Pearl in the crown of the smallest Bulgarian city
Melnik is a nice town nestled at the foot of South Pirin. Known as the smallest city in Bulgaria, it impresses with its rich architectural heritage, but mostly with its exotic atmosphere and incredible natural beauty. With its favorable location, the Melnik region has attracted settlers since ancient times. Although not considered such a popular tourist destination (which is a big mistake), every nature lover deserves to visit this town at least once in his life, at least to enjoy the majestic pyramids, which the invisible hand of Mother Nature has sculpted for centuries.
The Pyramids of Melnik - A Natural Landmark of 1960
The Melnik Pyramids are amazing sand and rock formations covering an area of nearly 50 square kilometers. Located in the vicinity of Melnik and strongly reminiscent of The Stob pyramids on the western slopes of the Rila Mountains, except that they are superior in size. From a bird's eye view, the Melnik Pyramids can resemble imposing titans, wrapped in a gentle embrace in the immediate vicinity of the populated areas: the villages of Rozhen, Sugarevo, Zlatolist. Karlanovo, Gorna Sushitsa and, of course, the town of Melnik.
The Melnik pyramids are located in the southwestern foothills of the Pirin Mountains, about 180 km south of Sofia. They are formed from 40 to 120 meters thick, old Quaternary, reddish and light brown overlays and occupy an area of 17 sq. Km. The altitude varies (depending on the location) between 350 and 850 meters. Since December 1960, the Melnik pyramids have enjoyed the status of a natural landmark, and since November 1993 they have been declared a protected natural site of international importance.
It is curious that this same area has long been famous for the picturesque forms that the relief has acquired, as a result of the accumulation of loose, gray-white sands and clay layers. In certain places the sand-rock blocks reach impressive sizes. On the peaks, the Mediterranean climate has created a favorable environment for the growth of various species of deciduous trees, grasses and shrubs. The sandy slopes are another remarkable feature of the Melnik pyramids. In some places they become completely vertical. The mesmerizing view, revealed from the high parts, allows at a glance to cover the entire Rozhen saddle. The pyramids near the village of Rozhen can be reached by an eco trail that connects Melnik with the Rozhen Monastery. The name of the village, respectively of the monastery, actually derives its origin from these formations. "Rozhen" from the Slavic language means "blade", "peak", "pyramid". If you're talking to an older local, you may hear him use the word "chalk" when naming the pyramids. They are called Melnik chalks because they look like chalks from afar. In all probability, the name of the town of Melnik comes from there. According to popular belief, passers-by are afraid to look at the pyramids at night because they look sinister, and during the day they cannot take their eyes off them, captivated by their majesty.
Formation of the Melnik Pyramids
According to experts, the formation of the Melnik Pyramids is a long process in time, with different geological and climatic factors involved. The sedimentary rocks, erosion from water, winds, heat and cold play a more significant role. In parallel, landslides have an impact. When the terrain breaks, large pieces break off the ridges and reach the river beds.
The basis of the formation is the weak solder between the mineral-dispersed particles contained in the sedimentary deposits. This facilitates the destruction of the rocks, and the erosion of the soil there creates the conditions for the formation of terrestrial pyramid formations.
The diverse forms that prevail in the Melnik Pyramids create a unique color. Some rock blocks have the shape of a sponge, others of swords and some of umbrellas. People with richer imaginations can make dozens of interesting associations.
When the pyramid begins to become very thin at the top, the fortification of the stone block weakens. Then it enters the so-called. "Maturity stage". In the area south of Rozhen you can come across many "mature" pyramids. Gradually, the crown becomes too heavy for the thinning neck; the sand is hard to contain and at some point it slopes and falls into the abyss.
There is one very curious moment in the Pyramid of Melnik. It can easily be called a phenomenon. New pyramids growing at the foot! They are still young and far from impressive, but over time they are expected to become more magnificent in size, which will further enhance the charm and uniqueness of this natural wonder. You can see these baby pyramids on the way from Melnik to the village of Rozhen.
The area in which the Melnik Pyramids are located makes a great contribution to biodiversity, which makes it extremely valuable and therefore must be protected by humans. The rich diversity of flora and fauna is truly impressive. The favorable conditions maintained by the Mediterranean climate have helped to grow lush pastures, meadows and shrubs. Today, they are a permanent habitat for over 30 bird species. Don't rely on vacation rentals. However, the site is a protected natural site with the idea that these natural resources will be preserved for as long as possible.
When you go for a walk in search of picturesque views and explore the Melnik pyramids, do not leave garbage behind. Respect nature! Keep it clean! It is the truest and most valuable thing we have!