During a trip to the south-western part of Bulgaria, we discovered the Stob Earth Pyramids. They are rock formations, known as hoodoos, situated at the foothills of the Rila mountain range.
The pyramids are 30-40 meters thick and 6-10 meters high, reaching a height of 12 meters in some places. Some of the pyramids are pointed and needle-like, while others are round and topped with sandstone “hats” having dimensions of 120/80 cm. and resembling giant mushrooms. Their bases are wide and often joined to neighboring formations.
They were formed in a river glacier trail, accumulated at the foot of the mountain – a layer that once covered the alpine parts of Rila in the Ice Age. The soil composition and weak cohesion determine the accelerated erosion here, which is why some pyramids are destroyed over time, while others are formed continuously. The wind, the rains, and the sun have been at work for thousands of years creating a fairytale out of a plain hill.
They are arranged in picturesque ways, and many of the formations have been given names – the Towers, The Hammers, The Wild Woman’s Chimneys, The Snaggle-tooths, the Brothers, The Wedding Couple, and so forth.
Like many of the landmarks in Bulgaria and this place is linked to several legends about their origin and names. Stories interweave a maternal oath, an intoxicating beauty, and an impossible and tragic love…
One story is about a wedding, between a girl from the Stob village and a boy from another nearby settlement called Kolibite. At old times, marriages were arranged and no one was supposed to see the bride before the end of the ceremony. When the wedding procession from Stob village started their journey to the groom’s house, a wild wind took away the veil of the bride-to-be while they were passing over the place, where today we can see the pyramids. The beauty of the future bride was so incredible they say, that the best man couldn’t restrain himself and tried to kiss her. Stunned by the sin he was about to commit the entire wedding procession turned into stone figures which we can now see. If you look at some of them closely, you will notice that they seem to be wearing hats.
In another one, a man and a woman from the nearby village were getting married. The celebration had already started when the father of the groom cast his eyes upon the bride and immediately fell in love with her. He was about to ruin the wedding when suddenly the earth started shaking, a terrible noise filled the air and all of a sudden everybody turned into rocks.
According to another legend, the mother of the groom disapproved of the marriage and cast a spell on the young lovers. When the groom kissed the bride for the first time, everyone turned into solid rocks.
The last one depicts the doomed love between a Bulgarian girl and a Turkish boy who were in love but could never marry because of their different religions. To avoid a union, the groom’s family killed him. Inconsolable, the girl threw herself off the rock, and on this spot a pyramid formed which was called Neviastata (‘The bride”).
So, which one do you believe?