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Kardzhali town

   Kardzhali is a town in Southern Bulgaria and it is located in the valley of Arda river, which is the biggest river in the Eastern Rhodopes Mountains. Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, lies some 250 km to the northwest and Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, lies some 100 km to northwest again. The closest border checkpoints are:


  1. Makaza - 65 km south of Kardzhali, connects Kirkovo with Komotini in Greece
  2. Zlatograd which is 70 km away from Kardzhali to the south and connects Bulgaria with Greece
  3. Ivaylovgrad which is 100 km away from Kardzhali to the east and connects Bulgaria with Greece
  4. Svilengrad which is 130 km away from Kardzhali and connects Bulgaria with the republics of Turkey and Greece

    The first mention of the name Kardzhali appears in a Turkish register of 1607. Two centuries later, a French scholar and traveler writes about a small settlement with a market place and a mosque, called Kardzhali. In 1934 Kardzhali was officially pronounced a town and a municipality center. The town’s official holiday is October 21 – on this date in 1912 Kardzhali was added to the territory of Bulgaria, having till then been within the Ottoman Empire. In honour of this day the Municipality Administration of Kardzhali organizes annually a cultural program.
    Nowadays the inhabitants of the town of Kardzhali are around 40 000. The others live and work abroad or in other Bulgarian cities. Kardzhali is a model of a multiethnic community, as people of various ethic origins live together in it. Thus the different cultures and traditions make the city an attractive place to live, to organize culture events and active holidays.
    Entering the city from the north, you will be greeted by the statue of Orpheus, who is the symbol of the Rhodopes Mountains. On the crossroad of the main bus station of the town boasts a monumental piece of the plastic arts – Orpheus’ lyre which welcomes all the visitors. Kardzhali is the home of one of the finest museums in Bulgaria – the Regional Museum of History. The building of the museum was declared a monument of culture, because of its history and unique architecture. Other beautiful buildings are the Art Gallery “Stanka Dimitrova”, the municipal building called “the White Ship” due to its specific outline, the mosaic on the building of the Kardzhali Police Department, the house of the Kerimovi family, etc. Kardzhali is also proud of having the singing clock tower, which is the only one working in Southern Bulgaria. It plays songs from the Revival period at each round hour.
   One of the symbols of the town is the dam lake of Kardzhali, built on Arda river and the first of the three дам лакес on the cascade “Arda”. It offers good accommodation on both recreation areas – Glavatartsi and Enchets. The dam wall is unique with the combination of arc shape and height of 109 m. Part of the dam lake of Studen Kladenets (the second in the cascade) is also on the territory of the municipality. Two protected areas “Sredna arda” and “Yumruk skala” gives shelter to Black Storks, Wild cats, protected butterfly species and bird species like the Rock Thrush as well as the endemic plant Mullein (Verbascum Rupestre).

    Total of four bridges connect the banks of the river, which divides the town in two. Three parks refresh and cool off Kardzhali and its inhabitants and visitors during the summer time. The only mixed heron colony nesting in the center of a town in Bulgaria, is located in Kardzhali, near the so called “New Bridge”.
    As a hub of different ethnicities Kardzhali has managed to preserve and maintain multiple operating temples - three active temples are to be found here - The Assumption of the Holy Mother, St. George the Conqueror, and St. John the Precursor, as well as the local mosque near the central market.

    The largest and most significant cultural and historical monument in the municipality of Kardzhali is the archaeological complex Perperikon. "The Rock City" is located 20 km northeast of the town and is unique in its size, location, purpose, structure and strategic plan. It’s also unique with the combination of several cultural layers from different periods in time - Thracian, Roman and Byzantine.
     Another interesting monument of the Thracian ages is the cave “Womb” which can be easily reached on a marked trail. It is located 25 km northwest of Kardzhali, near the Kardzhali dam lake.
     The Fortress of Monek, which is the highest fortress in the Eastern Rhodopes, is located 5 km east of Kardzhali. The natural phenomenons the Stone Mushrooms near the village of Beli Plast and the Petrified Wedding near the village Zimzelen are also very interesting. Numerous caves and rock formations carved into the rocks could be found near the villages of Shiroko Pole, Lisitsite and Dazhdovnitsa.

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