Natural landmarks

The maintained reserve “Tamnata Gora” (Dark Forest) (area: 30.2 hectares), which was declared a maintained reserve in 1999. It is situated some 20 km southeast of the village of Kovachevitsa, in the Dabrash part of the Western Rhodopes, at 1500-1700 meters of height above sea level. “Tamnata Gora” is the most valuable protected natural landmark in the area, it preserves a part of the centuries-old mixed forest – spruce, beech and fir. 92 plant species, some of then endemic and protected, have been distinguished within the reserve, as well as 119 species of vertebrates of national, European and world significance. Of special interest among mammals are the roe, the marten, the hazel dormouse, and among birds – the black stork, the golden eagle, the wood grouse. Invertebrates of conservation importance include the Rosalia longicorn and the wood ant.

Rock formations “Koziyat Kamak” (Goat Stone) and “Chernata Skala” (Black Rock) in the village of Kovachevitsa, declared landmarks in 1976. “Koziyat Kamak” is situated in a beautiful area with conifers. It is an imposing weathered granite rock. The multitude of regular holes hewn into the rock, of different sizes, give scientists grounds to believe that the rock was a Thracian sanctuary (an ancient observatory). The route to the rock formations starts from the Beslet tree nursery and has a medium level of difficulty, which allows for unaccompanied climbing.

The Ognyanovo mineral baths in the vicinity of the village of Ognyanovo – a balneological resort of regional significance. There are two groups of springs. Тhe first one (14 springs), known as the “Town Baths” is situated along the valley of the river Kanina, while the second group of 3-4 springs, the so-called “Village Baths”, is situated 1 km northeast of the village of Ognyanovo, from where the name “Ognyanovo mineral baths” is derived. The mineral water from the springs is clear, odourless, pleasant to drink and with a temperature of 35oC to 40oC.
Situated along the canyon of the river Kanina with their clean waters and surrounded by coniferous and acacia woods, the Ognyanovo mineral springs offer a pleasant holiday all year round. There is an extraordinary view from the nearby slopes to the peaks of the majestic Pirin Mountain. The favourable geographic location, the wonderful climate conditions and the healing properties of these mineral springs attract a large number of tourists all year round.

The deep canyon of the river Kanina – an hour and a half walk away from the village of Kovachevitsa is one of the most impressive natural phenomena in the municipality – “Siniyat Vir” (Blue Pool). It is situated in an area of picturesque virgin nature, a thick pine forest and inapproachable rocks overhanging from both sides the gorge of the river Kanina, hewn into the southwest slopes. The place is a cascade of rapids and waterfalls, falling with a roar into a number of deep water-dug pools where the water obtains an emerald blue-green colour.

“Manoilova Dupka” (Manoil Hole) – on the left bank of the river Manoilovski Dol is the longest cave in the Dabrash ridge in the Rhodopes – Manoilovata Dupka. It is one of the most valuable speleological complexes in the country due to its rich cave formations and its significance for the preservation of the world-endangered bat species. Manoilovata Dupka is a Karst cave, with an average annual temperature of 8.7oC and a length of 2 175 m. 10 out of the 32 bat species in the country have been found here and most of them are rare for Bulgaria and Europe, incl. the world-endangered lesser mouse-eared bat, the Barbastelle bat, the Blasius’s horseshoe bat etc. The biological diversity is supplemented by over 10 invertebrate species, including the Stygiosoma Beroni Gulicka – a local endemic specie that can only be seen in this cave.

Venerable plane trees in the village of Garmen , declared venerable in 1968, situated 0.5 km away from the centre of the village of Garmen, near the ancient and Roman town of Nicopolis ad Nestum, in the Zagrade residential district. The Zagrade planes (of the so-called Oriental plane specie) are the two most attractive trees in the area, of a total age of more than 600 years. Six more trees in the municipality have been declared venerable and are of interest – 2 Oriental planes in the village of Garmen and the village of Ognyanovo, 2 elms in the village of Ognyanovo and 2 poplars in the village of Dabnitsa.

Kayaliyski Skali (Kayaliyski Rocks)  – they are situated in the Kayalietso area in the Dabrash ridge of the Western Rhodopes and are protected rock formations, declared natural landmarks in 1984. They are situated at 1 600 meters above sea level, in a centuries-old Scots pine and spruce forest. They occupy an area of 8 hectares and are a unique complex of majestic overhanging rocks and rock wreaths reaching up to 70 meters of height.

The basilica – it is situated 2.5 km southeast of Nicopolis ad Nestum, in the Gramadeto area. The early-Christian three-nave church of Hellenistic type is dated to the 4th century. Rooms of a total length of 24.71 meters have been exposed and the floors are covered with mosaics of geometrical, plant and animal ornaments.

Cultural and historical tourism

Prehistoric settlement and Thracian sanctuary in the village of Dolno Dryanovo – the site is situated in the Gradishteto area, 2.5 km northeast of the centre of the village of Dolno Dryanovo. The rock complex combines the newly-discovered Chalcolithic settlement (5th millennium B.C.) and a sanctuary of the late Iron Age (6th – 2nd centuries B.C.). It combines a relatively rare natural phenomenon with a Thracian cult centre and has been given a preliminary status of a cultural monument of national significance. The natural phenomenon represents 3 large human heads of stone, known in science as mimetoliths, and rock figures that resemble a duck, an eagle, a turtle, a snake, a wolf and other animals. The ancient Thracians turned this place into a sanctuary by hewing different circles into the rocks as well as large human steps and a throne for cult purposes, and they used a so-called “promushvachka” (a pass-through passage) or “purgatory” (dolmen). A significant cultural layer of the Chalcolith has also been registered in the area, and the clay vessel, approximately 7 000 years old deserves special attention.

Cultural and historical reserve “Kovachevitsa” in the village of Kovachevitsa – it is situated 15 km northeast of the village of Garmen. The picturesque village is situated at 1000 – 1100 meters above sea level in the Rhodopean ridge Dabrash. It was founded in the middle of the 15th century by Bulgarian emigrants. In the second half of the 18th century Bulgarian master masons from Kostursko settled here, laying the foundations of a well-developed masonry centre. Due to the steepness of the terrain, the architecture is characterized by compact buildings and uniquely situated houses. The numerous cobbled dead-end streets, the complex crossroads and passages create a unique atmosphere. The present-day houses are still covered with traditional stone slabs (tiles), dominated by an original stone chimney.

The Shumareva, Gyuzleva and Sarafova house, the Koyuvi houses and other houses are unique with their architectural and artistic properties. Six houses are declared cultural monuments of national significance: the Daskalova, Shungureva, Dishlyanova, the Shimerovi, the Bangova and the Pilareva houses. Nowadays 112 houses carrying the spirit of the typical Kovachevitsa architecture are preserved in the village and many of them have been restored. This is one of the 9 villages of entirely preserved Renaissance architecture in Bulgaria, declared a historical and architectural reserve in 1977.

Village of Leshten – 15 old Rhodopean houses have been restored and offer to visitors an abundance of opportunities for an active holiday – a combination between a holiday in nature and the coziness of the Bulgarian tradition. The houses are furnished in the Leshten style, but are equipped with all modern conveniences such as telephone, a television set, a kitchenette and modern bathrooms. The holiday village also offers visitors a tavern (housed in the old monastery school) which offers delicious Bulgarian dishes with a large part of the products coming from the personal farm of the hosts. The possibilities for tourism are hunting, fishing, riding, trips in the mountain with a jeep or with horse cart, picking herbs and mushrooms, a visit to the mineral springs in the village of Ognyanovo, a walk to the village of Kovachevitsa etc.

Museum collection – the museum collection in the village of Skrebatno is one of a kind in Garmen municipality and also next in significance in the area after the museum in Gotse Delchev. It was gathered by an initiative committee with the help of the whole population of the village. It is housed in a unique building that is more than 300 years old and is built over a ravine, in an old Bulgarian architectural style. During the period of Turkish rule it was a konak (an administrative centre), after which it was transformed into a monastery school and later – into a secular school.
The museum collection consists of two parts:
-Ethnographic part – household items, specific national costumes of the two ethnic groups (Christians and Muslims), most of them of great ethnographic value (all exhibits have been donated by the local people)

-Historical part – in three rooms different exhibits that follow the participation of the local population in historical events of importance for Bulgaria are revealed. The exhibition presents the Haidouk movement – the preserved Arnaut swords, knives and shotguns, many documents and photographs from the National Liberation Movement, the participation of the local population in the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising. The struggle for an independent Bulgarian church is covered as well (by photographs and documents).

Spiritual temples and cultural monuments

“The Annunciation” as well as the four figures of the church fathers below are painted with great precision. Older icons have also been preserved in the church – “John the Precursor” (1736), “The Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus” (18th century), “Christ in the Bishop’s Throne” (18th century), “The Virgin Mary” and “The Deesis” (1807) painted by the icon painter Dimitar Koyuv from Tryavna.

St. Nicholas’ church in the village of Kovachevitsa – it was built in 1848 and is an architectural-constructional and artistic monument of culture of national significance. It is a three-nave pseudobasilica with a large semicircular apse in the east and an external loft in the west. In 1893 a four-floor belfry and a monastery school were built northwest of it and surrounded (together with the church) by a stone wall, thus forming an original architectural ensemble. The image of the All-powerful Christ (1848) is located in the attic and icons of prophets are mounted over the pillars. The interior of the church was formed by different artists through the years. There are no murals, but there are decorative motifs (carving and painting) on the iconostasis, the ceilings, the arcades, the pulpit and the bishop’s throne. The Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary from

“The Annunciation” as well as the four figures of the church fathers below are painted with great precision. Older icons have also been preserved in the church – “John the Precursor” (1736), “The Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus” (18th century), “Christ in the Bishop’s Throne” (18th century), “The Virgin Mary” and “The Deesis” (1807) painted by the icon painter Dimitar Koyuv from Tryavna.

St. George’s church in the village of Garmen – it was built in 1898 in the location of an older church and is an artistic monument of culture of national significance. It is a three-nave pseudobasilica with a belfry and the arcade of the central nave is decorated with murals (medallions). The iconostasis is large, with a marble imitation.

Assumption church in the village of Ognyanovo – it was built in 1835 and is an artistic monument of culture of local significance. It is a three-nave pseudobasilica, half-dug into the ground, with a belfry attached to its western part. The church is built of river stones. The iconostasis is of the panel type, with a painted vine. The socle panels show scenes from the Shestodnev (Six Days) and the northern wall and the colonnade are covered with murals. The icons in the Sovereign tier and the Apostle tier date from 1863.

St. Parashkeva’s church in the village of Leshten – it was built in 1837. The decorative paintings on the iconostasis and the icons have artistic value. The church has been declared a cultural monument of local significance.

St. Dimitar’s church in the village of Osikovo – it was built in 1846 and is an artistic monument of culture of local significance. It is a semicircular three-nave pseudobasilica with an open wood narthex on the west, while the eastern apse is semicircular. The northern and southern facades have arched cornices that follow the inclination of the terrain. The belfry, built later, in 1894, is made of stone and is 7 meters high, with 2 bells. The interior is divided into 5 pairs of pillars connected by an arcade. The iconostasis is of the panel type, it consists of a cross at the top (venchilka), an Apostle tier, a vine, top panels over the icons, a Feast tier, a second vine, top panels, a Sovereign tier and socle panels. The icons date from the middle of the 19th century and are minutely painted with miniature details. The socle panels are painted with the scenes from the Shetodnev. The Royal Doors are masterfully carved with openwork plant ornaments and medallions. The ceilings and the vine are appliqued with red flower motifs. In the centre is the image of the All-powerful Christ as a young man. The bishop’s throne is decorated with primitively cut lions, and the pulpit – with a sculpted pidgeon.

St. Dimitar’s church in the village of Baldevo – it was built in 1882 in the location of an older church and is an artistic monument of culture. It is a three-nave pseudobasilica with a loft on the south and a later-built belfry. The painted iconostasis is decorated with scenes of the Shestodnev, the icons (1884) are painted by a primitivist icon painter.

St. Paraskeva’s church in the village of Skrebatno – built in 1835, an artistic monument of culture. It is a three-nave pseudobasilica with a belfry built in the 1970-s. The colonnade is decorated with murals and the church was painted by an original painter.

Mosque in the village of Dolno Dryanovo – it is an attractive architectural ensemble of two neighbouring mosques – an old unrestored mosque that is over 500 years old and a new mosque, built in 1998. The new mosque is one of the biggest in the area.