Bulgaria / FYRO MacedoniaBulgaria / FYRO MacedoniaBulgaria / FYRO MacedoniaBulgaria / FYRO MacedoniaBulgaria / FYRO Macedonia

Bulgaria / FYRO Macedonia

From Kjustendil the trail continues towards Blagoevgrad. Heading east, you can already see the foothills of the Rila Mountains on the horizon and shortly after Nevestino you cross the Kadin Bridge, 100 metres in length, over the river Struma. The bridge is a historic monument, combining eastern and central European architectural elements with Renaissance influences. Parts of the bridge date back as far as 1470.

After crossing the river, you continue through Dragodan to the university town of Blagoevgrad, which is situated at the centre of southwest Bulgaria and is also the site of the American University in Bulgaria. The town was built on the site of the old Thracian settlement of Skaptopara and developed into a major trading and commercial centre in the mid-18th and early 19th century.

The trail then leads into the territory of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. You cross the border at Delcevski Prohod, which lies at an altitude of 1,085 metres. Then you continue through a wide valley towards Berovo. Some distance away you may see the Golak mountain, which is 1,536 metres high. It is worth stopping off at Lake Berovo near the town of the same name.

You now cycle through fields and meadows heading south towards the town of Strumica. The road is steep at times, but it winds through picturesque hills and offers wonderful views. You also have to tackle the Prevedena pass at an altitude of 1,167 metres. When you finally reach Strumica, you will find it a surprisingly lively place after the rather quiet town of Berovo. This region is of great historical importance as the site of early settlements dating back as far as 7,000 B.C.

Onwards towards Petric you return to Bulgarian soil.

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  • 1,167 m altitude
    of Prevedena pass
  • 7 000 BC
    early settlements
    in Strumica region


  • Mountain Communities, FYRO Macedonia

    Life in the mountain villages of the Delcevo Pehchevo region is changing rapidly at the moment. The rural population is declining as people move to urban areas and Western Europe, demanding better living conditions. Consequently, many traditional houses are being left empty. The situation changes briefly during the summer months, when people originally from these mountain villages return to spend their summer vacations there. Photo credit: Katerina Vasileva

  • Strumitsa, FYRO Macedonia

    On the Macedonian part of the Trail, the road passes through one of FYRO Macedonia’s biggest cities: Strumitsa where more than 50,000 people live. In the surrounding villages lie numerous hidden treasures, including the byzantine Holy Mother of God Eleusa Church and the red brick Orthodox Monastery St. Leontius in the little village of Strumica. These monuments are well worth a 7km tour. Photo credit: Rašo

  • Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

    Rila Monastery is indisputably one of the masterpieces of religious architecture in the Balkans. Founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, an Orthodox hermit, this monastery was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862 and is nowadays a splendid example of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Located in a beautiful natural area, the building with its dramatic colours and columns and its wonderful frescos is a must see on the Iron Curtain Trail. Photo credit: Raggatt2000

  • Smolari Waterfall, FYRO Macedonia

    Smolari Waterfall is the longest constant waterfall in FYRO Macedonia with a height of 38m. It is found on the River Lomnica as it makes its way down the Belasica Mountain close to the village of Smolari. To reach the waterfall there is a 580m path, which includes 300 rock stairs and a small wooden bridge. At the bottom of the waterfall there is a footprint-shaped hole in the rock which is named 'Marko’s foot'. According to the legend, this footprint was left by King Marko’s horse, Sharec, when they were resting here.

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The stages