The mysteries of ancient Thracians: Gluhite Kamani sanctuary in Bulgaria

Тази статия може да я прочетете и на: Български

On the highest rock in the area, immersed in the quietness and the views towards Ivaylovgrad reservoir and Sheinovets peak to the left, Maria and I stand with no one around. The place is not that isolated from the other world and actually on our way we met two groups of people returning. As usual, we were going late hoping to witness the sunset – a time that is always magical, beautiful and best for visiting ancient sanctuaries and other mystical places.

Maria at Gluhite Kamani, wathicn in the distance
Maria at Gluhite Kamani, wathing to the distance

The Eastern Rhodopes in Bulgaria are mystery not only to us. They are full of such places, where there are few visitors but a lot to discover. We love travelling to places where we rarely meet people. So, that day we welcomed the sunset at Gluhite Kamani area, somewhere between the towns of Ivaylovgrad and Lyubimets in southern Bulgaria.

The mysterious Deaf Stones (Gkuhite Kamani) rocks with hundreds of niches cut into them
The mysterious Deaf Stones (Gkuhite Kamani) rocks with hundreds of niches cut into them

How to reach Gluhite Kamani (The Deaf Stones)?

We had decided to have dinner in our favourite place in Harmanli, but first to take a walk among nature and fresh air. This plan brought us to the road between Ivaylovgrad and Lyubimets. Somewhere between the curves is the exit to the dirt road, leading to Gluhite Kamani area. We did not stop at the official parking and drove a bit more until we reached a gazebo, where we left the car and continued by foot. It took us another 20-30 minutes to reach Gluhite Kamani.

The area was called Gluhite Kamani (The Deaf Stones) because there was no echo here. I actually did not try to shout and check it myself. But the forest was indeed so quiet and calm that it was almost scary for people used to the city noise.

The rocky area Gluhite Kamani in Bulgaria, seen from the air
The rocky area Gluhite Kamani in Bulgaria, seen from the air

A 30-minute walk

The path separated in two and we took the leftest one, following the hand-written instruction on a sign on the path. This dirt road is certainly accessible by 4×4 cars but we decided to go on foot.

The path to Gluhite Kamani
The path to Gluhite Kamani
The first rock at Gluhite Kamani
The first rock at Gluhite Kamani

Step by step, the silhouette of the rocks starts appearing before us. The first one is one of the most impressive. In January the surrounding trees did not overshadow the view and we were able to see the whole strange-shaped rock through the curtain of bare branches. January is a great time to visit Gluhite Kamani, when the trees are leafless and you are able to see all the stunning niches we will tell you about now.

Gluhite Kamani (The Deaf Stones) and the niches in them
Gluhite Kamani (The Deaf Stones) and the niches in them
A closer look to the niches
A closer look to the niches

We always wonder how to present you the numerous mysterious and curious places in Bulgaria that were left from our ancestors, the Thracians. The anciet Thracian tribes have left to us more questions than answers. Maybe this is why all of these well-preserved places are so attractive to visit and are surrounded by legends. Well, we may not tell you all the legends but we are eager to take you to interesting places with beautiful views and curious man-made artefacts. Some of them were created 2500 years ago or even more. See all of our articles about the Thracian heritage in Bulgaria.

Gluhite Kamani and the remains of two churches, seen from the air
Gluhite Kamani and the remains of two churches, seen from the air

Gluhite Kamani and their January loveliness

There are plenty of legends about this place, which is incredibly beautiful with the hundreds of niches in the rocks. It is supposed that the niches were made in the early Iron Age. And the site was probably and Ancient Thracian shrine. One suggestion is that the niches acted like necropolis and hosted the ashes of noble Thracians.

Walking around the shrine, it is a really interesting place and we spent a lot ot time here - Gluhite Kamani
Walking around the shrine, it is a really interesting place and we spent a lot ot time here
A closer look to the niches
A closer look to the niches
A closer look to the niches
A closer look to the niches

The rock looked like a honeycomb with the numerous of trapezoidal niches. We passed by and started ascending by the small path to discover the other rocks in the area.

More rocks with niches in them
More rocks with niches in them

We passed by the remains of an ancient church and some other buildings. Once there was a fortification wall here, too. We reached the grounds of a 5-6 century church, now covered with nylons and waiting for the new archaeological season. Then we climbed the steep stone steps and reached the water reservoir and the site from where we started our story.

Remains of a church and the rock staircase in the background
Remains of a church and the rock staircase in the background
The rock-hewn staircase leading to a water reservoir
The rock-hewn staircase leading to a water reservoir
In the distance is Ivaylovgrad reservoir
In the distance is Ivaylovgrad reservoir

As I was telling, from here you can see how Gorata (the mountains ridge we are standing on) descends to the Arda river valley. Arda itself flows into the Ivaylovgrad dam. Behind the dam is the Irantepe ridge. To the left is the TV tower on the highest point of Gorata – Sheynovets peak (703,6m).

The Eastern Rhodopes with Sheynovets peak in the distance
The Eastern Rhodopes with Sheynovets peak in the distance

At the Sheynovets peak on 5 October 1912 occured the first battle of the Balkan war. In the area there are also several abandoned bunkers from more recent times.

A small chapel between the rocks at Gluhite Kamani
A small chapel between the rocks at Gluhite Kamani
The view from the entrance of the cave-chapel
The view from the entrance of the cave-chapel

The sun went down and we, as urban people, are not used to stay in the woods in the dark. Moreover, I had read somewhere that in this area you can encounter bears. So we quickly headed to our car and the walk back was actually quicker.

The Deaf Stones in the Rhodope Mountains
The Deaf Stones in the Rhodope Mountains
Here we are, watching the sunset
Here we are, watching the sunset

If you are curious to epxlore the region, you can also visit the Mezek Thracian tomb in the village of Mezek and also the Mezek fortress.

To all winelovers we recommend Enoteca Sakar in the town of Harmanli. Our favourite wineries in the region are Villa Bassarea, Chateau Kolarovo and Bratanov Winery. All of them are located in or around the town of Harmanli.

Instagram Andrey Andreev PhotographyIn our Instagram account we share more photos and thoughts from our trips and daily life, so if you are curious, follow us there, too.

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