Melnik the Smallest Town in Bulgaria

Most countries like to boast that they have the biggest of anything. Let’s face it, when it comes to tourism size does matter. Gargantuan somehow represents good, and people tend to flock to view or experience the biggest of something, as if largest size somehow imbues and object with immense importance.

The people of the Eastern European country of Bulgaria are different, for they idly boast about the small. The town of Melnik in Blagoevgrad Province, south western Bulgaria, is famous there for being the smallest town in Bulgaria. Its tiny size has become a magnet for locals to go and enjoy Melnik’s charms for themselves.

Although the town only boasts a population of less than 300, the town is, in fact, historically, culturally and architecturally very important to the Bulgarians.

Nestled amidst the Pirin mountains, Melnik represents the memories of a prosperous and glorious past. It is a place that is unique being ensconced in countryside that is home to whimsical sand pyramids and sandstone towers, but with soil that is rich enough to flourish with vineyards and orchards.

The Melnik Pyramids are rock formations which are scattered over an area of 50 square kilometres. These fantastically sculpted rocks have assumed a wonderful and occasionally bizarre arrangement of shapes with details which resemble mushrooms, haystacks, minarets, alpine ridges and peaks, swords, obelisks, Egyptian pyramids, Gothic cathedrals, and much more, all carved out of stone.

People of settled here for millennia, including the ancient Thracians, and the Romans, who built one of the town’s landmarks, an ancient bridge that is still well preserved even today. Melnik was around when the first Bulgarian Empire was formed in 836, and was a state capital for a while and the remains of a fortress can still be visited near the town.

The town is located just 175 kilometres from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, and is just 30kms from the border with Greece. Its location has meant that it has often been invaded, and has been part of many empires over the centuries, and has had more than its fair share of battles fought near the town.

The town is popular today because it does have some really unique architecture, and is home to one of Bulgaria’s oldest houses, Boyar House which was built in the 13th century. Another reason for visiting is for the quality of its wine, which has been produced in the area since the 12th century and has been exported all over Europe.

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