Situated only a few kilometers northwest of the village Dorkovo, Tsepina Fortress is one of the most visited historical sites in this part of the Rhodope Mountains. It is built between the XI and XIII centuries and has a long history. The archealogical research found the remains of a Thracian settlement, the foundations of several churches, reservoirs, basilica, houses and a necropolis. The fortress is built on a peak at 1136 m. a. s. l. and surrounded by precipices from 3 sides, being accessible only from the south. We drive for about 10 km from the village Dorkovo to the Tsepina hut, which has a museum with artifacts from the fort. From there we walk up for about 10 minutes on a dirt road to reach the castle walls.
Close to the fortress is the Park Pliocene pale-ontological museum where in 1985-1987 a Bulgarian-French expedition has discovered about 600 bones of different sizes of more than 30 animal species. Nowhere in Europe has been discovered so far such a cluster of dinosaur bones! Almost all of the original fossils were taken to the Nature museum in Paris but in the small museum near Dorkovo village one can still see a few original mastodon tusks and teeth. The exhibition hall is a scale model of the area around Dorkovo village from the late Pliocene. The exhibition includes sculptural restorations of ancient animals representing the nature of Bulgaria and the Balkans from 5 million years ago. It showcases also unique fossils and reconstruction of scientific excavations. The collaboration of scientists, elite artists and restorers enables the museum’s visitors to “walk” near a model mastodon surrounded by Pliocene forest sounded by braying of donkeys.
At the end of the trip we go back to the civilization and visit the spa capital on the Balkans – the internationally renowned spa resort Velingrad where is the largest karst spring in Bulgaria – Kleptuza. Today Velingrad is popular for spa recreation, health prevention and treatment of many diseases. The specific climatic factors and natural resources define it as a resort with opportunities for climate therapy and prevention of various diseases of the upper respiratory tract – infertility, inflammation, allergies, asthma, diseases of the nervous system – neuroses, neurovegetative dystonia. Velingrad is one of the best towns in Bulgaria for recovery after a prolonged illness and prevention of allergic diseases. The largest karst spring on the Balkan Peninsula – Kleptuza – is located in Velingrad on the right bank of Chepinska River by the mountain slope of a residential quarter. In one of the two lakes formed by the spring one can rent a boat or just enjoy the wonderful combination of calm waters and green trees.
Period: Year round
Trip duration: 7,5-8 hours
Price: From 28 EUR per person depending on the group size
Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv
Not included: Park Pliocene paleontological museum entrance fee (1,50 EUR), food and tips
Note: After the end of the tour you can be transferred to Sofia or vice-versa – to get collected from your Sofia hotel in the morning and after exploring Velingrad and the area to be delivered at your accommodation in Plovdiv.