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Visiting Villa Gella in the Heart of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains

Barbara Angelakis
Barbara Angelakis is travel & culture editor at LuxuryWeb Magazine.
Published: December 11, 2023
Nestled amidst the picturesque Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, Villa Gella offers an enchanting escape into luxury and history. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

Nestled amidst the picturesque Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, Villa Gella offers an enchanting escape into luxury and history. Our journey began with a flight on British Airways from New York, transiting through London, and arriving in Sofia, Bulgaria’s vibrant capital.

Greeted by a sunny day adorned with a clear blue sky and fluffy white clouds, Sofia’s lack of pollution, a legacy of the post-Communist era since 1989, was notably refreshing. The city, a blend of sophistication and modernity, boasts wide boulevards, pedestrian-friendly shopping malls, and the majestic Vitosha Mountain, adding a pastoral touch to the urban landscape.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Quaint streets

Our initial two days were dedicated to exploring Sofia’s rich heritage, including a visit to the National Archaeological Museum. The journey then led us to Villa Gella, our luxurious abode in the Rhodope Mountains for the forthcoming days. The drive was a mesmerizing twist through scenic landscapes, leading us to Gela, a hub for exploring the Thracian highlands and winter ski resorts.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

The road to Villa Gella, narrow and winding, offered limited opportunities to capture the enchanting vistas. We arrived at the Villa, strategically positioned to offer stunning views, and were welcomed with exceptional hospitality, including a delectable dinner featuring fine wines from the local Terra Tangra winery, owned by the villa’s proprietors.

A highlight was an evening with a bagpiper in traditional attire, who shared the fascinating history of the bagpipe, believed to have originated in Thrace. The captivating stories, melodious tunes, and the Hora dance, a Balkan tradition, added a unique charm to our stay. Among the performances was “Izlel-ye-Delio-Haidutin,” a folk melody famously included on the Voyager space probes’ Golden Record.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Villa Gella, a family-run, full-service destination, served as our gateway to exploring Thrace, the legendary birthplace of Dionysus, the God of wine. The National museum in Sofia showcased Thracian goldsmiths’ exquisite ancient works. Our adventures also included visits to the “cave of Orpheus,” the Devil’s Throat cave, and the renowned Orthodox Rila Monastery.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Classic architecture, scrumptious food

The villa itself is a marvel, spanning three floors with six en-suite double bedrooms, each uniquely themed and adorned with terraces, fireplaces, and breathtaking mountain views. Our Oriental-themed suite boasted king-sized beds, antique furniture, and thoughtful amenities including rose essence products, reflecting Bulgaria’s national flower.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

The communal areas include a spacious sitting/dining room with panoramic mountain views, a terrace for outdoor dining, a cozy library, and a wellness area with an indoor pool and steam room.

The villa’s design exudes understated luxury, evident in the reclaimed wood, stone fireplaces, and art pieces. The cuisine, fresh and authentically Bulgarian, is served with gracious hospitality, enhancing the experience.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Beyond the comforts of the villa, the region offers diverse activities for all seasons: skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, spelunking, and relaxation in natural hot springs. Sightseeing highlights include a chapel restored by local teen Nikola Beevskie, whose dedication and talent are awe-inspiring.

Villa Gella, available for weekly rentals or as a boutique hotel, is an ideal destination for business meetings, family gatherings, or a serene getaway.

For more information, visit: or email: [email protected].