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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Historic ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak – a silent witness to the cruel suppression of the April Uprising

Updated: Apr 17

Dear friends, once again I am in Batak - this glorious Bulgarian city, I walk through its small streets, cross the bridges over Stara Reka and somehow imperceptibly my walk takes me again in front of the old wooden, wide open doors of the church "Sveta Nedelya" - silent witnessed the brutal suppression of the April Uprising.

I bowed my head, shed a tear, and entered.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
The old wooden gate of the church "Sveta Nedelya"

The solid stone posture of the temple rises before me and slowly, even monotonously, begins to tell me its story, which I share with you now.

Church "Holy Sunday" was built in 1813 in the then rapidly developing village of Batak.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
The commemorative marble tablet built into the walls of the church

The main reason for the economic prosperity of the settlement was the extraction of timber and related crafts. As a result of all this, the Batachians became wealthy and built strong trade connections, through which they subsequently reached the near and far ends of the vast Ottoman Empire. And so, as is the case in many places around the Bulgarian lands, part of the funds of the Batash shepherds were invested in the construction of cultural institutions - first a church, and then a school, built in 1835.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

The site for building the church was donated by the then mukhtar (mayor) of the village, Todor Balinov. According to legend, the people of Batac managed to beg the Pasha of Plovdiv to build a small church. He agreed, but gave them a condition that it should be erected in only 3 months, hoping that they would not succeed. The population of Bata mobilized all their strength and built the temple with voluntary labor in only 75 days.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

Church "Sveta Nedelya" stands out, not only with its extraordinary history, but also with its original architecture.

The construction of the church is a kind of transcription of a medieval cross-domed plan. A blind spherical dome rests on four pillars above the nave, and in the arms of the inscribed cross there are small also blind domes, which are repeated in the altar space and the extensive vestibule, divided into seven bays by three massive pillars.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

The entire complex system of vaults is hidden in the attic space. Only the main dome has an independent four-pitched roof. The walls and multi-domed cover are massively built. The altar space is extensive, with a central semi-circular apse, a very small proscomidian niche and a separate entrance from the south.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

The whole body of the church is buried sensitively under the terrain of the courtyard.

After the Liberation, during the transformation of "Holy Sunday" into a memorial church, the interior space and the iconostasis were rebuilt.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

The first spiritual ministers in "Holy Week" were the Batashian Fathers Dimitar Paunov (Popov), Iliya Yankov, Neicho Paunov (Popov) and Petar Popiliev, who are close relatives of the highly meritorious abbots of the Rila Monastery - Archimandrite Joseph (the Builder), Hieromonk Kiril (spiritual father of Vasil Levski) and Hieromonk Nicephorus. The last two are brothers of Father Dimitar and Father Neicho, and Archimandrite Joseph is their uncle.



It is noteworthy that the church was not served in Greek, but only in the Church Slavonic language and the sermons were delivered in Bulgarian. The Church considered itself self-sufficient and independent long before the decision of the Church question by the Turks on a national scale. The reforms of 1829 were overtaken, probably because Batak is far from Plovdiv, where the bishop was Greek, and probably because the Rila Monastery patronized the church in Batak.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
Flowering rose bush in the churchyard

In this way, in those dark years of injustice and oppression, the Church of Saint Sunday is the only lamp, sprinkling sparks of hope for brighter times. The temple, which turned into a spiritual center, gave birth to the already patriotic Batachians, a longing for spiritual and political freedom. Bearing in mind the environment in which the local Bulgarians grew up and lived, it is not at all surprising their memorable participation in the struggle for liberation, the peak of which was their preparation and participation in the April Uprising, which turned into an epic of heroism and self-denial. During the uprising, events took place in the church that would later determine its historical significance.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

Due to its exceptional strength, because it was built mainly of stone, the church remains intact to this day.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

After the Liberation, "Holy Sunday" ceased to be used for worship. Batacani decided that it should be preserved as a monument to those who died during the cruel suppression of the April Uprising.


In memory of Batachians who died in 1876, by the grateful Armenian people
In memory of Batachians who died in 1876, by the grateful Armenian people

On April 3, 2011, in the "St. Alexander Nevsky" memorial church in the city of Sofia, during the Holy Liturgy celebrated by His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim Bulgarian, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church canonized as saints all the Bulgarian Christians killed in 1876 in the church. Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak. The memory of the Holy Batash New Martyrs is officially honored on May 17.

Historical ossuary church "Sveta Nedelya" in the city of Batak has been declared an immovable cultural value (cultural monument) with the category of national importance - historical, architectural-building and artistic value.


A bench in front of the historical ossuary church "Sveta Nedelya" in the town of Batak

Absolutely every Bulgarian must at least once in his life visit this memorable place, which has preserved the memory of those desperate times! Even today, the blood-stained wood, the bones of the heroes, the marks of scimitars and bullets scream at full voice the history of those terrible and majestic days and nights, while our eyes, of the Bulgarians who came here to this memorable place, are filled with tears!


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

My dear friends, now I ask you to forgive me, because I will allow myself to take you back to those dark, difficult, inhuman times of the summer of 1876, when the Bulgarians dared to rise up for their freedom and even for a few days at least called themselves free!

The Batash massacre

The Batak Massacre was the slaughter of a significant part of the Bulgarian Christian population in Batak, one of the large villages in the Peshtersko region, during the suppression of the April Uprising. It was carried out by Ottoman Bashibozuk* from the neighboring Pomash villages under the direct command of Ahmed aga Barutanliyata**.

*Bashibozuk (in Turkish: başıbozuk) is a name for a type of irregular army in the Ottoman Empire, as well as for a separate soldier from these troops - Muslims who assist the Ottoman government in suppressing rebellions or in war. In translation, the word means damaged head, which emphasizes their lack of obedience and complete disorganization.

They were recruited from representatives of the most militant Muslim nationalities in the empire, most often from Asia Minor and Albania - Arnaut Bashibozus or Arnauts for short. The state provides the bashibozus only with weapons, without giving a salary, and the bashibozus support themselves by robbery and marauding.

Bashibozus were the perpetrators of some of the bloodiest events in Bulgarian history before and after the Liberation, examples in this regard are the Batash massacre, the Scary one in Karlovo, the Staro Zagora massacre and the Madzharovo massacre.

In 1876, Barclay wrote of the Bashibozus:

These Bashibozus were mostly small and swarthy people, dressed in brown, dirty and tattered uniforms and armed with old flintlocks, sabers and pistols at will...

Obedience to their officers is their last concern...

And not only are they thieves in peacetime, but they are almost useless when called upon to fight…

They desert at the first volley, and amuse themselves afterwards in slaughtering women and children, and destroying the property of friends and foes alike.

**Ahmed aga Kasalitsky, also known as the Barutanliya, is a pomak, a police inspector of the Dospat Nahiya, located in the village of Barutin and is one of the main leaders of the Bashibozouk, who ordered and carried out the Batash massacre during the events of the suppression of the April Uprising in 1876 .


For unknown reasons, Ahmed Aga's father, who was from the Pomash village of Kasalak, Dramsko, moved to Barutyn, which is why he was nicknamed Kasalitsky. Later he received the nickname Barutinetsa, as it was spelled in the newspapers at the time. Ahmed aga spent many years as a youth as a shepherd in Batak. There he established a good friendship with the people of Batach, and after a while the leaders of Batach recommended him to the Pazardzhik authorities as a police official - head of several padars in the Dospat nahiya. As such, Ahmed Agha managed to get rich quickly. He has his own shop, many sheep and property, and for a long time held the position of police chief of Dospatska Nahiya.

Participated in the suppression of the April Uprising in 1876. At the outbreak of the uprising, he was tasked by the Pazardzhik regional governor to mobilize the reserves from his nahiya and forward them to Pazardzhik. Together with them, he gathered about 200 Bashibozuk men - militarily untrained and uncalled for in the army - with whom he could participate in the suppression of the uprising. In order to prevent the insurrection from spreading from Batak to Razlog and Nevrokop, to this center the command sent a military column formed by the Sersky sanjak, which passed through Dospat, and Ahmed Aga with the group he had collected joined it. This group participated in the suppression of the Batak rebellion.

After the uprising, the Ottoman Empire tried to wash its hands by placing the blame squarely on the Bashibozouk and for this purpose staged an international investigation, declaring Ahmed Aga Barutinliyata wanted, along with his son Molla Ali and his son-in-law Molla Khalil.

Barutanliyata was arrested, convicted and imprisoned in Diyarbakır in Asia Minor, but was later pardoned by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. After the signing of the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, he was released. Returning to Barutin, he engaged in trade and owned large herds of cattle.

In 1880, Ahmed aga Barutinlia was appointed as a guard for the delegation of the Ottoman Empire sent to the village of Selca to meet with the delegation of Eastern Rumelia, who were to negotiate the surrender of the so-called Dark Republic of Eastern Rumelia.

Ahmed Agha died in 1881 from leprosy, which he contracted in Diyarbakır.

A brief background

After the Islamization of the Chepin Valley in the period between the 15th century and the 17th century, Batak was geographically surrounded by Pomach villages and remained one of the few Christian islands in the Rhodopes.


Batak wooden panel

A revolutionary committee in the settlement was founded by Panayot Volov on February 21, 1876.

The chairman of the committee is Petar Goranov, who took part in the meeting, which took place in the historical area of Oborishte. The Turkish authorities suspect revolutionary activity in Batak and send police commissioner Chitak Ahmed and the police to search Goranov's house, the people of the village sneak the suspect out with cunning, using the fact that he is from the Kavlak family and instead of his house, they point to Goryo Kavlakov's house, where no nothing was found.

The Batash Uprising

Batak's role in the April Epic was to occupy the warehouses in the surrounding settlements and provide provisions to the insurgents in the surrounding territories, blocking the important roads and thus preventing the Turkish soldiers from receiving consignments of provisions. Batak had to deal with the surrounding Pomaška villages (Chepino - today a district of the city of Velingrad, Korovo - today the village of Draginovo, Ortakoy - today the city of Kostandovo). The only problem was that during the entire uprising, Batak had to be guarded alone by the Turkish army, but the risk was taken.


A bench in front of the historical ossuary church "Sveta Nedelya" in the town of Batak
Batak 1876

After the beginning of the April Uprising, on April 20, the summer of 1876, part of the armed, able-bodied men from the population of the village of Batak, led by Voivode Petar Goranov and Voivode Stefan Trendafilov Kerelov (five hundred) rose up against Turkish power. As advocated in the plan, the rebels removed part of the Turkish authorities when an army of Bashibozus led by Ahmed Agha Barutanliyata was sent against them.

The elders of the village and the chorbadji decided to save the lives of the people in the settlement and for that they called the Barutanlia, to hand over their weapons to him, as he declared with an oath that he would leave as soon as he received the ammunition of the insurgents. During the surrender of the weapons, some of the people in the village managed to escape, but then the settlement was surrounded so that no one could leave it. The Bashibozus spread out among the houses and began to rob them. Many of the more remote homes in the village were burned, and the bashibozus were shooting at them. People began to hide in the more solidly constructed buildings in the village that would hold up, such as the church and the school, but also in some of the herdsmen's houses. Subsequently, the Bashibozouk carried out a mass slaughter. Due to the strong echo in Europe of these events, the world learned about the will for liberation of the Bulgarian people.

The Turkish authorities did not even pretend that any Turks had been killed here, or that the inhabitants offered any resistance, when Ahmet-aga, who commanded the massacres, came with the Bashabozuks and demanded that they surrender their arms. They at first refused, but offered to hand them over to the regular troops or to the kaimakan in Tatar Bazardzhik. This, however, Ahmet-aga refuses to allow and insists that their arms be handed over to him and his bashibozus. After considerable hesitation and negotiation this was done. It must not be supposed that these were weapons which the inhabitants had specially prepared for an insurrection. They were simply the weapons which all, Christians and Turks, carried and carried openly, as is the custom here. What followed the supply of arms we shall best understand from the continuation of the recital of what we saw yesterday. At the point where we got down into the main street of the place, the people who had gathered around us pointed out to us a pile of ashes by the roadside, among which were distinguished a great number of calcined bones. Here a heap of dead bodies was burnt, and it appears that the Turks made vain and misguided attempts at cremation.

Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan - journalist and specialist war correspondent for the London Daily News, on his first visit to Batak

The massacre

This is how Zahari Stoyanov describes these and some of the further events in his "Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings":

On May 1, the enemy entered the village through the lower end. Instead of resistance, he, the enemy, was even invited by the Bulgarians-Chorbadji themselves, with a message that the village would hand over its weapons. Several persons, indeed, surrendered their arms to the enemy; but the designs of this vile enemy were atrocious, treacherous, filthy, and terrible. As soon as the show was over, the thugs bashibozus, sleeves rolled up. They attacked the unarmed victims, decapitated them with axes, leading them one by one to a tree lying on the ground, where they chopped them like firewood. Cries, screams, and pleas came from the mouths of all, but instead of mercy, it excited a fiercer vengeance and a kind of beastly celebration in the midst of these human butchers. This barbaric act of the Bashibozus threw the whole village into terror and trepidation. Women, children and bare-headed men ran through the village towards the upper end.


The murder of the mayor and spiritual leader Trendafil Toshev Kerelov is described in an eyewitness account - the wife of his son Angel Kerelov - Bosilka:

My father-in-law went to meet the bashibozus when the village was surrounded and met Ahmed agha who said he wanted the weapons collected from the villagers. Trendafil went and collected it. After it was surrendered, he was fired upon with a rifle and the bullet grazed his eye. Then I heard Ahmed Aga order with his own mouth that Trendafil be impaled and burned. The words he used were Shishak aor, which in Turkish means to skewer like the pieces of meat called kebab. They then took all his money from him, stripped him of his clothes, pulled out his eyes and teeth, and slowly rammed him into a car until he came out through his mouth. Then they roasted him on the fire while still alive. He lived for half an hour during the terrible scene. At that time I was very close to Ahmed agha. Apart from me, there were several Bulgarian women here. We were surrounded by bashibozus, who surrounded us on all sides, and we were forced to watch what became of Trendafil.

One of the children of Angel and Bosilka Kerelovi, Vladimir – still a baby in a colander, was impaled on a bashibozuka sword in front of mother Bosilka:

While this was going on, Ahmed Agha's son took the child from my back and cut him to pieces with his sword before my eyes. Trendafil's charred remains lay there for a month and were then buried.

The centurion Petar Kerelov was brutally murdered after having his eyes gouged out and his tongue cut out in front of his father Trendafil Kerelov and other Batachians.

Robert Jasper More's work "Under the Balkans", together with the reports of the American Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan - journalist and specialist war correspondent of the London newspaper "Daily News", are a valuable source of information about the rebellious year 1876. It also describes the death of Trendafil Kerelov:

The killing of Elder Trendafil was extremely barbaric. After gouging out his eyes and pulling out his teeth, he was impaled and roasted alive in the midst of a circle of women, who were made by the bashibozus to remain spectators until his death. Another man's legs, arms, nose and ears were cut off.

Women, girls and children were slaughtered in the houses and in the streets, while many men were driven to the woodsheds and beheaded with sabers. Very few managed to escape, most of the inhabitants were killed in conditions of great barbarism.

 

In "Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings" Zahari Stoyanov described what happened:

Having already made sure that Batacheni were in his hands, he (Ahmed aga) jumped to his feet, looked at his bloodmen, roared as much as he could:

March! De guerreim sissy!,

having also pointed with his finger to our messengers, so frightened and half dead, who were fenced in like sheep prepared for the slaughter. At the voice of the Barutanlia, the Bashibozus jumped up, some with a drawn knife, some with a mounted rifle, surrounded the victims and gnashed their teeth at them - they wanted to tear them alive; they raced through each other, like wolves, who would first get his tooth bloody. Petar Trendafilov, Vranko Dimitrov and Petar Kavadzhiev were handed over to several kesedjii, who there, a little aside, chopped them into small pieces.

Angel Kavlak, that Turkish schemer who played a cunning part in the time of the uprising, who ran from position to position to persuade and discourage, at last who acted as an agent of the Gunpowder Plot and caused the death of many brave Batachians such as chickens, set up a reward for his deed - fell to the ground, felled by a dozen bullets, apart from the place where the real martyrs laid their bones. In general, the Turks in 1876 did this to the traitors and to those submissive heads who went to kiss their feet and surrender. We see the same thing happening in Peruštitsa, in Koprivshtitsa, in the Dryanovskii monastery, etc.

Trendafil Toshev Kerelov was the most martyred of the above five people. He was laid, like Vasil Petleshkova in Bratsigovo, between two fires lit with straw, where the Bulgarian martyr died, burnt like a mackerel. His desperate scream was not able to break a single Muslim heart...

Pregnant women were gassed and their unborn children were taken out on the bayonets of the bashibozus.

On the other side of the road were the skeletons of two children lying side by side, partly covered with stones, and with terrible, saber-cuts in their little skulls. The number of children killed in these massacres is something enormous. They were often impaled on bayonets, and we have several eye-witness accounts of seeing the little babies carried through the streets, both here and at Oluk-Kui, on the points of bayonets. The reason is simple. When a Mohammedan has killed a certain number of infidels, he is sure of Paradise, whatever his sins may be. Muhammad was probably inclined to count armed men only, but the ordinary Muslim takes the rule in its wider acceptance and counts women and children also. The advantage of killing children is that it can be done without danger and that a child counts as much as an armed man. Here in Batak, the Bashibozuk, to inflate the numbers, dismembered pregnant women and killed unborn babies.

Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan - journalist and specialist war correspondent for the London Daily News, on his first visit to Batak

Other houses in which 20, 30 or even 40 women had shut themselves up were burned with them.

A dark, terrible night had fallen, cut magically by flying bullets and by the flames of the suddenly terrifying conflagrations, sparkling in the bottomless dark sky. The roar of rampaging attackers and the screams of lost mothers and children, of the wounded - lying in various corners - and of the overwhelmed and suffocated in the burning house complete the picture. From this hour onwards, the fate of Batak is nothing but agony.

 The school

The school, which was near the Church of Saint Nedelya, turned out to be the last refuge of about 200 people who were burned alive while hiding in it, the author of "Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings" describes the events in it as follows:

The Bashibozus entered without any hindrance, and the slaughter began from the very door. Many were hidden inside the closets, which were also forced and pricked; among the latter were: priest Neicho Paunov and the teacher Tondzhorov, a native of Samokov. The bloodsuckers first took out the eyes of the first of them, pierced him like a sieve all over his body, until this Christian martyr died in their arms. Near him, the teacher Tondzhorov also died, who was also cut all over his body. The poor martyr of enlightenment! He died in the same building where a few days ago he preached the word of light from the humble teacher's chair. In the lower floor of the school, there were up to 200 people hidden, men, women and children, whom the bloodsuckers, due to their haste, could not find. But don't you think that simple chance saved them from death? No, reader! They got rid of the scimitar, were deprived of the light action of the bullet, but burned alive, like worms in rotten wood, in the lower story of the school, because the bashibozus on their way set fire to this building on all four sides. Their shrieks and howls of terrible anguish were heard in a little while by the beasts, who perceived that they had made a mistake, inadvertently, not in regard to the lot of the two hundred victims, but that they could not pluck them from the front, which circumstance constituted the real loss of these Beaconsfield brothers. "Language!" So many clothes were lost, and maybe money too - they said with Turkish coolness and went to the door of the church, without even honoring the altar of the two hundred martyrs with their presence.

And now we begin to approach the church and the school. The ground here is covered with skeletons clinging to clothes and bits of rotting flesh; the air is heavy with a slight foul odor which grows stronger as we advance. It's getting awful. The school is on one side of the road, the church on the other. The school building, judging by the walls, which are partly standing, was a fine large building, capable of accommodating two or three hundred children. Beneath the stones and rubbish, which cover the floor to a height of several feet, are the bones and ashes of two hundred women and children, burnt alive between these four walls. There is a wide shallow pit right next to the school building. One hundred bodies were buried here two weeks after the massacre. But the dogs revealed them in part. The water has flowed in, and now there lies a horrible cesspool, with human remains floating or lying half exposed in the mud. Nearby, along the banks of the small stream that runs through the village, there is a sawmill. The pit below is full of dead bodies floating in the water. The banks of this stream were once literally covered with corpses of men and women, young girls and children lying there rotting in the sun and eaten by dogs. But the pitiful sky poured down upon them, and the little stream swelled and rose and carried the bodies far away, and scattered them far down its grassy banks, through its narrow gorges and dark defiles under the thick bushes and shady woods as far as the Cave and even to Tartar Bazarjik, at a distance of forty miles.

Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan

Holy Sunday Church

In the course of the uprising, the church "Sveta Nedelya" turned out to be the last stronghold of the rebelling Batachians.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
Behind the high stone wall of the church

As the most massive building in the village (built entirely of stone, with strong oak doors, and surrounded by a high stone fence), and because they hoped for God's mercy and did not allow that the temple could be encroached upon, about two thousand people gathered in it, mostly women, children and old people.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

The defense of the church lasted for three days, and the shooting did not stop for a moment.

In order to force the Batachians to surrender, beehives with bees and burning straw with gas were placed inside.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
Tracks from the fires

There was not enough air and most of the people died of suffocation.

Almost simultaneously with the destruction of the school, the bashibozus began to cut holes in the fence of the churchyard and shoot at everyone there, killing anyone who tried to escape.

Some of the attackers tried to break into the church from the roof, but without much success, although they managed to fire a few shots at those barricaded inside.

The most painful thing for everyone was thirst, since there was no water in the area of the church. To leaven the lips of their thirsty children, the mothers used olive oil from the lamp in front of the icons, and when it was finished, they began to leaven the mouths of their children with the blood of those killed.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
The well dug by the women

An old man advised them to start digging the ground to look for underground water. They dug with their bare hands to find underground water.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

Unfortunately, the spring happened to be very dry and not a drop of water appeared.

The most terrible part of the massacre in Batak took place on the night of May 2nd-3rd in the Church of Saint Nedelya and in the middle of its courtyard.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak

On the morning of May 3, the Bashibozuk managed to break into the church yard and kill the people in it, but the entrance door of the temple did not yield, as it was jammed by the people who were in the church.

The people were pressed inside as if in a cage*** many children and invalids died of suffocation; only those who could throw themselves on people's heads managed to enter.

***Skendja – a device, a clamp for torturing prisoners

The survivors in the church decided to go outside after realizing that they were doomed inside.


Historical ossuary church "Holy Sunday" in the city of Batak
Blood stains

When they opened the gates of the church, Ahmed agha Barutanliata was waiting outside with his bashibozuks. A merciless slaughter began, only those who persuaded to accept Islam remained alive and the rest were beheaded. Ahmed Aga aimed to repopulate Batak with the Bulgarians he had Turkified, but they proved to be insufficient.

This is how the scene is described by Zahari Stoyanov:

The half-killed population not only believed the enemy's promises, which they had already tried several times, but as they had no other escape, seeing that they would be killed in the church as well, opened the door. A second time it had the misfortune to imagine that the turban also had a human heart, that the predatory bashibozuk could also sympathize, be propitiated, seeing with its own eyes the situation of the imprisoned, strangled and trampled children outside the door, the other frightened ones, who together with their unhappy mothers and sisters wept and tore the hearts of those present. A picture, as you see, one of the most terrible and heart-rending, but a picture, we repeat, of a man of soul and heart, and not of a bashibozuk. As soon as these last came to the door, with bare scythes in their hands, they all fell down in supplication, the women showed their children, and in order to somehow propitiate the bloodsuckers, they wanted to kiss the handles of the bloody scythes, calling them sons, brothers and fathers. All left! The Bashibozus looked coolly upon all this; they stepped over the lumbering corpses before the door and began to swing the scythes again. And so, in the church fence, the massacre continued for several hours. From the beginning, the victims were robbed and tortured to reveal their wealth, and then they were impaled, i.e. their lives being spared for a few minutes, while they gratified the rapacious thirst of the plunderers, many men saved their lives by lying down among the slaughter and pretending to be dead.

 

Finally, after the massacre, one of the hodjas climbed a tree in the churchyard and announced over the thousands of martyred bodies that there is no other god but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet. Another hodja from the "Batashki Harmani" elevation announced to the surviving Christians that the Gyaur was already over and that on the site of the burnt and ruined Batak, barley would be sown for the horses of the orthodox. Few witnesses managed to escape from this hellish bacchanalia, who would later tell about what happened.

Immediately after the deeply tragic events during the suppression of the April Uprising, an attempt was made to burn down the church. It is saved by the fact that it is built entirely of stone.

As an architectural structure, it has been preserved as it was. Only the wooden iconostasis is burning.

Learning that, despite the remoteness of the settlement, an international inquiry commission will come to investigate the crimes committed, created at the initiative of the Russian government, the Turkish authorities are trying to erase the traces of the massacre. Attempts to bury the thousands of corpses were unsuccessful, because of the appalling stench that was present (the bodies stood for more than three months in the open and unburied). An attempt is made to collect and bury in a mass grave in the temple yard some of the rotting bodies.


We entered the churchyard, but the smell here became so bad that it was almost impossible to go on. We take a handful of tobacco and hold it to our nose as we continue our investigation. The church was not very large, and was surrounded by a low stone wall, enclosing a small churchyard about fifty yards wide and seventy-five long. At first we do not perceive anything in particular, and the stench was so strong that we scarcely looked round, but we see that the place is heaped up with stones and rubbish to a height of five or six feet above the level of the street, and on inspection we find that what appears to be a table of stones and rubbish, is in reality a huge pile of human bodies covered with a thin layer of stones. The whole little churchyard is heaped with them to the depth of three or four feet, and thence comes the dreadful smell.

A few weeks after the massacre, orders were sent to bury the dead. But the stench had by this time become so murderous that it was impossible to carry out the order or even to remain within the vicinity of the village. The men sent to do the work had contented themselves with burying a few bodies, throwing a little earth over others as they lay, and here in the churchyard they had tried to cover this vast heap of festering humanity by throwing stones and rubbish over the walls without daring to enter. They had only partially succeeded. The dogs had been working there ever since, and could now be seen emerging from that monstrous grave with heads, arms, legs, feet, and hands in terrible confusion.

We were told that three thousand people lay in this little churchyard alone, and we could believe it. It was a terrible sight—a sight that would haunt a man for a lifetime. In this festering mass were little curly heads crushed by heavy stones; little feet, not as long as your finger, on which the flesh had been dried hard by the fiery heat before it had time to decompose; tiny baby hands outstretched as if for help; babies who had died wondering at the bright gleam of sabers and the red hands of the fierce-eyed men who held them; children who had died cowering in fear and terror; young girls who had died crying and wailing and begging for mercy; mothers who had died trying to protect their young with their own frail bodies all lay together, festering in one horrible mass. They are quiet enough now. No tears, no shouts, no crying, no screams of terror, no prayers for mercy. The crops are rotting in the fields, and the reapers are rotting here in the churchyard. We examined the church, which was blackened by the burnt timbers, but not destroyed, nor even much injured. It was a low building with a low roof, supported by heavy irregular arches, which, when we looked, seemed scarcely tall enough for a tall man to stand under. What we saw there was too terrifying for more than a cursory glance. A great number of bodies were partially burnt there, and the charred and blackened remains, which seemed to fill it half up to the low dark arches, and make them still lower and darker, lay in a state of decay too ghastly to behold. I had never imagined anything so horrible. We all turned sick and faint and staggered out of the creepy vermin house, glad to be out on the streets again. We walked around the place and saw the same things repeated over and over a hundred times. Skeletons of men with clothes and flesh still hanging and rotting together; skulls of women, with hair trailing in the dust, bones of children and babies everywhere.

Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan

The church itself is whitewashed from the inside, but the blood in the walls is leaking, so the Turks start cutting down the walls. To this day, the carved walls are clearly visible in the temple. They are preserved as historical evidence of those events.

 

The End of the Massacre and the Wooden Bridge

After the massacre in the church, Barutanliata ordered all the survivors to assemble in front of the church, under the pretext that she would compile a list of the slain and the widows. Most of the surviving Batak population gathered as the absentee would pay with his life. The apparitions were divided into men and women. When Ahmed Agha stood in front of them, he issued a second order - for the women to line up even further away from the men, and a third - to kill the remaining (about 300) men who appeared.

On the same day, about three hundred others were killed at the wooden bridge in front of the school, first their hands, ears and noses, shoulders were cut off, and then they were killed.

The victims

It may be well, before we proceed, to say something about Batak, so that the reader may form a better idea of what happened here. It was a place of nine hundred houses and about eight or nine thousand inhabitants. As there are no census statistics in Turkey, nor really reliable statistics of any other kind, it is impossible to say exactly what the population of any one place is or was. But the simple rule for calculating five people in the house will not apply in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians, like the Russian peasantry, adhere to the old patriarchal method, and fathers and married sons with their children and their children's children live under one roof until the grandfather dies. As each son in turn marries, a new room is added to the old building, until with the new generation there will often be twenty or thirty persons living under one roof, all paying obedience and respect to the head of the family. Therefore, in estimating the population by the number of houses, an average of between eight and ten people must be considered. Edip Efendi in his report states that there are only about fourteen hundred inhabitants in the village. A more brazen falsehood was never uttered, not even by a Turk. Mr. Schuyler procured their tax roll for that year, and found that there were 1,421 able-bodied men assessed to pay military tax. This number in any European country would mean a population of about 15,000, but here it would not give more than 8,000 to 10,000 people to say, and this is the figure at which the population of the place is calculated as well by the inhabitants as by the people of A cave.

Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan - journalist and specialist war correspondent for the London Daily News, on his first visit to Batak

Dimitar Strashimirov gives information about the victims in Batak. His list contains the names and ages of 1,750 victims, as well as the neighborhood they are from. As Strashimirov himself explicitly mentions, the data do not claim to be complete and accurate. A summary of his known dead looks like this:

 

Neighborhood / Victims

Paunova Mahala / 175

Kavlakova neighborhood / 399

Stoichova mahala / 286

Samuneva Mahalla / 214

Klimentova Mahala / 650

Others / 26According to an official Ottoman report published by Dimitar Gadjanov, the largest number of Christian villages killed was in Batak, and according to the aggregated data for Plovdiv and Pazardzhik, a total of 3,044 people were killed in them, with 1,346 in Batak alone.

According to James Clark - the first foreigner to visit Batak two months after the pogrom began - all 529 houses of the village were destroyed, and the victims amounted to 1900 people.

The devastation of Batak began on May 12 (April 30 old style) and continued until the arrival of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Pogroms in Thrace, the Middle Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains in the village in August 1876, and thereafter. The number of destroyed villages in this period amounted to about one hundred, and the total number of victims to about 15,000. According to the Greek consul in Philipopol, only in Tatar Pazardzhik in the same period there were 12,000 refugees, mostly women and children from the affected villages of the kaaza of the same name . Due to the lack of impartial sources, it is not possible to identify the perpetrators until now.

Europe is outraged!

Although it ended in military failure, the April Fool's Day found a strong resonance in Europe due to the ugly reports of the barbaric atrocities being committed.


The museum in the village of Radilovo, Pazardzhik region
Museum in the village of Radilovo - a special exhibition dedicated to Lady Strangford

Batak's benefactor - Lady Emily Strangford and the American Januarius (Jean) Aloysius McGahan - a journalist and specialist war correspondent of the London newspaper "Daily News", have an essential and important role in the formation of British public opinion about the evil and black fate of the Bulgarians.


Monument to Januarius (Jan) A. McGahan in Batak City
Monument to Januarius (Jan) A. McGahan in Batak City

On July 28, 1876, McGahan visited Plovdiv, and on August 1 and 2, respectively, Peshtera and Pazardzhik, and then the village of Batak.

An eyewitness to all the evils, he sends vivid descriptions of what he experienced.

McGahan points out that out of a total Batak population of seven thousand, only two thousand survive. According to his calculations, fifty-eight Bulgarian villages were destroyed, five monasteries were razed to the ground, and a total of fifteen thousand people were brutally slaughtered.

I think that people in England and Europe in general have a very imperfect idea of what these Bulgarians are like. I have always heard them spoken of as mere savages, who were not really much more civilized than the American Indians; and I confess that I myself was not far from sharing the same opinion not long ago. I was astonished, as I believe most of my readers, to learn that there is hardly a Bulgarian village without a school; that those schools which have not been burnt by the Turks are in a very flourishing condition; that they are supported by a voluntary tax imposed by the Bulgarians on themselves, not only without being compelled by the Government, but in spite of all kinds of obstacles thrown in their way by the perversity of the Turkish authorities; that the tuition in these schools is free, and that all alike profit by it, both poor and rich; that there is hardly a Bulgarian child who does not know how to read and write; and finally, that the percentage of people who can read and write is as large in Bulgaria as in England and France.

By any chance, do the people who talk about Bulgarians as savages know these facts?

Again I thought that burning a Bulgarian village meant burning a few mud huts, which in reality were priceless and could easily be rebuilt. I was much astonished to find that the greater part of these villages were in reality well-built towns, with solid stone houses, and that in all of them there was a comparatively large number of people who had attained something like comfort, and that some of the villages might bear not a very unfavorable comparison with an English or French village.

The truth is that these Bulgarians, and not the savages we have taken them for, are actually hardworking, industrious, honest, civilized and peaceful people.

Now, as to the insurrection, there was a feeble attempt at an insurrection in three or four villages, but in Batak none, and it does not appear that a single Turk was killed here.

Januarius (Jan) A. McGahan

These reports, published in the liberal newspaper "Daily News" and reprinted by other newspapers, caused in the United Kingdom a huge wave of public indignation against Ottoman Turkey. Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, whose government supported the Ottoman Empire, tried to downplay the massacres, claiming that the Bulgarians were also to blame. These arguments have been refuted by McGahan's subsequent reporting.

The English public was deeply moved and deeply shocked by the crimes committed.

Europe is outraged!

Meetings, rallies and parliamentary debates are organized. Victor Hugo, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Oscar Wilde wrote in defense of the Bulgarians.


Monument to Victor Hugo in the city of Batak
Monument to Victor Hugo in the city of Batak

William Gladstone wrote and published his book Lessons in Slaughter.

Batak's benefactor - Lady Emily Strangford - appeals to the entire British public and Europeans in Constantinople to help the Bulgarians and creates a foundation to raise funds "Bulgarian Present Relief Fund".


Monument to Batak's Benefactor - Lady Emily Strangford
Monument to Batak's Benefactor - Lady Emily Strangford

Dear friends, I have dedicated a separate and independent post to the life and work of Batak's benefactor, Lady Emily Strangford, which you can read by following this link.

Skyler reports and McGahan reports

Eugene Schuyler (Eugene Schuyler) - American scientist, writer, traveler-researcher and the first US diplomat to visit Central Asia, and as the American Consul General in Constantinople he played a key role in creating international public opinion about the Ottoman Turkish atrocities on Bulgarian lands during The April Uprising, in his report after visiting Batak, reported that 3/4 of the population had been killed and explicitly stated the figure of 5,000 dead Bulgarians, mostly women, girls, children and the elderly. According to some researchers, there could not have been five thousand killed from a village with a population of less than four thousand inhabitants.

I saw their bones, some still with pieces of flesh on them, piled up in a lowland on the side of the hills, where the dogs had gnawed them. Not a single house has remained intact in this lovely valley. The sawmills - the town had a considerable trade in lumber and boards, which were along the river, were all burned, and of the eight thousand inhabitants not even 2,000 remained. Over 5,000 people died here, many of them women and children, and their bones, which are under the rubble, and decaying flesh poison the air. scattered human bones, skulls, ribs, even whole human skeletons, heads of girls still adorned with plaits of long hair, bones of children, skeletons still covered with clothes. Here I saw a house whose floor was white with ashes and charred bones of 30 people burned alive. Here was the place where the village chief Trandafil was impaled and burnt, and where he is now buried; I saw a gangway overflowing with decaying corpses; a mill weir filled with bloated bodies; here was a school, in which two hundred women and children, who sought refuge within, were burnt alive; here I also saw the church and the churchyard, where about a thousand half-expired bodies were still to be seen, filling the walled court, and forming a heap several feet high, where among the stones, which had been thrown up in vain to conceal them, were hands visible, legs and heads that poisoned the air with their stench. After my visit, by order of the Mutesarif, the kaymakamin of Pazardzhik was sent to Batak with some lime to facilitate the decomposition of the bodies and prevent the outbreak of epidemics. Ahmed Agha, who commanded the massacre, was decorated and promoted to the rank of Yuzbashi.


We will astound European governments by reminding them of one thing, namely that crimes are crimes. And they are no more allowed to a government than to a murderer, and if Europe stands in solidarity with all that is happening in Europe, then it is done by Europe, because if there is an insane and ferocious government, it should to be treated like a wild animal; for all these things are now happening near us, before our eyes they kill, burn, plunder, exterminate, behead fathers and mothers, sell little girls and boys: and these children, who are too young to be sold, are cut up with two strokes of the saber; moreover, they burn families in their houses, as in this city, Batak, for example, where the population decreased in a few hours from 9 thousand inhabitants to 300; where the cemeteries are filled with corpses, far more than can be buried; so to the living who have done the slaughter, the dead repay with a plague, which is perfectly just; we want European governments to know what is happening there; that pregnant women are cut up to kill their unborn children; that public places are littered with female skeletons as a result of what happened; that dogs are gnawing on the skulls of young raped girls in the streets, that all this is terrible, and one gesture from European governments is enough to stop it; and if the savages who commit these crimes are terrible, then so are the civilized who allow them to do it.

The time has come to raise our voice. Universal indignation rises. There are hours when human consciousness takes the floor and commands governments to listen.

Januarius McGahan also spectacularly describes much of the Turkish atrocities after his visits to Peruštitsa, Batak, Panagyurishte, Klisura and Plovdiv.

Between July 28 and August 25, 1876, McGahan wrote his reports with incredible descriptions of the entire ruined settlement and its surroundings:


Suddenly we pulled at the reins with an exclamation of horror, right before us rose a heap of skulls mixed with bones from all parts of the human body, skeletons almost whole, clothes, human hair and rotten flesh, an infectious smell wafted around.

All the skeletons were wearing only women's shirts, They were all women and girls. I counted over a hundred skulls, not including the bones hidden beneath the other bones of the great pile. All the skulls were separated from the skeletons, all the skeletons were headless. All of these women were beheaded. The procedure was as follows: the Turks caught the woman, stripped her carefully to her shirt, left aside those clothes that were valuable and all ornaments and jewels, after which many of them took care to rape her, and the last one decapitated her.

We were then told that these were the bones of 200 young girls, originally captured and specially reserved for a fate worse than death.

The town lay a hundred yards from us, not a roof or wall surviving. On the other side of the road were the skeletons of children with horrendous saber blows to their tiny skulls. The number of children killed in these massacres is beyond huge. Eyewitnesses told us how they saw small babies impaled on bayonets and carried around the streets of Batak and Panagyurishte.

We approached the church and the school. The ground here is covered in skeletons with rags and pieces of rotting flesh hanging from them. Judging by the remaining projecting walls, the school was a large, fine building, fit for the reception of 200 or 300 children.

Now on the stones and rubbish which cover the floor of the school, several feet high, lie the bones of 200 women and children, burnt alive between these four walls.

The church was not very wide, surrounded by a low stone wall enclosing a small churchyard. At first we didn't notice anything special. The stench was so great that we could hardly look around us.

What appeared to us to be a mass of stones and rubbish below us was in reality a heap of human corpses, covered over with a thin layer of stones and earth, the whole churchyard being covered with them to the height of three to four feet, and a terrible smell coming from from there.

Heads, wrists, legs, feet, and hands could be seen protruding from this monstrous tomb. Little curled heads showed themselves there, a little foot as long as a finger, little baby hands stretched out as if begging for help—babies who had died, startled by the bright gleam of the saber, children who had died amidst screams of fright and terror.

The dogs, which were very numerous and were gnawing at the bones, fled at my coming. Further on, the field was full of skulls and skeletons.

On several occasions, McGahan is on the verge of giving up his investigation and reporting because of the horror he witnesses. He himself says that the places he saw were deeply imprinted on him for the rest of his life.


Red rose

Sources of information:


How to get to Batak City?

Batak is a city in southern Bulgaria. It is located in the Pazardzhik region and is near the town of Peshtera.


View of Batak
View of Batak

The city is the administrative center of Batak Municipality.


View of the Stara Reka valley
View of the Stara Reka valley

Batak is located in the middle of the Western Rhodope Mountains, at an altitude of 1036 meters above sea level in the valley of the Stara Reka river along its two banks.


Batak stands for:

  • 147 kilometers (about 2 hours and 20 minutes by car) from the capital

  • 58 kilometers (about 1 hour and 09 minutes by car) from the city of Plovdiv

  • 416 kilometers (about 5 hours and 03 minutes by car) from the city of Varna

  • 309 kilometers (about 3 hours and 17 minutes by car) from the city of Burgas





How do you get to the historical ossuary church "Sveta Nedelya"?

Historical ossuary church "Sveta Nedelya" in the city of Batak is located on "Antonivanovtsi" street, 113a.




What can be visited nearby?

Just less than 2 kilometers northwest of the town of Batak (less than 4 minutes by car) is the Batak Dam and Tsigov Chark resort area.


Panoramic view of the Batak Dam
Panoramic view of the Batak Dam

Just 24 kilometers southwest of the city of Batak (less than 30 minutes by car) is the Golyam Beglik Dam.


Golyam Beglik Dam
Golyam Beglik Dam

Just 33 kilometers south of the town of Batak (less than 42 minutes by car) is the Shiroka Polyana Dam.


Golyam Beglik Dam
Golyam Beglik Dam

Just 42 kilometers south of the city of Batak (less than 55 minutes by car) is a panoramic site overlooking the Dospat Dam.


Panoramic platform with a view of the "Dospat" dam
Panoramic platform with a view of the "Dospat" dam

Just 48 kilometers south of the city of Batak (less than 1 hour and 2 minutes by car) is the Dospat Dam.


Panoramic platform with a view of the "Dospat" dam
Panoramic platform with a view of the "Dospat" dam

Just 15 kilometers west of the town of Batak (less than 18 minutes by car) is the town of Rakitovo, where you can explore the old clock tower.


The old clock tower with two dials in the town of Rakitovo
The old clock tower with two dials in the town of Rakitovo

Only 8 kilometers north of Rakitovo (about 14 minutes by car) is the village of Dorkovo, where you can see the magnificent church "St. Ilia".


Temple "Saint Prophet Elijah" in the village of Dorkovo
Temple "Saint Prophet Elijah" in the village of Dorkovo

Near Dorkovo there is a unique site, representing a gathering of bones from over 30 species of animals in one place - Pliocene Park.



Near the village are the ancient ruins of the "Tsepina" fortress.


The ancient ruins of the fortress "Tsepina" in the Rhodopes
The ancient ruins of the fortress "Tsepina" in the Rhodopes

Just 27 kilometers west of Batak (about 33 minutes by car) lies the spa capital of the Balkans – Velingrad – blessed and eternal.


The spa capital of the Balkans - Velingrad - blessed and eternal
Welcome to Velingrad!

Velingrad is a wonderfully beautiful Bulgarian city located in the Chepin Valley in the Western Rhodopes. It was formed in 1948 by the merger of the villages of Ladzhene, Kamenitsa and Chepino.

Velingrad is one of the most cloudless cities in Bulgaria.

Velingrad's real wealth is its water resources - rivers, karst and mineral springs - they are plentiful.

The Velingrad geothermal field is the largest in southern Bulgaria. The mineral springs (more than 80 in number), the mild climate and the beautiful nature are the greatest wealth of the city. Velingrad is one of the largest balneological resorts in Bulgaria and it is no coincidence that it is known as the spa capital of the Balkans.



In Velingrad, you can take a leisurely walk through the wonderfully beautiful Pine Park.



You can enjoy a magnificent walk to the panoramic platform "The Rocks" above Velingrad, from where a wonderful view of the entire area is revealed.



The place is full of beauty and tranquility!



The "Rocks" panoramic platform above Velingrad is a special place where you will find solitude with nature.



Just 15 kilometers northeast of the town of Batak (about 25 minutes by car) is the starting point of the trail leading to Snow White Cave.


Snow White Cave
Snow White Cave

Just 15 kilometers north-east of Batak is the town of Peshtera.



Peshtera is another beautiful Bulgarian city with an extremely combative past and I highly recommend a walk here. I will tell you how to get to the panoramic platform above the city, from where a wonderful view of the entire Cave is revealed!


Panoramic view of the city of Peshtera
Panoramic view of the city of Peshtera

In Peshtera you can visit the fortress "Peristera".


Fortress "Peristera" in the town of Peshtera
Fortress "Peristera" in the town of Peshtera

The old sakhat in Peshtera is a place that has preserved a rich history and I heartily advise you to visit it.


Clock tower "Sahata" in the town of Peshtera
Clock tower "Sahata" in the town of Peshtera

Just about 7 kilometers east of Peshtera (about 11 minutes by car) you will find struggling Bratsigovo.


View of Bratsigovo
View of Bratsigovo

During your stay in Bratsigovo, I recommend you to visit the magnificent church "St. John the Forerunner" and the tallest Orthodox bell tower on the Balkan Peninsula, which is located in the church yard.


The bell tower of the Church of Saint John the Forerunner
The bell tower of the Church of Saint John the Forerunner

Near the church, you will find the small square "Sinjirli Well", shaped and built around the well, where on April 21, 1876, Vasil Petleshkov read the Invocation, the bloody letter and announced the uprising.


The well on Sinjirli Bunar Square in the city of Bratsigovo
The well on Sinjirli Bunar Square in the city of Bratsigovo

Erected in 1976 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the great events of the April Epic, the "Apriltsi" Memorial Park in the city of Bratsigovo is a cultural monument of local importance and I invite you to take the time to explore it.


Memorial complex "Apriltsi" in the city of Bratsigovo
Memorial complex "Apriltsi" in the city of Bratsigovo

People's community center "Vasil Petleshkov - 1874" is located in the center of the city.


People's community center "Vasil Petleshkov – 1874" in the city of Bratsigovo
People's community center "Vasil Petleshkov – 1874" in the city of Bratsigovo

In addition to its heroic past, Bratsigovo is also famous for its incredible rose plantations, which smell divine in the month of May.


Bratsigov rose plantations
Bratsigov rose plantations

Between the village of Rozovo and Bratsigovo, you will find a wonderful roadside rest area with an exceptional panoramic view of the city.


View of the city of Bratsigovo
View of the city of Bratsigovo

Just 5 kilometers south of Bratsigovo (about 9 minutes by car) you will find the charming, colorful village of Rozovo, next to which is the Chorbanovo dam.


Beautiful autumn by the "Chorbanovo" dam
Beautiful autumn by the "Chorbanovo" dam

Continuing along the road, you will find the beautiful and peaceful resort of Rozovski vriz.


Resort "Rozovski vriz"
Resort "Rozovski vriz"

Several tourist routes start from Rozovski vriz resort, one of which will take you to Garvanova skala.


Saint Stephen's Chapel and Raven's Rock above Rozovski Vriz resort
Saint Stephen's Chapel and Raven's Rock above Rozovski Vriz resort

Continuing from the village of Rozovo on the road to the village of Ravnogor, which is 16 kilometers south of Bratsigovo (about 27 minutes by car), you will enjoy wonderful views, centuries-old forests and fabulous nature.


Ravnogor village
Ravnogor village

Several picturesque tourist routes start from the village of Ravnogor, one of which is the path to Bekovi skali.


The path to Bekovi skali
The path to Bekovi skali

The Back Rocks route is often combined with the Red Rock trail.


Panoramic view of the Rhodope ocean from the Red Rock
Panoramic view of the Rhodope ocean from the Red Rock

Only 20 kilometers east of Bratsigovo (about 25 minutes by car) is the village of Ustina.

In Ustina, take the Ustina Ecopath to Ustina Waterfall.


View of the village of Ustina from the chapel "St. George"
View of the village of Ustina from the chapel "St. George"

Just 23 kilometers east of Bratsigovo (about 31 minutes by car) you will find charming Peruštitsa.

About 2 kilometers before the town is the Red Church, which I invite you to visit.


The Red Church near Peruštitsa
The Red Church near Peruštitsa

In Peruštitsa you can explore the Renaissance (Danovo) School.


Renaissance (Danovo) School in Perushtitsa
Renaissance (Danovo) School in Perushtitsa

Next to the school building is the church "St. Archangel Michael".


Church "St. Archangel Michael" in Peruštitsa
Church "St. Archangel Michael" in Peruštitsa

On a hill southeast of the city rises a monument to the three generations, to which I recommend you take a walk.


Monument to the three generations above Peruštitsa
Monument to the three generations above Peruštitsa

Only 12 kilometers northeast of Peruštitsa (about 15 minutes by car) is the village of Parvenets and a beautiful artificial waterfall, which I suggest you visit.


The waterfall between Hrabrino and Parvenets
The waterfall between Hrabrino and Parvenets

About 15 kilometers south of the village of Hrabrino (about 24 minutes by car) is the charming Sitovski waterfall.


Sitovski waterfall, Rhodope Mountains
Sitovski waterfall, Rhodope Mountains

About 3 kilometers east of the village of Hrabrino (about 6 minutes by car) is the village of Izvor, from where the path to Momini skali starts, which I advise you to take.


Momini rocks above the village of Hrabrino
Momini rocks above the village of Hrabrino

Only 10 kilometers north of the town of Peruštitsa (about 14 minutes by car) is the town of Stamboliyski, where I highly recommend you to visit the Stamboliyski Eco Park.


Stamboliyski Eco Park
Stamboliyski Eco Park

Only 7 kilometers north of the town of Peshtera (about 10 minutes by car) is the village of Radilovo.

In Radilovo, I recommend you to visit the village museum, which preserves its rich history.


The museum in the village of Radilovo
The museum in the village of Radilovo

People of Radilovo closely guard the memory of Lady Emily Strangford – a symbol of humanity, charity, kindness, generosity and love for Bulgarians. A rich exposition dedicated to the life and work of Lady Emily Strangford is arranged in the museum of Radilovo.


Lady Emily Strangford
Lady Emily Strangford

Only about 14 kilometers north of Radilovo (about 20 minutes by car) is the city of Pazardzhik, where you will find the garden of the world and the eternal flame of peace.


The eternal flame of peace in the gardens of the world in the city of Pazardzhik
The eternal flame of peace in the gardens of the world in the city of Pazardzhik

The Garden of the World and the Eternal Flame of Peace is located next to Svoboda Park-Island in the city of Pazardzhik.


Svoboda Park-island in the city of Pazardzhik
Svoboda Park-island in the city of Pazardzhik

Just 16 kilometers east of the village of Radilovo (about 18 minutes by car) you will find the village of Patalenitsa.

In the village of Patalenitsa, I recommend you to visit the pearl of Patalenica - the buried church "Saint Dimitar".


The buried church "Saint Dimitar" in the village of Patalenitsa
The buried church "Saint Dimitar" in the village of Patalenitsa

Near the village stands the wonderful Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul", where you will find majestic tranquility and beauty.


Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul" near the village of Patalenitsa
Batkun spiritual monastery "St. St. Peter and Paul" near the village of Patalenitsa

In spring, Patalen's phenomenally beautiful lavender fields exude charm and charm against the backdrop of the majestic Rhodopes.


Patalen lavender fields
Patalen lavender fields

И като за финал, мили мои приятели,

не бива да пропускате да разгледате

специалния албум с фото моменти –

открити, изживени, заснети и споделени с вас!



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