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Keepers of sanctuaries

БНР Новини
Photo: Nikolay Ninov

Their stone faces are colossal. I do not know to what extent they were formed by elemental forces and how much they were influenced by human genius, but they are Снимкаthere, as real as life. They look like artifacts on the photos published in Nikolay Ninov’s book entitled In My Dreams. Intrigued by their magnificent look, we made an attempt to reveal the truth with the author of the photos and our colleague who works as a journalist and a writer, but also does an incredible job as an art photographer.

Déjà vu? Nikolay admits that he had dreamt of some of the magic places mentioned in the book In My Dreams.

“The big problem, yet the happy problem, is that when you go there to see something that was already in your dreams, when you sink into the fairytale, it turns out to be much more amazing than you previously expected. My lenses merely love some spots, because they are so beautiful and unique.”

Unlike the regular tourists who like to perpetuate themselves against the background of given museums, cities, or landscapes and rarely take their eyes off their lenses, Nikolay lets his camera find the mysteries of the scenery by itself.


“When we first visited the Wedding rock complex (situated some 30 kilometers away from Bulgaria’s popular winter resort of Bansko) we saw a huge rock ensemble from the road, which was simply amazing. It was so magnificent that everyone who goes there would cry out Wow! That is great! Look what nature did here! A legend has it that a mother-in-law once cursed her wedding guests and later they turned into stone. Here they are - human monsters placed one next to the other near the main road. Nobody asks the question what is up there? The look is striking enough. You just take you camera, take photos and go. We climbed this place on our third visit when we took a guide from the nearby village with us who knew a small path which leads to this beautiful spot. We climbed up there and were simply stunned by the scenery.  A panoramic view above the mountain and the river spread in front of your eyes. My lenses captured monsters with huge jaws, stone formations that defy gravity. The stone face placed on the book cover can be neither seen from the road, nor when you climb up there. I left the place together with my wife only after we saw everything - furrows, grooves, niches and recesses. I took photos of this rock face, but I was not able to see it when I was there. However, my lenses managed to capture it.”

СнимкаThe rock sanctuaries were known for centuries only to fortune-tellers and healers. The ancient people from the Bessi tribe that once lived on our lands were believed to have such talents.

“People believe that the ancient Bessi were mining gold. There are several hypotheses about the appearance of the trapezium-shaped niches situated in the Eastern Rhodopes. According to one of them, that was a type of a stone language which guided people to the nearby golden deposit. However, this phenomenon has not been fully examined yet. ”

Appetite comes with eating? These fascinating places can be neither puzzled out, nor tamed. The local authorities attempted to make them attractive and accessible to more visitors-some of their efforts turned successful, some did not. Some of the sites were included in the new communication campaign of the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism entitled Fifty Little-Known Tourist Sites. A friend and photographer, who accompanied Nikolay in some of his trips, already published a tour guide with destinations mentioned in the book entitled In My Dreams. An interactive map was launched for those who would use their weekends to travel to unknown places without a GPS system. Bulgaria is very likely to climb the world ranking of most attractive countries for adventure tourism thanks to keepers of sanctuaries like Nikolay who give us the key to real adventures.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: Nikolay Ninov

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