Exploring Mezek: From Antiquity to Middle Ages

The Fortress of Mezek.
The tiny village of Mezek is located on the Silk Road route, in the border area of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. It lies in the region of Svilengrad in Bulgaria. For many years the name Mezek has been associated with a wine brand by a local producer. Recently, the historical sites were opened to tourists thanks to European funding projects aiming at the restoration of cultural monuments. So what is it that is so important to see there?

The Thracian Tomb

Hidden under a mound a few kilometers away from the village is the Thracian tomb dating from IV century B.C. The tomb was first excavated in the 1930s, but only in the recent years is has been turned into a sightseeing destination. With its length of nearly 30 meters and height of 4.5 meters, it is one of the largest tombs found in the Balkans. Some of the jewelry and pottery discovered within is displayed in hologram images along the hallway. They are so realistic that at first, I thought they are the real artifacts. The road to the tomb is aligned by paintings, telling key stories from the Thracian and Greek mythologies.
The chamber of the Thracian Tomb.
The chamber of the Thracian Tomb.

 

Hologram representation of the jewelry discovered inside the tomb.
Hologram representation of the jewelry discovered inside the tomb.
I’ve passed by the area on several occasions, but I never went up to the village until a few weeks ago. Finally, I had a spare afternoon to look around. Although the weather wasn’t great, the clouds and the sporadic rain contributed to the mystic atmosphere. I was delighted to find out that there are joint tickets allowing entrance at both sites – the tomb and the fortress.
The hallway leading to the chamber.
The hallway leading to the chamber.

 

Road paintings on the way to the tomb.
Road paintings on the way to the tomb.

 

Gardens by the ticket entrance.
Gardens by the ticket entrance.

The Mezek Fortress

Located upon the hill overlooking the village are the remains of the Fort of Mezek. The Fort was used as such by nearly all civilizations inhabiting the area as early as several millennia BC. There are no written records about who the original settlers were, but historians reached an agreement about its use by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos in the late 11th and early 12th century. Several of the nine towers are preserved, so you can easily imagine how it looked back in its prosperous years.
The village of Mezek. A view from the fortress.
The village of Mezek. A view from the fortress.
Nowadays, there are numerous attractions in the open area surrounding the fort, such as archery grounds, medieval dress-up stall, ground chess and others. These make it suitable for families with children, as there are plenty of activities for kids, while adults chill out and enjoy the view.
The Fortress of Mezek.
The Fortress of Mezek.

 

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Inside the tower.
Inside the tower.

 

In the courtyard.
In the courtyard.

 

Attractions around the fortress.
Attractions around the fortress.

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Other attractions nearby

If you plan to spend more than a day in the region, there are numerous other activities you can try, such as hiking up the Sheinovets Peak or gambling in Svilengrad. The Rhodope Mountains provide amazing panoramas to nature-lovers, whereas the border town of Svilengrad welcomes gamblers from Turkey, where casinos are prohibited. Also, those willing to explore further can travel to Ivaylovgrad and the nearby villages.

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