The Devil’s bridge, Ardino, Bulgaria

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The Devil’s bridge is an old ottoman bridge in Bulgaria which connected Thrace with Aegean Sea. It was built by a Bulgarian builder named Dimitar between 1515 and 1518 in order of sultan Selim I. The Bulgarian name of this bridge is “Дяволски мост” (Diavolski most – Devil’s bridge) and the Turkish name is Şeytan Köprüsü. Now this bridge isn’t close to any main roads and it is only a memory for old great times.

The Devil’s Bridge is located near the town of Ardino and the village of Dyadovtsi in the Rhodope mountains, southeastern Bulgaria. See the precise location.

The Devil's Bridge in Bulgaria, Rhodope mountains - old Ottoman bridge
The Devil’s Bridge in Bulgaria, Rhodope mountains

The Abandoned houses of Dyadovtsi village

Like most of the old things in Bulgaria, this Devil’s bridge has its own folk tales too.  One of them is about the builder Dimitar and his meeting with the Devil. In XVI century the Arda River was deep, wildly running and rough, so there weren’t many places where you could build a bridge. One of those few places was a gorge near today’s town of Ardino and Dyadovtsi village. The town and the village didn’t exist in those times and today the village is abandoned. So it appears that the bridge survived longer than a village. It is good for a bridge, isn’t it?

Abandoned village Dyadovtsi
Abandoned part of village Dyadovtsi

The legend of the Devil’s bridge

Now let’s go back to the XVI century and our builder Dimitar. Until then all bridges built on that place had been destroyed by the rough Arda River and most of the people believed that this place had been cursed. But despite the curse Dimitar decided to try to make another bridge.

Thereupon the Devil appeared to our hero and offered him to reveal the secret for building the bridge. But the Devil had some requirements (the things with small letters in the contract): to inwall the shadow of his wife (that means that the wife will die soon after building the bridge, it is common story in Bulgarian legends), to build it in 40 days, and some other easy tasks like these. Anyway the most interesting requirement for us was that the Devil wanted his own image to be integrated in the bridge. But it was very complicated. He wanted to be both visible and invisible, both touchable and non-existing. If the builder could not do it, the Devil would take his soul as well. About the wife – she was a victim in any case, her soul was already taken.

But Dimitar was able to surprise even the Devil. He was ready in 40 days, the Satan had its requirements fulfilled and left with only one soul – the wife’s one. But his face was staying forever above Arda River thanks to Dimitar the builder.

The Devil's Bridge on Arda river in Bulgaria
The Devil’s Bridge on Arda river in Bulgaria

How to see the Devil?

So the question is: how to see the Devil? Well, you have to go there just before noon, in a sunny day. You will see a beautiful ottoman bridge and its reflection in the water. Then you have to tilt your head and use some imagination and you will see the Devil’s horns, eyes and his whole face.

The head of the Devil on the Devil's bridge
The head of the Devil on the Devil’s bridge

How to reach the Devil’s Bridge?

From the town of Ardino there are brown signs pointing to the bridge. During our last visit many years ago, the asphalt road was ending some 5 km from the bridge but they recently built a new one, leading close to the Devil’s bridge. As I have not been there for years, I would trust the navigation. There is another route, from the village of Dyadovsi, but it is only pedestrian.

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