The Bulgarian village of Shiroka Laka – history, sights and more

We got to visit the village of Shiroka Laka during one wonderful weekend in December, which we had planned to spend entirely in Pamporovo and to ‘run on the slopes’.

Everyone knows that skiing in rainy weather is not the most pleasant thing to do, but apparently this was our luck – it started raining on the first day we arrived. While wondering what to do, the opportunity arose to go for a walk, and the first interesting place we discovered nearby was the village of Shiroka Laka.

And so, being disappointed that we could not enjoy the Pamporovo ski slopes, we headed to the village without any high expectations.

In this article I’ll take you around the Shiroka Laka – we’ll go through the most important sights and places to visit. The walk takes no more than 1 – 2 hours, but you can always make your stay longer by stopping to take some photos (there are enough beautiful spots for this, trust me), or going for a hearty traditional lunch.

 

How to get to Shiroka Laka?

The village is located 14 km (approximately 25 minutes) away from the resort of Pamporovo, 94 km from Plovdiv and 25 km from Smolyan, which is the nearest district town. Shiroka Laka is nestled in the valley of the Shirokolashka River between the Perelik part of the Rhodopes and the Chernatitsa ridge. Nearby are the villages of Gela and Stoykite, which are also interesting to visit.

The history of the village of Shiroka Laka

Shiroka Laka is a small village in Southern Bulgaria, which is famous for its authentic Rhodope houses. It is declared an architectural and folklore reserve, and the oldest houses here are built out of stone and wood in the early 18th century.

This is one of the villages where the Rhodope song was born. The village, known for its authentic folklore, is the birthplace of a few generations of famous Bulgarian bagpipers. In 1972, the Secondary Music School for Folk Songs and instruments was opened here, and its graduates keep popularizing the Rhodope music far beyond the Bulgarian borders.

The name of the village comes from the old Bulgarian word „лѫка“ meaning “curve, curvature, meandering“. Once you visit the village you will immediately understand why it probably got this name – it is full of narrow winding streets, due to the location, the river, the terrain and other factors.

The best things to do in Shiroka Laka

Church of the Assumption


One of the greatest prides of the village is the church of Assumption, which was built in 1834 by the villagers for just 38 days – as allowed by the Turkish firman. It is believed that it has been painted by the famous master Zahari Zograf and his brother Dimiter – representatives of the Samokov Art School.

The church of “Assumption” is a complete complex together with other adjacent buildings and facilities related to church worship and enlightenment, united by a high stone fence. The waters of the river Ladja flow to the northern part of the wall. In 1835 a small extension was built for the old cell school.

The church was registered as an immovable cultural property of local significance and artistic value in 1973.

House-museum of captain Petko Voyvoda

In Shiroka Laka you will find the house – museum, in which from 1878 until 1879 lived the captain Petko Voyvoda – a bulgarian hajduk leader and revolutionary, who dedicated his life to the liberation from the Ottoman Empire.

Monument to Captain Petko Voyvoda

In addition to the house – museum, here you can see a monument dedicated to Captain Petko Voyvoda.

Monument of Exarch Stephen I

Exarch Stephen I was a senior Bulgarian orthodox clergyman and exarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church between 1945 and 1948. The monument was built here in 2003 in his honor, because Shiroka Laka was his birthplace.

Birth house of Exarch Stephen I


In addition to the monument in Shiroka Laka you can see the birth house of Exarch Stephen I. Born on September 19 (September 7 in the old style) 1878 and spent his childhood in the village, where he received primary and secondary education, and then continued his studies in the village of Orehovo.

Chapel “St. Todor Stratilat”

The Rhodope mountains are known as a place where the Christian faith of the Bulgarians is strongly manifested. This is especially true for the region of Shiroka Laka.

Chapel “St. Todor” was built on the site of the current clock tower of the primary school. According to the plans for building the school, the chapel was planned to be demolished. And although finding people for this task turned out to be difficult because the Christian faith in the people did not let them destroy such a shrine, there were still brave people who destroyed it.

After the destruction of the chapel during 1937, the village was hit by many disasters and fires. There is a widespread legend among the locals that the fires in the village would stop only after the rebuilding of the chapel “St. Theodor”.

And so in 2000 a group of young men from the village of Shiroka Laka organized to build a new chapel, called “St. Todor Stratilat”, and it can still be visited in the village..

Ethnographic Museum

In the building of the so-called “Zgurovski konak” is housed the Ethnographic museum of Shiroka Laka, where the life of our ancestors from the Bulgarian National Revival is shown.

The building was built in 1853 and is-called “konak” because it was intended as the house of a Turkish administrative official.

Final thoughts

Although small, the village of Shiroka Laka definitely has something to offer to its visitors. If you are in the area or maybe you have come for a ski holiday in Pamporovo, don’t miss out on the opportunity to stop by Shiroka Laka, because it is extremely close and at the same time hides wonderful treasures.

 


Are you planning a trip to Bulgaria? Here are even more useful blog posts:

25 Gorgeous Places to visit in Bulgaria

Kovachevitsa and Leshten – Bulgaria’s fairytale villages

12 Things to do in Borovets for non-skiers

28 Delightful Things to do in Bansko for every season

25 Best Things to do in Veliko Tarnovo – Tips from a Local

7 Top Things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria

10 Wonderful things to do in Pamporovo (besides skiing)

 

 

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