The Rhodopes are among the most picturesque mountains in Bulgaria, with virgin nature and breathtaking scenery, a magical place known as the land of Orpheus and a cradle of the civilization of the Thracians. In Greek mythology, Queen Rhodope of Thrace, the wife of King Haemus of Thrace, offended the gods, and was changed into a mountain by Zeus and Hera as a punishment along with her husband.
Below is a video of the area in the Rhodope mountains where the Acem Meditation World Retreat 2021 is arranged.
The Rhodope mountains are associated with the mythic figure of Orpheus.
Orpheus surrounded by animals. Ancient Roman floor mosaic, from Palermo, now in the Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto.
Orpheus is a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion. The major stories about him are centred on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music, his attempt to retrieve his wife Eurydice from the underworld, and his death at the hands of the maenads of Dionysus who tired of his mourning for his late wife Eurydice. As an archetype of the inspired singer, Orpheus is one of the most significant figures in the reception of classical mythology in Western culture, portrayed or alluded to in countless forms of art and popular culture including poetry, film, opera, music, and painting.
Greeks of the Classical age venerated Orpheus as the greatest of all poets and musicians; it was said that while Hermes had invented the lyre, Orpheus had perfected it. Poets such as Simonides of Ceos said that Orpheus’ music and singing could charm the birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and divert the course of rivers. Orpheus was one of the handful of Greek heroes to visit the Underworld and return; his music and song even had power over Hades.
Orpheus and Eurydice. (Carl Andreas August Goos, 1797–1855)
Nymphs listening to the songs of Orpheus. (Charles Jalabert, 1819–1901)