Visiting Leshten and Kovachevitsa was completely unplanned, but since we were already in the area, we decided to take a day trip and see these places for ourselves. I am extremely happy we did that, because these beautiful villages are some of the most authentic Bulgarian villages I’ve ever visited!
While I was looking for places to visit in the area, Leshten and Kovachevitsa immediately caught my eye. We just had to go there and see these lovely Rhodope villages with our eyes – their architectural style stands out from almost every other place in the country!
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How to get to Kovachevitsa and Leshten
Coming from Sofia, we decided to go through the Struma highway; when we got to Simitli we had to get off the highway and continue to Gradevo.
The road also passes through Bansko which is another beautiful place – I highly suggest stopping by and strolling around if you have enough time. Or if you are already on a holiday in Bansko, then Leshten and Kovachevitsa are the perfect destination for a day trip.
After you pass by Bansko and Dobrinishte, the Mesta river will appear on your left side and you will travel along it for some time. When the road crosses the river for the first time (at Gospodintsi) you must turn left at the second possible crossroad. Ognyanovo will be the first little town to pass by, and a few villages later you will find yourself in Leshten, and then in Kovachevitsa.
If you are coming from a different place in Bulgaria and are taking the road through Velingrad, then Kovachevitsa will be the first village and about 8 km later you will reach Leshten.
Sightseeing in Leshten – Things to do and what to see?
At the entrance of the village you will be greeted by the lovely view of the houses perched on the mountain hills.
Park your car at the main square and begin your walking tour through the picturesque cobbled streets of the village.
The houses in the traditional Kovachevski style are the main reason why this place is so popular among travel lovers. The stone buildings still carry the authentic style of the spirit of the Bulgarian village which is felt also in Kovachevitsa.
One of the architectural monuments of Leshten is the “St. Paraskeva” Church which dates from 1836, as well as the monastery school. The frescoes in the church stand out with their bright colors and are worth seeing.
Perhaps one of the most known buildings in the village of Leshten is the “Clay House”. Although it is a relatively new house (unlike the other 200-years old buildings), this is the most visited landmark in the village. Actually the Clay house also functions as a Guest house so you can not only take a look at it from afar but also book it overnight!
See the Clay house availability here.
Only 8 km from Leshten is our next stop – the village of Kovachevitsa. We left the car in a parking lot on the main street in Kovachevitsa and continued our tour on foot.
Sightseeing in Kovachevitsa – Things to do and what to see?
Kovachevitsa is a small Rhodope village with a permanent population of about 50-60 people.
On the streets however you will meet a lot of tourists attracted by the unusual appearance and historical significance of the village.
Kovachevitsa has preserved its authentic appearance from the ХVIII-ХIХ century and is considered one of the most beautiful Bulgarian villages. This is also the reason why it was declared an architectural reserve attracting not only tourists, but also artists.
The story of this region is truly exceptional. Throughout the years many findsand evidence of the rich historical past of the area have been found. Life in these lands dates back to Antiquity, with finds from the first millenium BC.
North of the village in the area “St. Constantine” a bronze helmet and bronze armor were discovered – two of the most valuable national finds from the end of the IV and the beginning of the III century BC.
One of the most important landmarks in Kovachevitsa and a symbol of the village is the church “St. Nicholas”. The church was built in 1847 and, according to the requirements of the then Ottoman empire, it is located in the lower parts of the village and was dug into the ground, so it’s as low as possible.
Walking through the narrow streets of Kovachevitsa you can’t help but notice that all the houses are built almost entirely from stone.
The houses of Kovachevitsa – solid stone buildings with masonry are an architectural wealth that can not be seen anywhere else in the country.
The houses are made of stacked stones welded with soft soil which makes them extremely durable.
Thanks to its authentic appearance, Kovachevitsa often attracts filmmakers who choose the village as a filming location for their productions. More than 20 Bulgarian and foreign films have been filmed here, including “Тhe Village”, “Man’s Times” and “Тhe Devil’s Tail”.
Taking a trip to Leshten and Kovachevitsa is certainly something which I would recommend to everyone. The two villages impress with their unique ambience and would be a big miss if you are in the region and don’t visit them.
And if you don’t have enough time to visit both, then I would recommend visiting Kovachevitsa first.
What else can we see around Leshten and Kovachevitsa?
The Rhodope region is full of beautiful places which must be visited. This certainly applies to the region around Leshten and Kovachevitsa as well.
Only a few kilometers from Leshten you will find the village of Ognyanovo famous for its numerous mineral pools and developed spa tourism. Here you can indulge in complete relaxation and tranquility.
If you are a fan of hiking, then you can consider a walk to the reserve “Dark Forest”, the waterfall “Sini vir”, the rock formations “Black Rock” and “Goat Stone Ancient Rock Sanctuary”.
For all lovers of history and archeological finds, nearby is the Roman city of Nicopolis ad Nestum or in other words “City of Victory at the Mesta River”. Nicopolis ad Nestum is one of the few preserved ancient cities in Bulgaria. Today it is declared an archeological and architectural monument from Antiquity and Medieval times.
Nearby is the town of Gotse Delchev, where you can stop for a short walk to the local sights.
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For travelling in Bulgaria, I highly recommend renting a car so you are able to visit as many places as possible without being dependent on buses and trains. One of the biggest and most reliable car rental companies is Top Rent a Car. I’ve used their services and was very happy with them, so I can definitely recommend them. Click here to discover car rental options.
You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for a place to stay in Leshten.
Organized tours can spare you the hassle of planning the full trip by yourself. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.
Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, as they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.
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