After two consecutive trips to the Rhodope Mountains, I decided to visit Sarnena Sredna Mountain (Sarnena Sredna gora) where one of the most mysterious places in Bulgaria is – Dolmen Plate (Dolmen Plochata). It is considered the largest megalithic structure of this type in Bulgaria and one of the largest dolmens in the Balkans. Curiously, it was registered in the summer of 2015 because this area is one of the least explored in the country, which makes it an attractive place to visit for those who want to escape from the crowds.
How to Get to Dolmen Plate?
Dolmen Plate is located on Plochata peak, part of the Yunchal massif in Sarnena Sredna gora. The starting point for this place is the road to Dondukovo Dam, located just after the small village of Zlatosel. The village is located about 45 km. from Plovdiv, 180 km. from Sofia and about 87 km. from Stara Zagora, which makes it perfect for a day trip from nearby regional cities. 2 km. after the village, to the right of the road, is the beginning of the trail. For the convenience of tourists there are two signs – one for Velkov Grob and the other for Dolmen Plate (Dolmen Plochata). Next to the signs there is a makeshift parking lot where you can park.
Hiking Dolmen Plate
Once you reach the signs you will see that there are two trails. Take the one behind your back when you are facing the signs. There is no trail sign at the beginning, but after walking for a few minutes you will see the first signs in red color and tied rags. At the beginning the road is flat, but afterward it passes through a slightly steep section.
The length of the trail is about 2.6 km, and lasts approximately one hour. The first spot you will reach is Velkov Grob. This is the death place of the voivode Velko Krastev, part of the detachment of Hadzhi Dimitar and Stefan Karadzha.
Continue on the path ahead to reach Dolmen Plate. Once you get there you will be amazed by its huge size – 4.1 by 6.1 meters.
You can climb on it where you can see a stunning view of the Thracian plain. The braver ones can go down to the other rocks. They also offer a fantastic view of the green ocean of trees.
The dolmens are megalithic structures made of large stone slabs. They are associated with religious beliefs, and used as tombs. It is dated from the middle of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st century BC. The entrance to the Dolmen faces east, as the Thracians worshiped the Sun as a God. However, the ruler, who was laid in a tomb can see the whole territory over which he ruled.
Marble Lake (Mramorno ezero)
Only 20 km. from the village of Zlatosel is located the abandoned marble quarry, better known as the Mramorno ezero. The lake is located on the eastern slope of the Bailaka Hill, just before the village of Pravoslav. It can be reached about a kilometer before the village on the left side. You will see a large stone similar to obelisk which serves as a sign. There is 500 meters of dirt road, so you can park somewhere at the beginning. Another option is to get to the very end of the road, where there is a makeshift parking lot. From there you have to walk 200 meters.
The depth of the Marble Lake reaches 20 m. Although bathing is prohibited, there are many enthusiasts who jumped from the rocks at their own risk.
What to Bring
- Comfortable shoes / trainers
- Swimsuit and towel, if you decide to swim in the lake
Dolmen Plate and Marble Lake are the perfect combination if you are looking for a different idea for a day trip in Bulgaria. Both places are not the most popular in the country, but it is definitely worth giving them a chance.