The town of Melnik, Municipality of Sandanski, District of Blagoevgrad
Known for centuries with its high-quality wine, the smallest town in the country is located at the foot of Pirin mountain, at an altitude of about 437 m. The distance from there to Sofia is 180 km.
The town of Melnik is a popular wine destination, visited annually by more than 100 thousand Bulgarian and foreign tourists. Despite being the smallest in the country, with a population of 189 people, according to the National Statistical Institute, the town is always stirring with visitors.
Surrounded by beautiful mills /high hills, formed by the erosion of the clayey soil/, it attracts tourists with its charm and coziness. Even right after your arrival, you will feel the different atmosphere and uniqueness of this place. Walking amongst beautiful, old houses and the clinking of wine glasses will make you smile.
Melnik has been known for centuries, even far from the country’s borders, with its excellent wine which was among the favourites of the famous politician, Winston Churchill, who ordered half a ton from it, annually. The “elixir” of Melnik was known in Western Europe, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, etc.
Here almost every one of the locals produces the drink, as the old recipe is transmitted from generation to generation and is adhered to strictly. The uniqueness of the wine of Melnik comes from the red kind of grape “Shiroka Melnishka Loza”, which is grown only in the region. The wine is thick, with dark-red ruby gloss, vague scent and a bundle of taste qualities, among which, most dominant are the ones of cherry and forest fruits and for the more matured wine - the ones of tobacco and leather.
The wine of Melnik is a standard for quality wines. If you visit a tavern, a restaurant, a wine cellar, or a house of a producer of the wine, at almost every place you can get a sip of it. At the Museum of Wine, except learning about the history of wine-making and vine growing in this region, you will be able to taste a few kinds of the local wine. At the famous renaissance house, Kordopulov’s House, which is also a private museum and has its own cellar, you can enjoy coziness and some high-quality wine.
During the Antiquity, on the territory of Melnik lived the Thracian tribe Medi, and later, Romans. The town was named by the Slavs who were settled in the region. Melnik comes from the word “мел” /white clay, chalk/, which is related to the surrounding, beautiful, clay and sand pyramids. The first written evidences for Melnik as a fortress, date back to 11th century. You can learn the entire history of the town in the Museum of History.
Melnik is a town-museum and a cultural and historical reserve which attracts thousands of tourists every year with its remarkable, renaissance architecture. Here you can see many historical and cultural monuments and landmarks. Some of them are: Kordopulov’s House; the church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker /13th century/, which is an architectural and construction, artistic monument of culture and one of the few operating temples; remains of Bolyarska House /13th century/, which was the residence of the despot Aleksi Slav; the remains of Aleksi Slav’s fortress /13th century/ on the near hill “St. Nicholas”; part of the ruins of the Mitropolean church St. Nicholas /13th century/ - a monument of culture with national importance, from which the east wall and some elements of the interior are preserved; the church of St. Antony /1765/; the St. Virgin Mary Spileotis monastery /Holy Ground/, and others; The beautiful pyramids of Melnik, surrounding the town, are a famous natural landmark and one of the symbols of Melnik. They are formed from the erosion of the clay soil into different forms of pyramids, giant mushrooms, cones and others. Their height goes up to 100 meters and their tops are covered with grass and other plants.
Tourist attractions in the area. Because there are many tourist places and attractive destinations in the area, when going to Melnik, you could set up an interesting itinerary. Located at 23 km from the town, is the SPA destination Sandanski. The famous Rozhen Monastery is only 7 km away. The visited by many worshipers and tourists village of Zlatolist /12 km/ is also very close along with the Church of St. George, where reverend Stoyna lived. Samuel’s fortress is 41 km away and the region of Rupite with the temple-monument of St. Petka of Bulgaria and the house where in the last few years lived the well-known clairvoyant Vanga is 24 km away.
From Melnik to the Rozhen Monastery, you can go on a tourist route. There are also itineraries by the near village of Karlanovo and its beautiful pyramids, by the village of Zlatolist, and others.
Attractive events Melnik’s biggest holiday is the festival of Melnik’s wine “Golden Grape” which is held in February. The town’s festival is held in the end of August.
Accomodation The overnight-stay options are in different categories of hotels and guest houses with cozy atmosphere and welcoming hosts. Melnik is known mostly as a destination for wine and gourmet tourism. Apart from the unique local wines, you will taste the outstanding local cuisine. Among the most famous foods of Melnik are sheep milk with figs, swirled banitsa and others.
Tourist Information Center /TIC/ - Sandanski
Town of Sandanski, 28 Macedonia Str.
Tel.: +359 882 011 039, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://sandanskicrossborder.com
April-October: 10.00 – 20.00, no days off,
November-March: 9.00 – 19.00, no days off