Ivaylovgrad – the southern fairy tale of Bulgaria
Ivaylovgrad is one of the bigger towns in the Eastern Rhodopes. Approximately 3500 people are living in this city. Different churches can be visited in Ivaylovgrad and a winery as well. There are many facilities available like a bank, several local markets, a small tourist information centre and a history museum. You can spend some time in this town but also rent a bike in the tourist centre for exploring the surroundings.
Villa Armira is a highlight but also many natural places are worth a visit! Mandritsa and Odrintsi are almost abandoned villages that are like an open air museum, it is wonderful to walk through the sandy streets and watch the houses and people in the gardens. On Wednesday morning a market with fresh fruits and vegetables and some other stuff like clothes is located in the centre of Ivaylovgrad. For a nice overview of the city you can walk uphill to Dupkata area, a good place for Orchids.
THE 7 BEST Things to Do in Ivaylovgrad
From Villa “Armira” and Ivaylovgrad dam to villages Madrintsa and Dolno Lukovo:
1. Mountain biking
In Ivaylovgrad is a small tourism centre. Here you can come for information about the area and suggestions about what places to visit. Also there is the possibility for renting a bike here. In the surroundings of Ivaylovgrad are many possibilities for a nice cycling tour. You can go for an off-road tour to a fortress and monastery.
Another option is to cycle just outside Ivaylovgrad and enjoy the landscape. Ivaylovgrad region is known for its wine and therefore high amounts of grapes. In the surroundings of the city many vineyards can be found. Enough possibilities to make a nice tour!
2. Villa Armira
Villa Armira is a luxurious villa-palace built by Romans. The lavish decorations and original marble mosaics are defined as Roman provincial art and architecture.
It is the richest private palace of this period ever revealed in Bulgaria, built by a famous Thracian aristocrat. When one of the inhabitants of Villa Armira died their bodies would go to “The great mound”. An impressive tumulus, just one kilometre away from Villa Armira. This is not an official site, but if you visit Villa Armira this is worth a visit as well. .
3. Mandrintsa and Dolno Lukovo
At a distance of around 20 kilometres away from Ivaylovgrad you can find two very interesting villages. These are Mandritsa and Dolno Lukovo. They are just seven kilometres apart but completely different. Mandritsa was founded by Albanian people and the houses are built mostly out of clay.
While the houses in Dolno Lukovo were built by Bulgarians and are built mostly out of stones. Both villages are almost abandoned but there is more than enough to see. Some people describe these villages as ‘outdoor museums’ and the villages are definitely worth a visit!
4. Likana Orchid meadows
Likana is a protected site near Ivaylovgrad (just like Dupkata). Due to the geology and the climate the Eastern Rhodopes are determined as an area with one of the richest biodiversity in Europe. Because of the position of the Eastern Rhodopes, species typical of the flora of both Europe, the Mediterranean, and of Caucasus and Anatolia can be found here.
Around 13 rare Orchid species can be found here with other endemic, rare or endangered plant and animal species as well. This makes a visit to Likana definitely worthwhile when you are in the Eastern Rhodopes. It is strongly recommended to visit these sites with a local guide because the sites are protected, please contact the reception of the hotel for this.
Hidden gems of Ivaylovgrad
1. Dupkata Orchid meadows
Dupkata is a protected site just 1,5 kilometre away from Ivaylovgrad (just like Likana). Due to the geology and the climate the Eastern Rhodopes are determined as an area with one of the richest biodiversity in Europe. Because of the position of the Eastern Rhodopes, species typical of the flora of both Europe, the Mediterranean, and of Caucasus and Anatolia can be found here.
Around 13 rare orchid species can be found here with other endemic, rare or endangered plant and animal species as well. It is strongly recommended to visit these sites with a local guide because the sites are protected, Please contact the reception of the hotel for this.
2 . Lyutitsa fortress
In Bulgarian history this fortress is known as the “Marble City”. This is exactly why this fortress is still intact. Due to the strong marble walls this fortress is one of the best preserved strongholds in Bulgaria.
This makes it very impressive to see. In this fortress some relicts of a church with the graves can be found. Also a well can be seen. From the fortress walls you can enjoy an amazing view over the area. The end of Rhodope mountain is also visible from this point.