Shiroka Luka (Shiroka Laka) tourist info and hotels
Shiroka Luka (also spelled Shiroka Laka) is a small village, inhabited by less than a thousand people, but it is a popular historical site among travellers, interested in cultural tourism. Nowadays, the village still preserves the traditional for the Rhodopes Mountain architecture and culture.
It is situated at 1060 meters elevation in the valley of the Shirokolashka River, at the foot of the Chernatitza, only 10-20 kilometers away from other popular tourist destinations in Rhodopes such as Smolyan, Devin and the famous ski resort of Pamporovo.
While staying in the village you will go back to the Renaissance period of Bulgaria with the typical houses, small paved streets and arched bridges. You will also get to know the Rhodopean traditions in the songs, speech and typical dishes of the area.
The village was founded during the 17th century - a time when the population was forced to convert to Mohammedanism while under the Ottoman control.
The first people who lived in the region were from the Urutzi tribe, but they later inhabited the Aegean region. The small village of Zaevite was the first settlement, but it had to be moved due to some landslides. The people first moved to the area around the Lukovitza River and later to the settlement now known as Shiroka Luka. The village is named after the wide delta of the river near it.
Shiroka Luka is now an architectural reserve with 90 official monuments from the time of the Bulgarian National Revival. Most of the monuments are houses which still preserve the typical architecture and the oldest ones were built in the beginning of the 19th century. The houses have 2 floors, small windows, long stone chimneys, doors from forged iron, wooden staircases on the inside and small hiding places. Some of the well known houses include the Kalaidjiiska, Grigorov, and Bogdan houses.
One of the most attractive buildings in the village is the Town hall, called Sgurov Konak. It is now home to the Ethnographic Museum where you can see how the people lived during the Revival Period. Another magnificent building is the church Uspenie Bogorodichno. It was built in 1834 and has amazing decorations and architecture. On one side of it is located the Plamarchovata house which became the first school in the area in 1830. In the village there is also a folk music school.
From the village of Shiroka Luka you can go to Beden which is only 7 kilometers away. The mineral waters there have been know from Ancient times. There are also rock phenomena in the area, called Glavata (the head) and Momata (the maiden) and you can also visit Liatnata gora (summer forest). Only 7 kilometers from the village there is another beautiful one, called Stoikite. Through Shiroka Luka pass many tourist roads around the Rhodope Mountain. From the village you can climb to the peaks of Turlata, Goliam and Malak Perelik (Big and Small Perelik), Shirokolashki snejnik and more.
This is a typical folklore carnival which is carried out every first week of March. The tradition stems from some pagan believes and represents the creation of the world. The dancers wear typical for some places in Bulgaria costumes and masks resembling beasts and their dances are believed to scare away the evil spirits. The dancers are called Koukeri and they also dance to bring health and fertility to the land.
This is another annual event in the region, celebrated 8 days before Easter. Young maidens circle the houses of the village and sing special songs for health and good fortune. The maidens receive some gifts from the people they sing to and in the old times this day was very popular for the young men to propose to the women they love.