Eco-trails are our favorite way to get moving and enjoy the clean mountain air and breathtaking panoramas. And since we know that the Rhodope Mountains are a favorite place for everyone in and around the city under the hills, we suggest a route about which Ivan Vazov himself wrote: "Two eyes, one soul and one heart are not enough to grasp the limitlessness, to drink from the invisible stream of the eternal, of this majestic world, and to contain it within yourself.
In 1892, the patriarch of Bulgarian literature took a trip to the Chepinska valley and, inspired by its beauty, published his travelogue "In the depths of the Rhodopes" a few years later. While he was there, he often visited the area of Mangov Lyon, which is located just below the Ostrets peak near today's Velingrad, and according to the sources, he spent hours of pleasant relaxation and contemplation there.
In his honor, a memorial plaque has now been placed there and a shelter has been erected. To reach the place, you only need comfortable shoes and water. The route starts from the center of Velingrad. You go up the stairs from Svoboda square to the Bor hotel, and from there you reach the Maxi hotel on the road. The path goes through a forest and after 15 minutes up you will find yourself at Voinishka Polyana. From there you follow the ridge up and reach Shopova Polyana. To its left in the forest is an interesting tree with five branches, called Five Brothers by locals. From Shopova Polyana, the ascent continues and after about 200 meters you reach a fork - the path on the right leads to the Vazova Polyana area (Mangov Lyon), which got its name from Ivan Vazov's visit to these places at the end of the 19th century. From this place, a wonderful view of Velingrad opens before the eyes of the tourist. It is believed that here Vazov wrote that if he did not see God, he then saw the most amazing panorama of the inner Rhodopes - the sentence that is present in every ad copy for Velingrad.
If you walk a little further, you will reach Ostrets peak, from which you can see a fabulous view of Rila, Pirin and the Rhodopes in clear and good weather. To do this, you need to descend from Vazova Polyana in a low saddle and then climb the slope of Malak Ostrets Peak. Along it, you should walk in a southerly direction along the almost flat ridge and reach the foot of Golyam Ostrets. The climb up is steep but short and certainly worth it!
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