Brashlyan village: rustic idyll, ageless beauty, and a rich history

Today I will take you for a walk in the village of Brashlyan, Bulgaria, one of the remarkable places we saw during two of our visits to the Strandzha Mountains. It is a peaceful and picturesque village that has been around for a long time.

 Village of Brashlyan, Bulgaria
Village of Brashlyan, Bulgaria

How to get to Brashlyan, Bulgaria

The village of Brashlyan (say [brash’ljan]) is located about 15 km north of Malko Tarnovo and 62 km south of Burgas. It is close to the main road between Malko Tarnovo and Burgas. There are clearly visible signposts pointing to the village.

The most convenient way to get there is by car. It normally takes less than an hour. You can park in the central part of the village.

You can also use public transport. There are bus lines available from Burgas Bus station β€œWest”, Maritsa 2 str. You can buy tickets onsite or online here. The price is less than 5 EUR.

Things to do in Brashlyan

The village is an architectural and historical reserve. As soon as you enter there, you go back years – all the houses are typical of Strandzha architecture from the 18th-19th centuries, there is no fast rhythm inherent in modern life.

I advise you to start exploring the village from the central part near the church. The place is not big, so you can get known with the main sites there within a couple of hours. However, the cosy atmosphere in the village makes it suitable for a longer stay. There you will find quite a few family hotels and guest houses. You can also eat delicious local specialties.

Saint Dimitar Church

The main landmark in the village of Brashlyan is the church “Saint Dimitar”. It is located on the central square and is a bit dug into the ground. It was built at the end of the 17th century on the site of an ancient Thracian sanctuary, which is supposed to have been dedicated to the god of wine and fertility, Dionysus. A sacrificial marble stone with an inscription in ancient Greek is embedded in the altar space of the temple.

Saint Dimitar Church in Brashlyan, Bulgaria
Saint Dimitar Church in Brashlyan, Bulgaria

Next to the church stands an impressive bell tower, which was built in the first half of the 19th century. 4 years ago, the church was restored with European funds and donations.

The  bell tower
The bell tower

The Cell school

The old cell school is an annex to the church. It has been restored and turned into a museum. When we visited the museum, the woman curator there gave us a very interesting talk about the history of Brashlyan.

Brashlyan village: the church with the cell school
Brashlyan village: the church with the cell school

Already at the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom there was a settlement there in the area, which at the end of the 14th century fell under Ottoman slavery. The current settlement dates back to the end of the 17th or the beginning of the 18th century, when the inhabitants of three villages – Yurtet, Selishte and Zhivak settled in Dolna Mahala – the oldest part of the village. The Turkish name of Brashlyan village was Sarmasik.

The local cell school was established in 1871 by the priest in the church. He turned his cell – the annex of the church – into a school room. It accommodated about 20 children, all of them were boys. There were no chairs, everyone had to bring sheepskins to sit on. At first they learned to write in sandboxes, then on wax boards. Skins, sandboxes and boards can be seen in the museum-school, and the woman curator shows how they were used.

The Cell school inside
The Cell school inside

After the Liberation of Bulgaria, the village of Sarmashik remained under Ottoman slavery. The inhabitants of the village actively participated in the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising, which broke out in 1903 against the Ottoman raiders. The uprising was drowned in blood with many victims, including from the village of Brashlyan.

The village of Sarmashik (Brashlyan) became part of Bulgaria in 1913 after the Balkan War.

The Ethnographic house-museum

The Ethnographic Museum is located close to the small central square. (In fact, everything there is located close to the square πŸ™‚ ). This is an authentic local house about 150 years old. You will probably be impressed by its well preserved architectural and the internal arrangement. The first floor is made of stone, and the second floor is made of wood and adobe.

The Ethnographic Museum in Brashlyan
The Ethnographic Museum in Brashlyan

The visit to the museum starts from the second floor of the house where the owners lived once upon a time. The first area is the bride’s room. There is a bridal dress exposed in the room. It was also used as a guest room, as it was the only one with a bed.

The owners slept on the floor in the adjoining great room. It was also the main room in which they lived. The room has a preserved hearth with an opening to the wall for baking bread.

Brashlyan village: The Ethnographic house-museum
Brashlyan village: The Ethnographic house-museum

Next to the big room there is a storage area with compartments for grain, and next to it is a toilet from that time (I don’t know why, but somehow I am very impressed by old toilets πŸ™‚ ). At the second floor there is also a secret exit – the house was built in turbulent times, when local people had to be almost packed and ready to escape from attacks. Let me remind that the house was built and used during the Ottoman slavery.

The animals, cows and goats, were housed on the first floor. Today it has been converted into a craft workshop. There is a huge loom there that can be seen.

Final thoughts

The village of Brashlyan is interesting because of its typical Strandzha houses and because time seems to have stopped there. In addition, the settlement has rich history. Have a look here to see about a lot more sights in the Strandzha Mountains that are close to the village of Brashlyan.

Explore Bulgaria through exciting day trips from Sofia

If you want to visit some of the most beautiful places in Bulgaria via organized daily tours, have a look here for several options from the biggest Bulgarian provider for day tours from Sofia.

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