Bulgaria’s second largest monastery, Бачковски манастир (Bachkovo Monastery), is just a short bus ride from Plovdiv. Despite possibly being a future UNESCO World Heritage Site, I didn’t find the monastery itself particularly interesting. Most of the monastery is closed to visitors (or least it was on our visit) and photography is not permitted within the monastery itself. But the monastery is still well worth visiting. Located at the foot of the forested slopes of the beginning of the Rhodopes, the setting is both serene and inspiring.
This is the Ossuary. The monastery was founded in the 11th century, and it's the lone building from the original monastery which survives. It is not open to the public because it's frescoes are too delicate to allow visitors.
Heading out from the monastery, it doesn't take long to begin enjoying the Rhodope Mountains.
Trails starting from the monastery head into the woods, along a stream, and past several waterfalls. By visiting during the week, we were able to enjoy our walk in near solitude.
The trails also make their way to three small chapels collectively referred to as Ayazmoto. The chapels are hidden in the woods and tucked away in the nearby hills.