Podcast in English
Text size
Bulgarian National Radio © 2024 All Rights Reserved

Batak is more than just a town of beauty and tragic history in the Rhodope Mountains

Shiroka Polyana Dam
Photo: visitbatak.bg

For us Bulgarians, Batak is a sacred place. It still echoes the tragic events of the April Uprising of 1876, when most of its innocent inhabitants were massacred by the Ottoman oppressors. Various sources estimate the number of victims at between 1,400 and 5,000. The massacre had profound repercussions in Europe and around the world, awakening the conscience of prominent public figures. Garibaldi, Victor Hugo, Darwin, Januarius MacGahan and many others strongly condemned the atrocities, bringing international attention to Batak for the first time.

If you walk along the Memorial Walk in the city centre, you will see monuments dedicated to the advocates for Bulgaria. 

The monument to Victor Hugo in Batak

The names of some of the victims of the massacre are inscribed on a special wall in the History Museum. In the old St. Nedelya Church, where thousands of women and children were killed, there is an ossuary of the deceased, and its walls still bear the bullet marks left by the aggressors.

Aside from the tragic events of the past, Batak has much to offer. You will be fascinated by the magnificent nature of the Rhodope Mountains. "We have several dams, a wealth of forests, flora and fauna. And according to a NASA study, the air here is the cleanest on the planet," Teodora Peychinova, director of the town's History Museum, told Radio Bulgaria.

"Batak offers cultural tourism as well as cycling, photography and hunting tourism. We have mountain trails for enduro (downhill motorcycling) and off-road routes. Our campsites are equipped with caravan sites, electricity, internet and all the necessary facilities, which makes them very popular with foreign tourists. The area also offers excellent fishing. I can confidently say that in Batak we are developing year-round tourism. Our many guesthouses, hotels and restaurants on the banks of the dams are always open to visitors.

The mountain town has seen a significant increase in tourism over the past two years. "We had a low tide during the Covid-19 pandemic, but last summer the number of tourists reached the pre-pandemic level of the record year 2019, and now we are even seeing an increase compared to that," says Teodora Peychinova. 

The Rhodopes not only offer pristine nature, but also delightful local culinary experiences. In Batak, guests can enjoy traditional dishes such as:

"One of the things we present to our guests is the unique Batashki flongi with what we call zonnitsi or brustnitsi jam - explains Teodora Peychinova. - It's a very interesting dish - a pastry, similar to doughnuts, served with wild strawberry or blueberry jam. 

Баташки фльонги
Other regional dishes include zelnik (a cabbage pie) and pishtel s kapachki (pork trotters with beans). Additionally, Batashki sudzhuk, a traditional local dried sausage, is a popular dish, though it is usually served in winter. We also host the Batashki Sudzhuk Festival in mid-January, which attracts many tourists.

Batak has a rich cultural calendar that attracts visitors to the town and the region. A number of lush trails around Batak entice tourists to explore the secrets of the Rhodope Mountains.

One of these trails leads to the impressive Fotinski Waterfalls. The three water cascades can be reached after a 20-minute walk along the Fotinska River from the village of Fotinovo. There are also five beautiful Roman bridges in the area, as noted by Teodora.

Photos: Batak Municipality, BGNES, visitbatak.bg, Batak History Museum
Translated and posted by Elizabeth Radkova

Последвайте ни и в Google News Showcase, за да научите най-важното от деня!
Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

Mt. Botev

BALKAN RUN 2024 starts on Sunday

The BALKAN RUN 2024 to Mt. Botev and back will take place on Sunday, 21 July 2024 , along a 41-kilometre route with the start/finish in the town of Karlovo.  The route has a cumulative elevation gain of D+3280m in the heart of the Central..

published on 7/17/24 2:52 PM

Top 7 of the most beautiful and mysterious caves in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is dotted with over 5,000 caves, each one having its own history, captivating beauty and mysteries. Some of these true underground treasures welcome tourists. Here are some of the most mysterious and mesmerizing caves to visit during the..

published on 7/17/24 11:12 AM

Sofia reports new growth of foreign tourists since the beginning of the year

Tourist arrivals in Sofia are up 12% compared to the same period in 2023 , the Ministry of Tourism said. The Sofia Municipality informed that the registered overnight stays for the half-year were just over 1.3 million, a 10% increase compared to the..

published on 7/16/24 12:21 PM