Hidden from prying eyes and surrounded by steep mountain slopes, the Devil’s Bridge near Ardino has been rising over the raging waters of the Arda River since the beginning of the 16th century. Over the centuries, various legends and mystical stories have been associated with it, and today it is among the most visited tourist places in the area!
Where is located and how to get there
It is located in the Eastern Rhodopes, 42 km from Kardzhali and only 9 km from Ardino. The road between the two towns is in good condition, and from the latter you take to the deserted village of Dyadovtsi and drive to the end of the asphalt road. It ends in a slightly widened area where you can leave the car and continue to the bridge on foot. The distance is covered in about 15 minutes and isn’t burdensome. There is a crossing point next to the bridge itself and an entrance fee of 2 BGN (1 euro).
More about Devil’s Bridge
Today’s bridge was built on the remains of an ancient Roman one, located on the former Via Ignatia road, connecting the White Sea and Thrace. Wanting to improve trade relations between the regions, the Ottoman Sultan Selim I ordered the construction of a bridge over the Arda River, which was difficult to cross when it was full of water. This turned out to be a very difficult task for all who dared to start construction, until the master Dimitar from the village of Nedelino appeared, who managed to cope! The facility itself is extremely impressive. The structure is three-arched, with additional openings for the passage of water when the river is full, its length is 56 m, the width is 3.5 m, and the height at the highest central point is almost 12 m!
Legends and mysticism
The main legend is related to the construction of the bridge itself. It says that many craftsmen failed and it was impossible to build a bridge over the raging waters of Arda… Then the Devil appeared to master Dimitar from Nedelino and revealed to him the secret of sustainable building, setting him a condition to depict his face, which was both visible and invisible… both touchable and not… And for 40 days! The master managed to do it, but soon after its completion he died and with him the secret disappeared…
You may also hear about a young Bulgarian girl who fled from a local Ottoman leader who wanted to make her part of his harem. She reached the highest point of the bridge, ready to sacrifice herself, when the Turks pursuing her were as if numb, seeing the image of the Devil in the reflection under the bridge… They fled in terror, and the girl was saved.
The third legends I have heard mentions a young maiden who brought food to the master. He built her shadow into the bridge, which is why it has remained strong over the centuries. Shortly after the construction was completed, the girl died…
There are probably many more… Like the fact that one of the stones shows a footprint of the devil’s foot or the exposed hexagon (Solomon’s seal) on the central vault and its connection with demons… You can forget for a moment about the mystique surrounding it and just enjoy the walk around it!