The Martinitsa shelter

Martinitsa shelter is built in the mountain above the village of Martinovo, in the Northwestern Bulgaria, several kilometres west of the town of Chiprovtsi.

Inside it there is a bunk bed for about 12 people, a wood-burning stove and a table. When we last visited the place it was well-tended, clean and soon after we lit the fire - warm. The area is beautiful and fairly well preserved. For many years this part of the Balkan Mountains was more or less closed for outsiders because of its very closeness to the once well guarded national border. Nowadays, though the Iron curtain is long time gone, before visiting the place you still need to call the border police. After all the border is just few hundred metres southwest up the the slope at the top of the main ridge.

A convenient starting point for a hike up to the shelter is the village of Martinovo. To get there you need to first travel to the town of Chiprovtsi. This small Bulgarian town is itself an interesting destination. Once it was a rich cultural and economical centre famous with its skilled goldsmiths and carpet makers. Many examples of their mastership can be seen in the local historical museum.

Whenever you are ready to continue on your way to Martinitsa, you need to cross the river and go westward following the asphalt road towards the village of Martinovo. Once you reach its outskirts don’t turn left but look for the road that rounds the village and continue further up along the river. Soon you will get to the end of the asphalt road. A dirt road starts here and it continues along the river slowly gaining high. It crosses the river several times but after the third bridge you need to look for another path that goes to the right climbing now more steeply the eastern slope of the ridge on top of which the shelter is built. Be careful - soon after you have left the river behind there will be a small trail which stems from the main path and goes straight up the hill. The section that comes is very steep but not that long and soon the trail will get out of the forest and waling will become easier. Once again you will reach a dirt road. Turn right and follow it. Very soon it reaches the top of ridge from where the shelter is few hundred metres to the left.