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The Pyramids of Stob – Bulgaria

The Pyramids of Stob

Bulgaria

Pyramids of Stob
Pyramids of Stob
in Bulgaria is less than 400 kilometers away. Whichever way you take, soon the eye meets beautiful views of mountains, sea, Thracian ruins, caves and peaks. The connoisseurs know that this small territory of 111 000 square kilometers has sheltered different landmarks, among geological forms hardly known in other parts of Europe. One of these landmarks is the stone pyramid near the village of Stob in the western foot of the southwestern ridge of the Rilla Mountain.

The pyramids are most easily accessible by car, especially if you set off from the capital city of Sofia. After leaving the capital, take the road to Blagoevgrad. When you near Kocherinovo, you know you are close. Turn right, then left. After a kilometer, you are in a relatively big, typical Bulgarian village, white hot by the heat. The wide-open windows of the houses seem as though they are panting in the swelter. The streets are dead in the afternoon sultriness, and the only living being that appears from time to time is a lone donkey, lazily swaying its ears in the almost liquid air. Only the cool murmur of the river tears the heavy mantle of the haze

If you know no one, ask for directions at the local cafeteria. You can see the pyramids from the village, which are about 45 minutes away. They appear stuck in the rocks of the Rilla Mountain and are crowned with a small church by the name of St. Panteley. There are two ways – a green forest path and a wide cart-road. You must be tough because the pyramids can be reached only by a narrow track that climbs up winding from hill to hill. Each hill will seem steeper than the previous.

Just as you are about to give up and the thick shades of the trees around are tempting you to rest; you’ll stop, amazed at the view before you. Over the entire dell on the right, surrounded by lush greenery, the first group of pyramids spills down. As if a rough sea has petrified, you’ll see huge “waves” and giddy precipices that seem as though they had raced down but stopped forever in their rush. From another point the pyramids look like the walls of a fortress, towers or battlements sculpted in the crumbling sandstone by the wind and water. Jagged and gnawed away by the time, often connected to each other, they form a genuine labyrinth. At the foot of some of them, small trees have grown which calm the eye from the red colour of the chimneys. Some of the pyramids are sharp, needle-shaped; others are cone-shaped with a stone on top making them look like mushrooms.

Pyramids
More Pyramids
On the southern side of the watershed dividing the dry valleys of Gruchkovetz (to the north) and Bukovetz (to the south), the picturesque forms have been given different names by the people – Kulite, Samodivski komini, Zuberite, Chukite. The first group of pyramids is the smallest, but the most distinct and dense. You look up, the very peak enticing you, only to find yourself, after a hundred meters, facing another dell which merrily leads the eye to its necklace of red rocks, as if pulling away with utmost powers to break free from its form. The tallest pyramids, as high as 18 meters, as if still trying to free themselves from the rock behind, are leaning their jagged surface forward. You can make out the gigantic stalagmites and stalactites merged into one. The distinct layers have topped one another so today; the chimneys look like ice cream melting down the wafer cornet. A doctor would liken them to ribbing. This would not be wrong since the legend states their origin as the petrified figures of matchmakers, the best man and the bride.

In olden times the tradition was that the young would marry without knowing their would-be spouse. Only after the wedding would the groom see his bride. The matchmakers from the mountain village of Kolibite brought a maiden from the village of Stob. On their way, when passing by the southern rib of Kulski Rid, a gust of mountain wind blew open the heavy veil of the bride and revealed her face. Her unseen beauty amazed the matchmakers; the best man could not resist the temptation and kissed her on the lips. Horrified by this sin, the whole procession got petrified and has stayed like this.

The red ribbing and the legend only add to the impression that you stay in front of the wide-open gates of Hell. A very narrow stretch of loose scree swerves left and up towards the very ridge. The place is dangerous – suddenly you stand on a bridging piece of land, at both sides of which spirals dizzy abyss some tens of meters to the bottom. If you do not easily get dizzy, you can carefully go across and climb to the top. It is relatively wide and the ridgeway is safe and clearly seen. Some hundred meters follow and you gasp of amazement, your breath taken away. You have reached the end of the road; the third group of pyramids is beyond.

Pyramids
Pyramids
They look like the first group, but are colossal in size and take up a huge space. From the height of the ridge, these unique natural sculptures seem to form a whole medieval city, surrounded by walls, battlements, towers and gigantic gates. The path ends on top of a rock; at the other three sides gapes the abyss. Even if you climb Mussala, the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula – a path goes down the other side. Here you can not go forward. You feel like the Spanish conquistadors, who reached the Grand Canyon in the U.S.A thinking they were standing at the end of the World. The hills around are covered in vegetation and hem in the valleys, where the red chimneys nestle into the Martian landscape.

The hours go by in overawed admiration and respect before the creation of nature. The way back awaits and you reluctantly turn your eyes away from the stunning view because you have the inevitable feeling you are part of a fairytale. Having reached the end of the road, you are no longer afraid to step on the bridge and cross it, neither are you afraid to stand on the edge above the second group of pyramids. The canyons, dashing down, look extremely impressive viewed from above. Their bottom is strewed with small streams of white pebbles, grass and shrubs sprouting. You pick a pebble as a memento and head for the village, keeping in your memories the view of this incredible natural phenomenon called the pyramids of Stob.

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