Smolyan is a tiny and picturesque town in the heart of the Rodope Mountains, with predominant mountainous relief and the average altitude of 1,230 meters. This magnificent town enchants visitors with interesting combination of old and modern architecture, and pleasant climate influenced by the majesty of the great mountain chain. Smolyan is just 15 kilometers away from the world famous ski – resort of Pamporovo and 260 km south of Sofia and 103 km south of Plovdiv. The municipality of Smolyan borders with Greece to the south and municipalities of Devin to the west, on Laki and Chepelare to the north and with Banite to the east.

The town of Smolyan is famous for its history. According to archaeological evidence, the area was first settled in the 2nd-1st millennium BC. It acquired its name from the Slavic tribe of the Smolyani. As the part of the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires during the Middle Ages, Smolyan was ruled in the 14th-century by the Bulgarian feudal lord Momchil, before being entirely subjugated by the Ottoman Empire. The area of Smolyan was liberated in 1912, during the First Balkan War. The modern town of Smolyan was formed in 1960 by the merger of three existing villages — Ustovo, Raykovo and Ezerovo. During the Ottoman rule, the local people were subject of pursuit to change their belief and just a few of them survived in the mountain.

In the Regional historical Museum of Smolyan, in various halls which cover 1300 sq m, are exposed archaeological artifacts and tools of the various historical epochs, traditional festive costumes and Kukeri costumes, samples of shepherd’s woodcarving, old fabrics woven on old looms.  The collections of the Smolyan Museum testify on the lifestyle and routine of locals who settled the Rhodopes several thousands years ago. The permanent exhibition are located in separate halls, enabling visitors to go through thematic displays as along the time machine of various epochs, traditions and customs. Besides all items, visitors can learn about the festive dining of the Rhodope region.

Since time immemorial every year at the beginning of August local families have gathered on the Ilinden Meadows near Gela Village in the Rhodopes to chat and rejoice. The tradition has been kept alive until this day and it has preserved the songs of the Rhodope Mountains. This centuries-old tradition played crucial role for the conception of the idea and the setting up of a bagpipe contest on these meadows. The goal of the Bagpipe festival is to promote authentic Rhodope folklore.

There are numerous interesting historical monuments preserved in the cozy town of Smolyan. Visitors can explore several preserved houses from the National Revival period – such are Mermovata, Pridasova and some others. The arc bridge (Beiska kupria) over Cherna River (the Black River) was built in the 18th century. The natural reserve “Chinarat” is a 250 year old three. Smolyan is surrounded by numerous interesting sites, that deserve to be visited. The Smolyan Lakes are known as “the emerald eyes of the Rodope Mountains”, and are situated just 3 km away from the city. From total of 20 lakes of Smolyan in the past there are only 7 lakes nowadays. Smolyanski Lakes are protected area with splendid landscape – mountain lakes surrounded with coniferous forests, variedmarsh plant life and animals. The whole region of Smolyan forms a natural park of forests, meadows, hotels, chalets, chapels, lanes, open-chair lift to Mt. Snezhanka /Pamporovo/, picturesque vertical rocks. Smolyan Waterfall is 20 meters high and is in the immediate surroundings south-west of the town. Close to the city of Smolyan more than 20 caves can be explored. The late-antique and medieval castle near the Koshnitsa village is situated on conical peak of marble limestone /1006 meters/ which is pierced by a cave in north-south direction. The Kaleto fortress and the peak can be reached going through the cave only. There is evidence that the site was used as a sanctuary, and transformed into a fort in early Chalcolithic period /5th-4th century BC/. The Kaleto castle has existed since Byzantine times and its purpose was to guard the route of the Central trans-Rhodopean route in the Middle Rhodopes.

Shiroka laka Village is located in the Rhodopes, 23 km northeast of Smolyan and 16 km away from Pamporovo. The name of the village derives from the old Bulgarian word “laka” – curve, bend, meander. Shiroka laka was founded in the 17th century and has now become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria. The village has preserved its architecture from the Bulgarian Revival Period, its musical culture, beautiful landscapes, and rich history.

Shiroka laka is famous for its beautiful, authentic Rhodope houses that lie amphi-theatrically on both sides of the river. The local master builders were well-known throughout the country. The old houses have the typical traits of the Rhodope architectural style – they are two storey-buildings with bay-windows and an internal wooden staircases. Most of the rooms are spacious, with wooden couches against the walls and small windows. The most famous representatives ones are Sgurovska House, Uchikovska House, and Grigorovska House. The village is also renowned for the folklore traditions it has preserved. Some of the most eminent singers and bagpipe-performers of Rhodope folklore songs were born in this village. The National School of Folk Arts was established in Shiroka laka in 1972.