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Zlatograd (town)

The most southern town in Bulgaria, situated in the district of Smolyan, close to the border with Greece

RELIGIONS Islam, Orthodox


In the most Southern part of Bulgaria, in the skirts of Eastern Rodopi mountain, on the banks of Varbitza river, is situated Zlatograd, the most ancient historical center of Smolyan region. Today Zlatograd is a beautiful town that has preserved the charm of the traditions of the Bulgarian Revival Period. Numerous hotels, restaurants and private houses offer comfort for all tourists and travelers. One of the attractions of the complex is the three pieces of water equipment that still work even today: the tucking-mill, the fulling-mill, and the water-mill. They are located in a building known as Vuntsov’s Mill. The tucking-mill is used for washing, the fulling-mill is used for the processing of woolen fabrics, and the water-mill is used for flour grinding. Zlatograd is the southernmost Bulgarian town and a cultural tourism destination. With the opening of a border checkpoint with Greece near the town, Zlatograd has filled up with tourists. Local hotels and guest houses barely manage to accommodate all the tourists during holidays and weekends. Zlatograd has preserved its antique architecture and unique nature to the delight of the visitors. People visit the town mainly because of its old architecture. Most of the old houses are situated in the center of the town where craftsmen use traditional methods to create true pieces of art in their shops. In the local cafes and restaurants one can try delicious meals, while the small hotels offer all the comfort one needs.
The town of Zlatograd has preserved numerous architectural and cultural monuments from XVIII – XIXth century. This is the town of Delio Hajdutin - the guardian of the local population from the violent ottomans, immortalized in a song which “travels” across the universe towards other civilizations. The architectural reserve of Zlatograd has preserved numerous old Rodopian houses with eaves and wells in the inner yards, fenced by oak heaps. The chapels “st. Atatnas”, “St. Nedelya”, “St. Iliya” and “St. Constantine and Helena” are situated on the nearby hilss, that surround the town. Zlatograd Dam is situated just 3 km away from the town and it is a favourite site for all fishermen. Delyo Hajdutin was born in Belovedovo (today's Zlatograd). He held his activities in Central Rhodopes. He is best known for his activities against the forced Islamization of the Rhodope Bulgarians. In 1720, he was the head of the united hajduk battalions who attacked the village of Raikovo (today's neighborhood of Smolyan) to avenge the murder of 200 raccoans who refused to accept Islam. Delyo Hajdutin is mentioned in the Historical Notebook, a document of the 18th century with controversial authenticity. Delyo's estates are immortalized in many folk songs, legends and legends. In the Zlatograd region, the famous song "Izlel je Delyo haidutin" is performed by a number of performers such as Valya Balkanska. Her most famous recording - the self-performance of the song "Izlel is Deliu Haidutin" - the song that was a message from the Earth to fly out of the Solar System on the board of two identical spacecrafts from NASA's Voyager program
The Pomaks, known in Bulgaria as Bulgarian Mohammedans, are a population whose mother tongue is Bulgarian and whose religion is Islam. Highly disputed, the Bulgarian-Greek border near Bulgarian town of Zlatograd divided the region of Rhodope Mountain for almost eight decades in the twentieth century. Vigilantly guarded under socialism, the border was an effective means for maintaining state sovereignty. Inhabiting areas near the historically contested border, the Bulgarian Muslims in Bulgaria and the Pomaks in Greece were perceived as a threat to the national security of both countries. Boundary position, also symbolically, is the main characteristics of the Bulgarian Muslims. The cultural and linguistic community on both sides of the border was also split. Еstablishing state borderline after the World War I destroyed the pastoral economy of the Bulgarian Muslims in Bulgaria by “cutting” their access to winter pastures near the Aegean Sea. The isolation of the Muslim population in the frontier Greek villages led to the formation of two different identities among the heirs of the former total Muslim community. Under socialism, the border location of Zlatograd brought economic advantages for the local community. While most Bulgarian Muslims in Zlatograd declare at present Bulgarian identity, the isolation and the Greek assimilation policies have influenced the formation of other, different strategies among their neighbours south of the border fence. Working together in the socialist enterprises, the specific culture of the small Balkan town, raising the level of education among Bulgarian Muslims, the imposition of secular values: all that led to the convergence between the Christian and Muslim population of Zlatograd during socialism and post-socialism.
Many Bulgarian holidays and customs are celebrated in a traditional style at the ethnographic complex, for example: Trifon Zarezan (the Day of the Vine-Grower - mid-February), Baba Marta (Grandma March Day – beginning of March), Todorovden (St. Theodore’s Day – the first Sunday of the Easter Fast), Enyovden (St. John’s Eve - 24 June), Waits (24 December) and so on. Among the tourist landmarks in the town is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Church, which was built in 1834. It is the oldest church built in the Rhodope Mountains during the Ottoman rule. 100 000 tourists visit the town of Zlatograd annually. Many of them arrive to learn more about the history of this antique town. Zlatograd is known for the number of historical landmarks. We learn more about them from archaeologist Nickolay Ovcharov, known as the Bulgarian Indiana Jones. “In this region a number of rock sanctuaries can be seen. They are very interesting such as the phallic sanctuaries near the village of Benkovski, which date back to the 1st century BC. There are beautiful Christian monasteries in the region. Archeologists continue to study some of those monuments. Near Zlatograd one can see an interesting landmark, which is an old Thracian sanctuary. It is a huge cone-shaped rock surrounded by forests. It may be one of the oldest Thracian cult places in the Rhodope Mountains.”
The students will be able to see a video showing the beauty and the typical architecture of the town and also they could read further more on:

Regional museum of history in Kardzhali - 4 Republikanska Street, Kardzhali 6600





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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.