successor to the medieval Bulgarian town of Belovidovo. After the Liberation, which came for the principality of Bulgaria in 1878, it remained in the Ottoman Empire until 1912. The 20th century was a time of flourishing for Zlatograd. During the second half of that century mines for lead, zinc and precious metals were opened, and during the 1990s tourism was successfully developed thanks to the wonderful mountainous landscape, the hot mineral springs discovered (where the water temperature can reach 92°C or 197°F), and the ancient remains from every Age and Era. The town is included in the "100 National Tourist Sites" of the Bulgarian Tourist Association.

LANDMARKS
• Houses from the 18th and 19th century in the virtually untouched old section of the town, situated on the southern bank of the Varbitsa River. In the architecture of the Old Town there are construction elements from the Middle Ages and the Aegean coast. Most are with three floors and constructed of stone, adobe and wood. The bottom floor of many is intended for business and, so, they include workshops (some of which still work today by antique technology). One can still have a cup of coffee boiled over hot sand in a small oven at the Old Cafe, which exists since 1823. The taverns offer a unique meal prepared according to old Rhodope recipes.
• The old watermill in the Ethnographic complex includes a valyavitsa (for processing woolen cloth), a fuller (for processing the fabric) and a small watermill.
• The Assumption of the Virgin's Church (1834) - a low, yet wide and long, basilica, dug into the ground, constructed in just a few weeks' time. A cell school was also set up here at one time.
• St. George the Victor's Church, where in 1852 the residents of Zlatograd set up a modern school in which the students were taught according to the methods of the English educational system. Today it is a museum and part of the church complex, consecrated in 1871.
• The oldest post office on Bulgarian lands, where more than two centuries ago the legendary rebel, Delyu Voyvoda, was born. The folk song created about him flew into space in 1977.
• Hundreds of sanctuaries and tombs near the village of Benkovski 15 km from Zlatograd. Hundreds of altars are carved into the rocky areas in a variety of sizes, but all are kidney-shaped. Kings were buried amid these altars, with their decorative jewelry and royal armor in separate chambers.
These heathen altars and tombs are some of the oldest memorials to human civilization.

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