Photo Series: The Sand Pyramids of Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik Pyramids

It’s kind of hard to believe that a place like Melnik, a town in southern Bulgaria, exists. It’s not because it is officially the smallest town in the country with just under 400 residents. It’s not because it is home to a huge collection of preserved Ottoman houses, protected as cultural monuments. Nor is it for the region’s niche and burgeoning wineries that produce highly sweet and fruity wines. Finally, it’s not for the remarkable geological formations that run throughout the region, creatively known as Sand Pyramids. No, it’s because all of this can be found in a tiny town that most have never heard of.

Tucked away in the lower reaches of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria’s south, Melnik lies simply waiting for tourists to discover it. While it is officially distinguished as a town, it really is a village in both size and atmosphere. Historically known as a wine-making region as far back as 1346, the town was vastly larger. A vicious fire and the removal of Greek residents in the early 20th century resulted in the town’s decline. Today it is a humble town whose winemaking industry is starting to rebuild and whose architecture and geography are beginning to draw some tourists.

Melnik Streets

Melnik Quiet House

Melnik Vine

Melnik Winery

 

A single main road runs up through the town, passing between the charmingly quaint Ottoman houses that line it. The road is divided by a dry and sandy river bed that must have flown once but seems dead today. Further down the valley is a still-running creek that flows, with some exceptionally old bridges crossing it. Off the town’s main road are some small cobbled lanes that branch off up the valley sides. The town appears to still be in a state of repair, with some houses falling apart and others under repair. You really do feel like you’re in a rural village in the countryside away from the world.

Melnik River

Old Bridge Melnik

Melnik Street

Melnik Cobblestones

Melnik Balcony

Melnik House

 

If you continue to walk up through town you reach a path leading to a small hill where several ruins lie. The first of which is that of a stone church, lying beneath the well-preserved Kordopulou House. As you work your way up the hillside, you start to get some nice views over the other houses. Further up the hill you are also granted better views of the Sand Pyramids that surround the town. I’ll explain them a little further on, but for now know that they’re some pretty awesome and unusual geological features. The best spot on the hill though is directly above the stone ruins of an old fortress, where you are able to see most of town and how it sits within the valley. It’s also a fantastic place to watch the sun set.

Kordopulov House Melnik

Melnik Outer Limits

Melnik Hill

Melnik Ridge

Melnik View

Melnik Rooftops

 

To me, the real highlight of visiting Melnik is the Sand Pyramids. Throughout the wider area around the town are these fascinating sandstone formations. Essentially they are jagged or rippled sandstone hills and cliffs that break free of the forest canopy and often look quite similar to the actual pyramids. Because Melnik is situated almost in the Pirin Mountains, the terrain is quite hilly and so you find plenty of these pyramids in all shapes and sizes. In my opinion, the best way to see them is to leave town and explore some of its immediate surrounds.

Sandstone Cliff Melnik

Melnik Trail

Melnik Nature

Sand Cliffs Melnik

Melnik Valley

Melnik River

Melnik Ridge

Melnik Hills

 

The best place to appreciate the sand pyramids, particularly up close, is the from the ridge line towards Rozhen Monastery. From here you can look out over the entire region and you can see the pale white peaks of the pyramids emerging from the forest canopy. Also, because you’re standing on one of pyramids you’re able to see the details of the rock formations and how truly jagged they are. In the opposite direction to Melnik, you’re able to look off into the Pirin Mountains proper.

Melnik Landscape

Melnik Pyramid

Melnik Spur

Melnik Rock

Melnik Sand Pyramids

Melnik Rocks

Melnik Distant

 

So there you have it. The town of Melnik in Southern Bulgaria and its unique landscapes that are bound to fascinate you. To read about my hike through the sand pyramids of Melnik to Rozhen Monastery, have a look here.

Melnik Sunset

 


Have you visited a place with a truly unique and remarkable landscape? Did this article make somewhere spring to mind? Please share in the comments below.

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Photo Series: The Sand Pyramids of Melnik, Bulgaria via @travelsewhere

This post is part of Weekend Travel Inspiration at Albom Adventures, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner and The Weekly Postcard over at Two Traveling Texans. Please head on over for more great posts.

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27 Comment

  1. Allison says:

    Your pictures are lovely. It’s incredible that you can find all of that in one tiny town. #weekendwanderlust

    1. David says:

      Thanks Allison, really is quite incredible.

  2. Upeksha says:

    So fascinating. They remind me of the Vercor mountains in France, but even more interesting. Thanks for sharing. #wkendtravelinspiration

    1. David says:

      Thanks for mentioning the Vercor mountains, I googled them and they do look a little similar.

  3. Lolo says:

    Love it!!!!! 🙂 #WeekendWanderlust

    1. David says:

      Thanks Lolo!

  4. Wow how interesting and how impressive! Quite incredible and unique landscape. Thanks for sharing!

    1. David says:

      Thanks for reading Juliette. Definitely a unique place.

  5. Anisa says:

    How do you find these places? You keep sharing such interesting places that I have never heard of. I agree with you, that the sand pyramids are definitely worth seeing. Maybe one of these days! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. David says:

      Haha, actually can’t remember how I find out about Melnik Anisa. I do like finding unusual places though. Thanks for reading!

  6. Ruth says:

    Well, this is a cool, little place! I would go just to take a look at the sand pyramids (I really like rock and sand formations). The fact that there are other nice things in town sound like an added bonus.

    1. David says:

      It definitely is Ruth! The sand pyramids are really fascinating but its nice there is even more to see in town.

  7. Anna says:

    Melnik looks amazing! Ottoman houses, local wines and Sand Pyramids – all in one small city! It really looks like a little village, but I guess, I could spend days there, exploring all the natural wonders and enjoying the slower pace of life!

    1. David says:

      It really has a lot to offer. I easily spent two days exploring the town and the surrounds. Thanks for reading Anna.

  8. So glad to come across this! I have been thinking of planning a trip to Eastern Europe and exploring as much as possible. Need to add this on my list!

    1. David says:

      Hope you find my posts from my adventures all through Eastern Europe useful.

  9. Melnik is a beautiful little town. Only 400 residents? Wow, that is tiny. Your photos really show it off beautifully! #wkendtravelinspiration

    1. David says:

      Yep it’s that small! But such a beautiful little place. Thanks for reading.

  10. Laura says:

    This is such an incredible landscape! Who knew such a thing existed! Thanks for sharing #theweeklypostcard

    1. David says:

      It isn’t it Laura! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. The erosion that formed the sand pyramids reminds me of the mud houses and structures in Morocco that have eroded from the rain. This are of Bulgaria looks great for hiking and exploring and the fact that tourists have not found it is an added bonus.

    1. David says:

      Oh, whereabouts in Morocco does it remind you of? Bulgaria has plenty of great hiking spots and the country really is neglected by tourists

  12. Your photos are lovely…how noteworthy! Very mind blowing and interesting scene. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing!

    1. David says:

      Thank you very much, glad you enjoyed the photos!

  13. What a lovely place and incredible landscape!

  14. eileen g says:

    what really interesting terrain, very meditteranean. And the countryside looks pretty, too. interesting contrast! #wkendtravelinspiration

  15. Rima Gor says:

    Great place for camping vacation. I truly enjoyed reading this article & definitely Romania would be added in my bucket list. Thanks for inspiring & sharing such type of destinations with us.

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