River Mesta, Rodopis, Bulgaria © Nikos Kanellopoulos
In the heart of the Rhodope Mountains lies the picturesque village of Momchilovtsi, a popular cultural and ethnographic centre that has preserved its original folklore, traditions and crafts. The Centre for Traditional Bulgarian Arts and Crafts provides a unique opportunity for visitors to attend courses to learn about and participate in traditional crafts like folk dancing, weaving, woodcarving, cooking, music and various artistic handicrafts. In winter it is a popular base from which to visit the famous ski resort of Pamporovo, which is only four miles (7km) away, and the surrounding mountains and rivers offer superb hiking, caving, trout fishing and hunting. The village is set in truly beautiful surroundings and many use a holiday here as a retreat from the bustle of city life; like a number of other areas in Bulgaria, Momchilovtsi is known for its clean air and promoted as a good spot for health and rehabilitation holidays. There are 24 churches and chapels in the village and its immediate vicinity, including the famous SS. Constantine and Helen Church, built in 1836. The village offers a number of guided walking tours which help visitors make the most of the local scenery and nearby attractions.