Do you dream of a place where you can completely forget the vanity of the big city? Do you desire tranquility, peace and total bliss? Then we recommend you to visit the village of Leshten.
In fact, Leshten is not for everyone. The village is for those of you who want to enjoy the beautiful nature, tranquility and home, rural cuisine. Lesthen is for those of you who are fans of Bulgarian history, Bulgarian traditions and who want at least for a while to go back in time. Because Leshten is romance, inspiration and magic!
What is the location of the village of Leshten?
The ancient village is located in Southwestern Bulgaria. It is situated on the southern slopes of the Western Rhodope Mountain at an altitude of 900 meters. It is about 8 kilometers away from the Garmen village and about 57 kilometers away from the town of Bansko, and 110 kilometers away from Blagoevgrad.
What is so special about Leshten?
Imagine the following…
Driving along the narrow mountain road to the village. You go deeper in the mountains, and the greenery surrounds you completely. Along the way, as far as your eyes can see, there are centuries-old beech and pine forests. The turns follow the curves of Kanina River, and the Sun shines joyfully through the leaves of the trees.
Drive slowly because there is no need to rush. Just enjoy the beautiful scenery as much as you can. It is so beautiful and peaceful. You feel how anxiety and tension leave your body, and you do not even realize that you are starting to smile for no reason. There is the last turn and you can see the sign board of the village of Leshten.
You slowly enter the village, you leave the car on the square, under the big walnut tree and go on foot.
Wherever you turn, you see stone two-storey houses built by the Leshten masters 200 years ago. Each house has a huge veranda, which is lit by the Sun, as well as a spacious yard with a green grass-plot and alleys, where purple violets, marguerites and aromatic primroses grow.
The pastoral picture is enriched by the trellis vines full with grapes and by the quiet mowing of cows in the distance. The houses are located on both sides of the narrow, cobblestone streets, and some are so close to each other as if they are leaning forward to whisper quietly in the haze of the afternoon. You walk on the cobblestone and you have the feeling as if with every step you go back in time.
This is so special about the village of Leshten! Here one can feel the strongest connection to his roots, to get energy and spend an unforgettable day.
How the village was formed?
According to a number of archeological findings, the area of Lesten has been inhabited since ancient times. There is no exact evidence with regard to the time when the village was formed, but its name was mentioned for the first time in 1671 (Then, in 1671, the name of the village was mentioned in an Ottoman document in relation to the purchase of goods).
Historians are of the opinion that the first settlers of Leshten were families who settled in the area because of the auriferous sands of Kanina River. Whether or not the first settlers have come here to look for gold we cannot say for sure, however, we can say that they were skilful people who were hard-working and just for 50 years they turned the village into a very rich and good place for living.
At the beginning of XIX century, Leshten was in its heyday and became an important trade center. At the same time were built the church and cell school, and Leshten became a strong attraction center for many families who lived in the surrounding areas, so they settled in the village (at that time the houses numbered 56).
In 1907, the population of the village already numbered about 500 people, and agriculture and crafts were highly developed. Until the 1930s Leshten retained its position as an important commercial and municipal center, but then it gradually began to depopulate. People began to leave the village, and nowadays its permanent residents are only 10.
Although its inhabitants can be counted on the fingers of both hands, active rural tourism is developing in the village and this makes it one of the most desired and popular destinations in Bulgaria during all seasons.
What to see in the village of Leshten?
You can start exploring Leshten with a walk around the village. Start from the square and continue on the narrow, cobblestone streets. Climb up and look around. The view of the 200-year-old houses, located one above the other, are a sight that you will keep forever in your memory. Look in the yards, filled with greenery and flowers, enter into one of these houses and explore it.
Did we mention that you can stay in one of the 15 guest houses that offer accommodation?
The renovated old houses have preserved their authentic appearance, and in one of them you can feel strongest connection to the past. If you do not have enough time, you can just have a walk and when you feel tired you can visit one of the local restaurants where you can try the homemade dishes that are offered here.
And before you express your doubt, we will tell you that the products used in local restaurants are completely ecological, as they grow in the region. You must try one of the local specialties, for example the meatballs with hash meat, roasted hen, pancakes with homemade jam, „Uviach” (meat with yellow cheese).
Visit also the „Saint Paraskeva”church. This church was built in 1833 and it has preserved its authentic appearance. Go inside and light a candle, look at the frescoes that shine in bright colors. Pay attention to the fresco „Ascension of Saint Elijah”, and to the icons of „Saint Paraskeva” and „Saint Nedelya”, see the 300 years old baptismal font in which generations of residents of Leshten were baptized.
If you would like to learn more about the cultural heritage of the village of Leshten, you can visit the community center where you will find a rich collection of photos, musical instruments, tools that have been used in the past, national costumes, home textiles and other household items.
Finally, before you leave, you can buy something from the small art shops and then head to the biggest attraction of the village – „The Clay house”.
The clay house is not 200 years old, on the contrary. It is a modern house, but it is so unique that there is no tourist who has not visited it or admired it from afar.
The building is made entirely of clay, wood and straw, and it looks like the house of the popular cartoon character Fred Flinstone. If you are in Leshten just for one day, you can see it from the outside, but if you decide that you want to spend the night there, you can rent it and spend a few days in Leshten.
Sights near the village
Every place in the Rhodope Mountain is magical, but when it comes to the region of Leshten, your entertainment options are so many that if you are not planning to stay at least for a few days here, you will have to choose which of the most remarkable places to visit.
If you are fond of rural tourism and you like the coziness of the Leshten village, then you will love the visit the village of Kovatchevitsa. This village is located 8 kilometers away from Leshten, so you can easily combine the exploration of both villages.
Kovatchevitsa and Leshten are quite alike – starting from the preserved stone two-storey houses with beautiful yards, the fascinating nature and cobblestone streets to the quietness that surrounds everything. Do not miss to visit the „Saint Nicholas”church in Kovatchevitsa, and one of the stone two-storey houses, try the delicious, local cuisine and light a candle in the chapel above the village.
But if you prefer walks in the mountain, you can visit sites located in the region of Leshten, for example – „Tamnata gora”reserve, the rocky formations „Chernata skala” and „Koziyat kamuk”, or „Siniqt vir”waterfall, the Kanina River canyon and others.
You should not miss to visit the Ognyanovo balneological resort, which is located only a few kilometers away from Leshten. In Ognyanovo you can enjoy one of the numerous mineral pools for complete relaxation and charging of „batteries”.
Since you are in this part of the Rhodope Mountain and you have seen a lot already, so nothing prevents you from going to other place that has become very popular in recent years – the village of Ribnovo, or you can visit the Garmen village.
The Rhodope region is amazing and you will find it hard to find a place that does not impress you with its beautiful sights, rich history and delicious, ecologically clean food.
However, of all the places you can visit while you are on holiday in Bansko, you will like the most the villages of Kovatchevitsa and Leshten.
Therefore, if you are looking for a place that can take you back in time, if you are looking for a place where you can forget about all your problems, then you should visit the village of Leshten. Because Leshten is one of the few places in Bulgaria that has magic and enormous charm that will amaze you completely.
How to get to the village of Leshten?
If you are on a holiday in the town of Bansko, you should take the direction to Dobrinishte. There is no chance to go in the wrong direction. Just drive straight to the direction of Ognyanovo and Garmen, and near Garmen you will see the sign board with indications for Leshten. Follow the road and you will get there without any problem.
The distance between the town of Bansko and Leshten is about 57 kilometers, and you will need 50 -60 minutes.
If you travel to Leshten from the town of Gotse Delchev, the distance between these two settlements is only 14.38 kilometers and you will need only 10 minutes.