Gella may be a tiny town hidden in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, but its legendary location has inspired travelers for centuries. Originally founded by Thracian tribes at the foot of the highest peak, Golyam Perelik, Gella has occupied a picturesque spot surrounded by the mountains since antiquity. The distinct area geography created an ideal natural fortification and the remains of Thracian fortresses and Roman roads can be investigated when exploring the landscape around town. Farther afield, four different UNESCO World Heritage sites, medieval castles, and churches fashioned in traditional Bulgarian style are also worth a visit.
Accessible year-round in spite of its mountainous location, the region encompassing the Gella village enjoys a mild climate and some 280 days of sunshine in an average year. Favorable conditions and a clear atmosphere made this the perfect site for the Rohzen Observatory, one of the largest in Europe. Rohzen was established in 1980 by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and its team of astronomers is constantly studying the skies. Thrills in the mountains are easy to uncover on hiking, spelunking, and skiing excursions. The Pamporovo ski resort features cross-country and downhill challenges, while the caves in the area vary in difficulty and are noted for their gorgeous spindly formations. Dyavolskoto Garlo, or the Devil’s Throat, is a stunning cave and waterfall said to be the very site where the mythical musician Orpheus descended into the Underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice.
Local fables also mark Gella as the birthplace of Orpheus, and the town revels in this musical spirit each August when playing host to the National Bagpipe Festival. Musicians, dancers, and spectators from throughout the Balkans travel to Gella to camp out and participate in performances and competitions. The bagpipe sound is similar to the music made in Scotland, and although the traditional melodies can sound somber, this annual outdoor music festival is loaded with a vibe of frivolity. Whether for cultural celebration or adventure, including Gella in your luxury Bulgaria travel plans will leave you enriched and inspired.