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Meeting on Iron Curtain Trail

On 3 and 4 November in Svilengrad a meeting was organized to develop a long term strategy for establishing  and promoting the southeastern section of the European biking route number 13, known as the Iron Curtain Trail.

The 7000 kilometers route of the Iron Curtain begins at the Barents Sea on the Russian-Norwegian border and ends on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. "The goal is to promote tourism in the former military zones. Some time ago this was the line dividing the continent into East and West. When the  communism collapsed in 1989 there was a physical and ideological border between the two hostile blocks," said German MEP Michael Kramer – initiator of the idea. The route is mainly targeted at bikers.

The route passes through the Eastern Rhodopes, coming from Smolyan and continueing through Rudozem and Madan - Zlatograd - Ustra and Dzhebel - Momchilgrad - Krumovgrad - Ivaylovgrad Slaveynovo border crossing. Here the route goes to Greece and again enters Bulgaria at border crossing Ormenion near Svilengrad.

The project is supported  by the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism witch which the project “New Thracian Gold” has already established partnership.

NTG is expected to cooperate with BAAT for the sustainability of the project. NTG will introduce the local people of the Eastern Rhodopes to the opportunities this route opens for tourism. It will also assist in marking and placing signs, and NTG will be involved in promotion of the Iron Curtain Trail. A special long distances walking and biking route in the Eastern Rhodopes, currently developed by NTG, will cross the Euro biking route 13 at a few spots, and the plans are to place signs here with information on both routes.

The Iron Curtain Trail will be used in particular by West European bikers who carry only the most necessary, they are generally solvent, prefer to sleep in good hotels and guest houses, eat in local restaurants and want to see all type of of remains of the Iron Curtain - statues of former communist leaders, abandoned outpost, towers, etc. "The route passes through a unique set of biotopes, called European Green Belt.Therefore it is designed for slow tourism and is not meant for cars," says Kramer. We hope to get people out of their cars and plunge  into the nature. The aim is to develop new green tourism, in border regions, that have not yet revealed its full potential.



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