The weird and fabulously formed rocks of Belogradchik, Bulgaria, turn fiery red at sunset. Composed of sandstone, limestone, and conglomerate, the formations resulted when ancient seas that covered the area millions of years ago receded. Over time, the sediments that had lain at the bottom of the sea were eroded by wind and water. Legends have sprung up around the rocks, many of which resemble human shapes. Perhaps most famous is “The Madonna.” As the story goes, a beautiful nun breaks her vows after falling in love with a man who rides up on a white horse. Her sin is discovered one sunny day when she gives birth. Determined to banish her, the monks and other nuns chase her out of the monastery. As she flees, day turns to night and the entire procession is turned to rock.
Other formations are said to resemble Adam and Eve, a whirling Dervish, a mushroom, a camel, and a horseman, to name a few. There is, of course, a story around each formation – sometimes more than one. Whether or not the legends about the rocks of Belogradchik have any basis in fact is debatable, but there is no doubt that the formations are gorgeous, especially as the sun sets each night. Belogradchik is located in the northwest corner of the country, slightly less than a three-hour drive from the capital city of Sofia, Bulgaria.