MELNIK: THE SMALLEST TOWN IN BULGARIA
Bulgaria is the size of Tennessee. Small country with many beautiful cities, gorgeous mountains and very attractive seacoast line!
Most people who visit Bulgaria do the regulars: Sofia-Plovdiv-Varna-Veliko Tarnovo. Sometimes they add Bourgas to the list, but that’s it. Very few take the time to explore the small towns of Bulgaria, such as the town of Melnik.
Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria. It is nicely situated in the southwest corner of the country and only few kilometers away from the Macedonian or Greek borders. The year round population of the town today is little more than 200 people.
Once upon a time…over 40,000 people lived in the town of Melnik
Melnik is located on the banks of the Struma River. The valleys once, a very long time ago, used to be a sea bottom. Because of that today, Melnik attracts visitors to its white sand pyramids. Nature formed and easy to hike, they reveal a stunning view of the Struma River Valley once a top.
Melnik used to be the ONLY road connecting the Orient to Greece. It was also a major silk route and merchants coming from Asia had to go through the town of Melnik in order to take their silk to the Aegean. Today, Melnik continues to attract visitors, but primarily with its wine and the local grape variety of Broad Melnik Vine.
MELNIK WINE & THE STRUMA RIVER WINE REGION
The banks of the Struma River have always been favorable to growing grapes. Starting with the ancient Thracians and going into the Roman Empire, the valley is one of the most fruitful wine regions of Bulgaria.
The Broad Melnik Vine gives great red wine, which local wine makers have also turned into the popular Sandansky Misket (white wine). The grapes reach ‘maturity’ in October. This variety is popular with its late ripening, so wine makers have combined it with the Early Melnik Vine and the French Valdiguie. Thus, they can pick up the grapes in September instead of late October to mid-November.
Zlaten Rozhen, Orbelus, Villa Melnik are some of Bulgaria’s best wineries and they are all located in the Melnik Region. The so called “Rupite” near the town of Petrich and the nearby ancient Roman settlement of Heraklea Sinthica make Melnik a great wine and tourist destination.
The region favors moderate to warm climate and the nearby Rozhen Monastery — a twin monastery to the one in Athos, Greece — makes the trip even more interesting!
MELNIK: ARCHITECTURAL PRESERVE
Aside from the its white sand pyramids, unique culture and traditions, absolutely great wine, Melnik has also been preserved as a center for architectural heritage.
The white houses of Melnik might seem identical to the first time visitors, but they are not. One thing they do share, however, is the main architectural idea behind them. They all have a solid stone made foundation, white in colors, and two-three stories high above the ground. Each house has its own wine cellar in the stone made basements and locals continue to keep the tradition of “home made Melnik 55 wine”, again, made out of the Broad Melnik Vine. You can’t visit a house without tasting their home made wine! It could be considered offensive. To top that, the local cuisine presents some of the finest meat containing meals that perfectly fit this great red wine.
The Kordopulov house is one Melnik’s best museums to visit. The house belonged to one of the regions most popular and wealthiest merchants. Built on top of a hill and specifically designed for wine making, storing and sales, the Kordopulov house will give you the best story of the town and what life in Melnik used to be prior the world wars I & II.
If you have time, visit the Wine Museum of Melnik too. Wine older than you and I both will be offered to you, as well as some of the oldest methods for grape picking, grape fermentation and other deep wine secrets of the specific to the Melnik region.
We can definitely help you organize and plan your trip to Melnik. Contact us here for more details.
If you are looking to do a wine tour only, please contact our partners at Bulgaria Wine Tours.