The Stone Mushrooms & The Petrified Wedding
The Stone Mushrooms & The Petrified Wedding are both situated in the Eastern Rhodopes, close to the town of Kardzhali and en route to the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon.
The Stone Mushrooms
Driving to find The Stone Mushrooms (Kamenni Gabi) is not an easy task given that there is rarely a sign to guide us to our destination. As we head for quite a few kilometres, hopefully in the right direction towards the village of Beli Plast, our optimism suddenly changes as we see larger than life mushroom interpretations just above the side of the road. We stop the car beneath these mysteriously large shrooms and pile out to have a closer look at one of the natural phenomenons in Bulgaria.
The snowy landscape adds to the atmosphere of these unique rocks of gentle, giant mushrooms clustered together like wild fungi. They’re easy to walk around, despite the snow, and stand at around two and a half metres high and almost as wide.
They are said to be originally formed by volcanic activity under water and after being submerged at the bottom of the prehistoric sea, they were later sculpted by nature’s elements. Water only went as high as head of the mushrooms and as the water receded, the appearance of stalks were shaped from flooding. Colours of pink and green are entwined in the contours of the limestone and they really are a natural beauty.
Legend of The Stone Mushrooms
According to a legend, the charcoal burner Raduil lived in the Perperikon fortress with his four beautiful daughters. One sunny morning they went outside the town walls to bring water. Suddenly, they saw a great horde of invaders at the hill near the river. They ran back to the fortress. A fervent, uneven battle started; many men were killed, most of the women were captured. The daughters of Raduil were among them.
They were waged to the leader of the horde, astride a racial horse at the nearby river – to take a look at them and choose the most beautiful ones for him and to sell the others as slaves. Fury gripped the hearts of the girls as they approached him. They grabbed what they could – sticks, stones, and began throwing them at the rider. The horse got scared and stood on its hind legs. The unsuspecting rider fell on the ground, the four girls ran towards him and tore him apart and ran into the forest.
The closest friend of the leader ran to pursue the girls and caught them at the end of the day, lashed out with his yataghan and cut off the first one’s head. As it fell on the ground, it turned into a stone mushroom. The same happened with the other sisters. Before the man cut the head of the last girl, she petrified. The terrified man tried to escape with his horse, but turned into a black rock at the first step. Nowadays people call the lonely rock near the mushrooms Karatepe. (taken from Bulgaria Travel)
The Petrified Wedding
We continue our explorations of what’s known as part of the Kardzhali Pyramids with a visit to The Petrified Wedding; more bizarre rocks which have eroded into strange shapes, and are located near the village of Zimzelen. The climb up is wet and slippery but worth the effort to see these random creations seemingly grown from the earth.
Their origin is not that dissimilar to that of The Stone Mushrooms and are calculated to have started forming 40 million years ago from underwater volcanic activity which gave them their rock rhyolite tuffs. They’re spread over 40 acres, stand up to 10m high and the minerals in these rocks give them their colours of red, brown and pink.
The positioning of these stones gives the impression of a wedding procession which includes people and animals such as birds and horses. Petrified by nature, the bride, groom and guests are eerily still in this silent backdrop to the village.
Legend of The Petrified Wedding
According to the legend, a young man from the village of Zimzelen fell in love with a girl from a nearby village. During the wedding, on the travel to the village of Zimzelen, a strong wind blew off the veil of the bride. Her indescribable beauty made the guests speechless, and the father-in-law felt jealous of his son. The natural forces petrified everyone for the impure thoughts of the father-in-law. Only the groom lived, crying bitter tears, begging the wind to petrify him too. The elements fulfilled his request and the phenomenon The Petrified Wedding stands to the present day near a puddle, which is believed to be made of the tears of the unfortunate groom. (Taken from Guide-Bulgaria)
You can read more about the natural wonders of Bulgaria’s The Stone Forest and if you’ve visited The Stone Forest or The Petrified Wedding, I’d love to know what you thought in the comment box below 🙂