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Introducing Melnik

Tiny Melnik is one of Bulgaria's most unique villages due to its traditional architecture, local wine, and location (about 20km north of Greece). Tucked beneath imposing sandstone cliffs. the village has historically been a wine-production centre, and you'll find plenty to sample at restaurants and even at National Revival–era house museums where vintners once lived.

The yellow-white mixture of clay and sand in the backing hills has, over centuries, eroded into bizarre formations resembling pyramids and giant mushrooms. (The village's name probably comes from the Old Slavonic mel, ‘sandy chalk’.)

Melnik has seen Thracian, Roman, Byzantine and early Bulgarian rule. After an Ottoman doldrums, it had a resurgence during the National Revival period. Melnik's once-notable Greek population among its 20,000 inhabitants was forcibly relocated by the Greek army in the 1912–13 Balkan Wars, when the village was largely burned.

Melnik’s good for exploring the southern Pirin Mountains and, though seeing the village requires just one day, you may enjoy lingering on in the sunshine and quietude. Nice places to stay and eat abound.

Melnik is very easy to navigate on foot as it only stretches for 1km. The bus stop is right at the village's entrance (on the road connecting Sandanski and Rozhen); opposite is the municipal building, site of the tourist office. Here begin the two streets that run into town, alongside the dried-up river.