The Orlovi Skali, or Eagle Rocks, is the perfect example of a fascinating Thracian site. Situated about 3 km from the city of Ardino, to the left of the road from Kardzhali, this imposing rock is covered with dozens of trapezoid niches, gaping at the Rhodope scenery. 

The sharp, tooth' like rock of Orlovi Skali rises on a steep slope in the fir forest. Its height is hard to tell. Its tallest, western side rises up to 30 m; its northern and southern faces are about 25 m high; and the lowest, to the east, is about 15 m high. 

thracian rock niches

About 100 niches are cut into the rock, most of them dotting the western side. 

Around are the remains of a Thracian shrine, a net of canals and circles hewn into the rocks where once wine and probably blood was poured to feed or appease the Thracian gods. The place has not been archaeologically researched, but the shrine is thought to have appeared sometime around the end of the 2nd Millennium BC. In all likelihood, it was used well through Antiquity.

Today the Eagle's Rock is far from human activity. 

thracian rock niches

But it wasn't always so. Since times immemorial, an important route crossed this part of the Rhodope, connecting the Thracian Plain to the north with the Aegean Sea to the south. The most visible remains of these times is the Ottoman-era Devil's Bridge, near Ardino. The route was abandoned in the late 1940s, when Bulgaria and Greece found themselves on the opposite sides of the Iron Curtain and international travel through the region effectively stopped.

thracian rock niches

41.568186040941, 25.146258845423