Rhodopa

Original version
According to ancient legends Rhodopa was a beautiful young lady, adored by all – men and gods. Everybody wanted her for his wife and was trying to steal her for himself. God Hemus was particularly jealous. He did not want anyone else to look at Rhodopa and started throwing stones in order to make hills, which to hide her from humans and Gods. These hills are now the hills of the city of Plovdiv. They were not sufficient though. The news about Rhodopa’s beauty traveled far and wide. Men and gods came to see her and immediately fell in love with her. Fury and jealousy took Hemus and he turned her into a mountain.
Alternative versions
Another legend says that Rhodopa saved Orpheus - the famous singer, who enchanted all with his voice and songs. One day Orpheus fell asleep in the mountain after hard day of work. But while being asleep a monster snake with three heads and poisonous tongues wanted to eat him. Rhodopa saw that and rolled some rocks near Orpheus to wake him up. He woke up and seeing the monstrous snake he started to sing. He sang for 3 days and the snake was enchanted and rolled back in her hole without eating him. He remained living in the Rhodopa mountain because he was captured by her beauty and her "noble heart" that saved him from the monster.
Main characters
Gods, beautiful woman, mountain
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
the Rhodopes mountain range ; natural sites. The name of the Rhodope Mountains is translated as a "mountain of richly flowing rivers" and derives from the reconstructed ancient name of Rudapa. It also translates into rivers and high water comes ru- Indo-European root for running water and Thracian daphas - paalnovodie, flood. In the past the Rhodope rivers have been overflowing with water and lacking soil erosion. Massive felling, much smaller than now, was undertaken only at the time of the construction of the Roman roads. In the second millennium before the New Age, the Thracian civilization began in the Rhodope Mountains. Many fortresses, settlements, necropolises and sanctuaries have been discovered. Surrounded by mysterious legends and traditions, somewhere in the Rhodope Peaks there is an undiscovered sanctuary of the Greek god Dionysius. The Rhodope Mountains are also the birthplace of the main hero of Thracian mythology - the mythical Rhodope singer Orpheus, not only famous for its musical work, but also for its bewildered heroes and people, but its incredible healing skills.
Local traditions or historical connections
The legend is connected with the beauty of the mountain range and the fact that there is no peak from which you can see its entire body, even if mountaineers keep trying to find such a spot. The greatest number of strategic roads have been made by the Romans in the Eastern Rhodopes. Very few valleys do not have such roads. Only in the Rhodope Mountains the Romans built bridges. Their construction, in which the stones are suing the weight of each other to press and keep the structure, was also used by the Bulgarian masters of bridges. There is a preserved section of a Roman highway near the village of Bivolyane, where today there is a madrasse. In this region is the Thracian sanctuary Harmankya. This is the only Roman road in Bulgaria with a width of 4 meters, fully preserved. It passes under the Thracian sanctuary Karpuzdere and transfers the ridge.
Didactical Relevance
The legend can be relevant to literature or philosophy classes and it can be used by teachers and students to discuss topics about love, jealousy, anger, beauty. The legend can be discussed among students to ask them analyse the motives of all characters in the legend, to analyse how beauty which is said “to save the world” caused such tragic events, how love and jealousy live together in human heart, etc. Rhodopa is cosnidered to be one of the most magical and beautiful places in Bulgaria, worth visiting with numereous historical sites, interessting natural and architectural monuments from ancient times, legends and beliefs that even nowadays are told and rituals done by the local people. In Bulgaria it is said that if you stay outside in the dark in the Rhodopa mountain there will always be a person to help you and ofer you a roof over your head. So the beauty of the mountain is also in the beauty of hearts of people that live there.
Didactical Activity
As a didactic activity teachers can organize an excursion to visit the place or to watch the video attached (EN subs are available) and again discuss the main topics, which it talks about. Teachers can aslo organize a comparative analysis of legends of mountains formation between countries and see what are the main characters and if they are similar.

Video

The Rhodope - the Mountain of Orpheus

Images

Rhodopa mountains 1
Rhodopa mountains

External Sources

The website contains thorough information about the Rhodopa mountain, the legends connected with it, the sites (natural phenomena and architectural sites) that can be visited.
The website is in Bulgarian language, but is one of the best sources of information for the mountain and can be used with Google translate.

PDF version of the legend in national language

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