Zlatograd is the southernmost town in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Rhodope Mountain – on the boundary between its central and eastern parts. Zlatograd is the southernmost town in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Rhodope Mountain – on the boundary between its central and eastern parts. The town is located in a picturesque valley. From its very centre begins the Varbitsa River, formed by the merger of Golyama River and Malka River. Immediately along it, on the crests of its southern ridges, passes the present-day Bulgarian-Greek frontier.
It is the administrative centre of the Municipality of Zlatograd, which is included in the County of Smolyan.
The municipality covers ten settlements (one town and nine villages): Alamovtsi, Dolen, Erma Reka, Zlatograd, Kushla, Presoka, Startsevo, Strashimir, Fabrika, Tsatsarovtsi.
Zlatograd is a central inter-regional point along the tourist route: Perperikon – Tatul – Benkovski – ZLATOGRAD – Smolyan – Pamporovo – Shiroka Laka.
Climatically, the Zlatograd region belongs to the continental-Mediterranean climatic area. The Varbitsa River with total length of 98.1 km and catchment basin of 1,202.8 km2 runs across the territory of the municipality. Two dams have been built (Zlatograd and Hasidere), which offer opportunities for tourism and sport.
The region is rich in thermal water sources. The most important sources of hot mineral water are along the Erma River. The water’s temperature is between 800 and 1000C and it has good drinking qualities. It can be used for treatment, for industrial and household needs.
The Zlatograd ethnocultural area has been inhabited for millenniums. The town itself has a history of many centuries. The numerous archaeological sites witness its ancient inception and historical development and monuments of culture (pagan sanctuaries, acropolises, tombs, Christian and Muslim places of worship), wrapped in the romantic spell of folklore legends and traditions:
- the biggest sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God (in the Belite Kamani area) near the Village of Startsevo;
- the religious mediaeval centre – monastery fortress “St. Nedelya”
- the sacred “Krastata Gora” zone.
More than a hundred monuments of culture have been preserved in the town to this day. From the National Revival Period, the biggest compact architectural reserve in the Rhodopes has survived and has been restored.
Traditional houses impress the viewer not only with their whiteness (most probably, this was the reason for the mediaeval name of the town – Belovidovo, meaning White Town) and round chimneys but also with the specific combination of its architectural elements.
Worth visiting here is one of the four oldest churches in the Rhodope Mountain – “The Assumption of the Holiest Virgin”, built upon the ruins of an earlier church in 1834 (as legend has it, in 40 days). Attached to it, a small building is erected – for candle-works and monastery school (a museum collection at present).
The church “St. Martyr George the Victor” is a monument of culture built in
1871 – immediately after the Christians of Zlatograd joined the newly created Bulgarian Exarchate.
Only here two museums exist (unique in Bulgaria) highlighting the education in the Middle Rhodopes and postal communications.