What a title, right?!
The final stop on our whirlwind weekend in southeastern Bulgaria the weekend before last was a visit to the small village of Rupite and the area around the extinct Kozhuh Volcano.
To get to Rupite, we drove through the city of Petrich. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop and I regret it now. It looks like an interesting town and I hope we can make it back some day.
Rupite is known as the home and burial place of the Bulgarian mystic/healer, Baba Vanga, as well as the site of the Kozhuh Volcano and a series of thermal springs.
After a quick drive through Rupite village to ask for directions, we made our way to the thermal springs and nearby baths. The smell of sulfur and steam rising from the springs was a little intense. The average water temperature is about 78 C (172 F); how someone could lay in near-boiling water is beyond me!
Right next to the springs is the Baba Vanga Monastery Complex. Vanga had a very colorful life. She was born prematurely in present day Macedonia in 1911, “healed” her friends with local herbs, was sucked up into a twister and blinded, hobnobbed with Communist party leaders, foretold Chernobyl and other events, and even predicted the date of her own death and burial.
I don’t know what to believe when it comes to all that, but the woman was fascinating and her monastery continues to attract people from all over the world.
The murals on the church, painted by artist Svetlin Rusev, did not go over very well with the conservative Bulgarian Orthodox church and I can see why. There are probably the most unique (and slightly frightening) church icons I have seen in Bulgaria.
This little detour on our drive home from Melnik didn’t take too long and was definitely worth it. Rupite is a really interesting part of Bulgaria and should be on your list of must-sees if you are in the area.