Whatever we say about Zheravna, it will not be enough. We just love this village and keep coming back there every summer – at least for a night.
If you ever find yourself on the Black Sea to the south, be sure to visit the village of Zheravna. It is about 100km faraway from the port city of Bourgas and its picturesque mountainside location is perfect for experiencing an authentic Bulgarian village.
The village of Zheravna is a historical, architectural reserve of beautiful houses and meandering, cobblestone streets. The place keeps the spirit of rural Bulgaria alive. The nature around is breathtaking – you can enjoy the green hills of the Eastern Balkans mountain from every guesthouse in the village.
Where to stay in Zheravna?
There is a good choice of really good authentic places to stay at in Zheravna. There are no contemporary hotels – just BandBs and guesthouses. Many of the old houses were renovated and turned into comfortable guesthouses, nicely completing the authentic landscape of the settlement.
We usually visit Zheravna in summer. It can be really hot during the summer days, although the mountain weather guarantees significantly cooler evenings and nights. Interestingly, there are only two establishments to offer an open swimming pool: the ‘Sava Cupetsa’ guesthouse and ‘Milen-Prodanovi Houses’. Both are good, but our choice is the second.
Milen-Prodanovi Houses is a complex of two separate guest houses, located in the north part of the city, near a beautiful pine forest. The whole place is tastefully decorated and has every convenience one can think of: all rooms are en-suite, the décor is pretty, and the garden is gorgeous… There is a fully equipped kitchen, barbeque area and even a tavern for the guests to use. The swimming pool is not big, but it’s offer a splendid view over the village and the meadows nearby.
We fell in love with the breakfast. It’s traditional, homemade Bulgarian breakfast: banitza, mekitshi, pancakes, fried bread slices – with homemade honey, and yoghurt. There are no other meals offered in Milen-Prodanovi Houses.
For lunch and dinner we strongly recommend the bistro of the neighboring Yovina Guesthouse. It located just one block away and offers delicious traditional dishes in a wonderful garden. Be sure to make a reservation, just in case.
The rooms of Yovina’s house are nice as well. The only thing missing is the swimming pool, but it nevertheless is a great accommodation option.
Parking is available along the streets throughout the village. There’s no problem with that, although some of the streets are really narrow.
What to do in Zheravna?
Just strolling along the picturesque streets will make you feel as if you were in a fairytale back in time. Every corner is a piece of art by the local craftsmen – carpentry, exquisite wood carving and wrought-iron craft.
Treat yourself to traditional sand coffee and typical Bulgarian desserts at the Dimcho Kehaya Café. The place offers accommodation too and is a must-visit.
You can see the Zheravna Art Gallery, which is hosted in the beautiful building of the old school in the village of 1867. The gallery features permanent exhibits of Bulgarian artist, including the world-known painter Christo Todorov, who was born in Zheravna.
Make sure you visit the Church of St Nicholas, which is hidden behind a high stone wall. The temple keeps one of the most beautiful Christian icons and wood- carved pieces. Built in 1828-1834, the church is still operational.
An interesting spot for the foreign tourists will the House-Museum of Yordan Yovkov – a beloved Bulgarian writer (1880 – 1937). The short tour of Yovkov’s birthplace will give you an idea of what the authentic Bulgarian homes looked like at the time – home décor, traditional clothing, etc., in addition to the story about the writer.
There are other houses with well-preserved interior and exterior architecture, turned into museums, once homes of great Bulgarians: the House of Rusi Chorbadzhi, the House of Sava Filaretov.
Culture-lovers make take a short trip to the small town of Kotel , very close to Zheravna. Kotel is an architectural and historical reserve just like the village of Zheravna, keeping the heritage of the Renaissance in Bulgaria.
The nature around Zheravna is simply stunning. You can go to the Blue Waterfall (‘Sinia vir’ in Bulgarian) in the neighboring village of Medven. The forest path goes along the river and the pleasant walk is no more than 30 minutes, once you reach the edge of Medven. Some tours even offer canyoning on the river of Medven, if you are an adventure fan.
What to consider? Useful tips.
If you plan visiting Zheravna in the 2nd half August, you must book your room well in advance. There is a huge event held annually around that time – the Zheravna Festival of the National Costume. Actually, this may be the most spectacular thing to witness if you happen to be there. The festival celebrates the Bulgarian traditions and is a kind of ‘going back to the past’ experience. Everyone should be dressed in a folk costume to attend the festival area with the nightfall, which is a in the green hills outside the village. Bulgarian folklore rituals, music and …a lot of folk dances, will make it a night to remember. All objects of modern life are prohibited to give the fullest possible authenticity of the event.
Photo Gallery of Zheravna