[April 2022] After having a hearty meal in Melnik, a village in the southwest of Bulgaria, we took a walk around the village.
As instructed by the young man at the hotel, Antoine, we first searched for a ruin called Bolyaskata Kashta.
This is one of the oldest houses in Bulgaria, which was built in the 10th century and is now in ruins.
On the way uphill, there was something that looked like it, but the signs weren’t very clear, so we were not sure about it.
Antoine said there was also the ruins of the Sveti Antoni church nearby, but I could not tell which one that was, either.
According to a guidebook, Melnik used to have 70 churches, but now only 40 remain and most of them are in ruins.
It prospered thanks to the wine-making industry, and once had a population of 20,000, but now it is said to be less than 400.
The village was almost destroyed during the Balkan Wars in the early 20th century.
Many Greeks used to live here, but during this war, the Greek army forced them to relocate.
So, even in this village, which looked like one of the most peaceful places in the world, there were dreadful scenes in the past.
As we climbed up the hill, we had a good view, and the scenery of the traditional houses standing side by side with the unique sandstone mountain in the background was wonderful.
Then we visited Kordopulov House, the highlight of the village.
Built in 1754, this large house once belonged to Melnik’s largest wine merchant and is now a museum open to the public.
The wine merchant was Greek, as Antoine said it was a “Greek house”.
The atmosphere of the old room was recreated, but the scenery with a low table placed on the floor covered with a floral carpet and seats with cushions lined up by the window was more Turkish rather than Greek.
This reminded me of a palace room in Bakhchisaray, Crimea, which we had been to nearly ten years ago.
There were rooms with stained glass windows and delicate wood carvings on the ceilings.
The wooden staircase rather resembled my grandmother’s old house in Kyushu, Japan.
On the lower floor was the entrance to the wine cellar.
It seemed like we could go inside, but my husband doesn’t like places like narrow caves, so we stopped going.
According to the guidebook, there is a 180-meter maze-like tunnel with coins embedded in the walls, so it seems worth seeing.