Mt. Perperikon

Hi there. My name is Michael Mondragon and I am a senior at Syracuse University in the civil engineering program. As you have probably read from my previous classmates, we are on an experiential trip in Bulgaria. We visited a total of 10 different sites, both current and historical. One of those historical sites was hiking our way up Mt. Perperikon.

After a long two hour drive through many twists and turns, we finally arrived at our starting point. We had with us a guide that gave us important historic information along the way.

The first fun fact was about the mountain itself. It used to appear similar to the adjacent mountains, with trees, shrubs, and fauna all around it. Millennia ago it was found by the “Stone People”, which due to their animistic beliefs chose the mountain as a holy ground to carve out the faces of animals in the stones. Mt. Perperikon is made of a soft, brittle stone. Knowing this the “Stone People” were ingenious enough to use granite, a stronger stone, as a carving tool. Along the path where the carvings were located they also carved out a set of stairs from a small opening. Soon after carving out the mountain, the “Stone People” seem to have just vanished.

For years people had known about the mountain, but never had been anyone to officially explore it. The story goes that Prof. Nickolay Ovcharov, an archaeologist from Bulgaria, travelled by horseback through the many villages surrounding the mountain to record the various stories the people had about the mountain. Ovcharov discovery of the archeological site within the mountain is what has led current generations to uncover the surrounding area of the mountain. He is know as the Bulgarian Indiana Jones.

Roughly about 2000 years after the “Stone People” vanished, the Thracians came upon the face of the mountain. Witnessing the massive animal carvings on the mountain, the Thracians saw it as a sign from the gods to make the mountain their new home. The opening was widened by the Thracians, and the steps were made wide and high enough so when people were to climb the stairs it would appear as if they were bowing along the way.

Hiking further up the mountain we found remains of where doors used to be, ancient drainage systems, the temple of Dionysus, rooms in houses, and tombs. The Thracians believed in celebrating the dead rather than the living. They knew that life was hard, so at birth they would cry and at death they would drink to celebrate a person being put out of their misery of the world. Speaking of drinking, the Thracians were know to be heavy drinkers, hence their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine. Along the mountain path we encountered what used to be their wine storing area.

Finally, after a long hike up the mountain we had reached the top. From there we got a great view of the surrounding valley and nearby towns. Mt. Perperikon wasn’t just the home to the Thracians. Along the years it has belonged to those who conquer the land. The timeline consists of Thracian, Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarians, Ottoman, Turks, Soviet Union, and finally returning to the Bulgarians.

Our last stop before making our way back down was climbing inside the tower for a final group picture!

(P.S. – Pictures to come!)

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