The city of Chepelare is located in the central part of the Rhodope Mountains. Chepelare is the highest city in Bulgaria – 1100 m above sea level.
The area around Chepelare has been inhabited since antiquity – objects and necropolises from Neolithic, mound necropolises, etc. have been discovered. In the 5th-6th centuries, the Slavs founded here a settlement that existed until the 14th century when it was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks.
The modern settlement was founded in the beginning of the 18th century. After the liberation from Ottoman domination (1878), Chepelare developed as a cultural and educational center in the region of the Middle Rhodopes.
Chepelare is known as one of the winter resorts of Bulgaria. Chepelare ski centre is located immediately after the end of the town on the way to Pamporovo. The town has long traditions in skiing. The ski slopes and ski runs of the centre are 20 km long. The tracks are of varying length and difficulty and are suitable for both advanced and beginner skiers and snowboarders. There is a four-seat lift for skiers, which takes the distance of 2700 m from the starting point of the station in Chepelare to Mechi Chal peak for 9 minutes.
Chepelare can visit the only ski museum in Bulgaria that opens in 1998. The museum’s exposition tracks the development of ski and skiing in the city and the country. Visitors can learn interesting facts about some of the most successful winter sportsmen in the country – Ekaterina Dafovska, Borislav Kiryakov, Mitko Hadzhiev and others.
At Chepelare is also the Museum of the Rhodope Karst – the only one of its kind on the Balkans. It features unique exhibits – various minerals, crystals, leopard lower jaw – an animal inhabiting the area in the past, as well as a restored skeleton of a cave bear reaching a height of 4.5 m. Of interest to tourists is also the temple “St. Athanasius the Great”, built in 1834 for only 40 days. One of the pleasant places to relax in the city is the Olympic Square.
In the winter the Chepelare region and the nearby resort of Pamporovo are suitable destinations for skiers and snowboarders. For the rest of the year, the area of picturesque villages in the Rhodope Mountains offers opportunities for rural and ecotourism.