The Magurata cave was inhabited from humans since the last palaeolithic age (8000 B.C.)
The most impressive thing there are the drawings. They are more than 100 and were made by the cave inhabitans using bat guano in various periods - epupaleolith, neolith, eneolith, the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.
It is is one of the largest caves in Bulgaria with total length of more than 2500 m of the galleries, discovered till now.
Visiting there is in groups of 10 people with a tour guide, so you may need until the group is formed. Entrance fee: 4lv, for children - 2lv, for a family - 8lv. The tour lasts about 1.5hours so plan enough time to spend there.
Equipment: it is about 12 degrees inside, so if you are visiting the cave in summer take a jacket. It is very wet and slip, so wear proper shoes. It is a cave afterall, so be prepared to get dirty.
location: 20-25km away from Belogradchik, 2km away from the village of Rabisha
From Sofia - take the way to Vidin till Dimovo, then turn to Rabisha and then follow the sings to Magurata
working time: winter: 9am-1pm, 1:30pm-5pm; summer: 9am-1pm, 1:30pm-6pm
There is also a wine cellar where Champagne-like wines are produced.
Even in this less known places you can see some communist era remnants. Or maybe just because it was a third-rate road out of nowhere, that monument was left to stay, or just ignored. I remember travelling as a kid, there were many monuments, signs, captions on bridges, etc. with red stars, pompous slogans, and other typical communist ‘art’. Later on, most were removed, or left to get destroyed by the elements. As we were driving along the deserted road, through the green hills, this rusty ‘monument’ appeared and I had to take a picture.
Beside the more imposing rock formations around Belogradchik, there were many more smaller groups that we saw along the road to Sofia. Some were behind the green fields and others, behind the row of houses along the road. The roads were narrow and in very bad condition but we drove through a lovely area. The road was tree lined, with a lot of fragrant blossoming acacias, on one side we saw the hills and rocks, and on the other, in the distance, the snow covered ridge of the Balkan Mountain (Stara Planina). We crossed many rivers and creeks. Everywhere was very green and beautiful, and we hardly saw any cars…
The village of Dolni Lom is on the way to Sofia from Belogradchik. We stopped there since we say a shop open and one of my travelling companions wanted to have an “oblak”. That’s a drink prepared by mixing ice-cold ‘mastika’ (anis mastice) with ‘menta’ (a menthol flavoured alcohol). The drink is called ‘oblak’ (meaning, cloud) because when mixing the two drinks the liquid becomes ‘clouded’, but only if they are ice cold. So while we were waiting I had a short walk in the village and I liked it very much. The old houses, although in a bad need of repair, were somehow charming and inviting. Just across the street there was an old lady sitting on her bench in front of her house, leaning on her walking stick and musing. On both sides of the gate there were obituaries (here we put obituaries on the walls, so all these pictures you see in the streets are not of elderly criminals wanted by the law!!). So I guess this woman was a widow and was sitting alone on her bench. I really wonder what she was thinking about… Further on I saw a group of people sitting and chatting. Behind them was an old house and behind it the hills towered and a small group of rock formations. I thought to myself, what a wonderful view that house has! Right next to the people there was an old truck, possibly broken and left there 10 years ago. I liked the scene so much that I asked the people whether I could take a picture. One fixed his gray hair, another tried to straighten up and strike a pose… Somehow I felt close to these people although I met them for just 20 seconds… Then driving out of the village, we met a hear of sheep walking on the road. We had to stop as they passed by, followed by their shepherdess…
I’ve always considered myself a city girl. Although I love nature and an occasional getaway from civilization, I’ve never thought I would want to live my life in a village. After I passed through so many villages, with the nice, although dilapidated, old houses, little gardens, narrow bridges over rivers, old small churches, green green fields and fragrant forests, plus more rock formations and distant mountain hills…. I’ve started to think that I wouldn’t mind having a weekend house in the area. Or in any rural area in Bulgaria. The roads being so bad in that area could be an advantage, in the sense that the newly-rich don’t consider building palaces there. Besides, it’s too far away from sea or skiing resorts for the foreign property hunters… Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this tip, maybe now more people would rush to buy property there. But, hey, if you decide to buy a house in the area because of my tip, I should at least be entitled to free visits 4 time a year, deal :)))
So if you are travelling by car and have the time, do explore the area as well. Drive slowly through the villages, stop here and there, you can buy some home-made sheep yoghurt/cheese or honey, sit down on a bench and have a chat with the locals, admire the rocks appearing here and there on the green hills, or just breathe in the fragrant air and enjoy the shady back roads.
Next to the Magura Cave is the Rabisha Lake - the largest inland lake in Bulgaria. It is up to 35-40m deep. The Rabisha Lake is of tectonic origin. It offers perfect conditions for surfing and swimming. The lake is also an attractive place for hunting and fishing. Lake birds, carp and sheet-fish can be found in it.
Twenty-five kilometres due south of Belogradchik is Midzhur , at 2168m the highest of a whole series of densely wooded hills that have only recently been made accessible to hikers. For decades they were considered off limits because of the supposedly sensitive nature of the border with Yugoslavia, and there's a corresponding lack of chalets or tourist facilities in the region. If you do fancy exploring, the foothill villages of Gorni Lom and Chuprene are the starting points for footpaths into the mountains, though the nearest accommodation is back in Belogradchik, where you can also hire guides from the Hotel Tourist .
20 kilometres northwest of Belogradchik lies the village of RABISHA , a couple of kilometres short of the much-publicized Magura Cave . As early as 2700 BC, the cave was occupied by hunters, traces of whom are now displayed in a small museum. It is 2500 meters long and is one of the biggest Bulgarian caves. The cave is electrified and accommodated for tourists. It's best known, though, for its rock paintings executed in bat-droppings, which depict hunting scenes, dance scenes, love scenes and a fertility rite. Some individual motives show bears, deer and birds. The paintings are made with guano. Striking detail: The female figures tend to be bigger than the male figures, suggesting that women enjoyed superior status in the cave society of the time. This famous picture gallery is 2800 years. Some of the other chambers - with names like the "Hall of the Poplar" and the "Hall of the Fallen Pine" - contain interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations that give them their names. One of the halls, namely the hall of Triumph, has a small lake and a gallery of drawings, more than 300 m long. In the cave there have been found remnants of pre-historic life, traces of settlements dating back to the early Bronze Age and early Iron Age - ceramics, tools and rock drawingsUnfortunately the theft of the cave's lighting system has meant that only groups are allowed inside; enquire at the Hotel Tourist in Belogradchik if you're interested in visiting it.
The monastery school in Rabisha, is one of the oldest of its kind in Bulgaria. It is built in 1835, in the courtyard of the church St.Prorok Ilia (Holy prophet Ilia).