Smolyan Lakes, Bulgaria

Lake Locations:

Bulgaria -

Also known as:  Smolian Lakes, Smolianski Ezera, Smolyanski Lakes, Lake Matno, Lake Bristroto, Lake Blatistoto, Lake Lagot, Ezerov Gyol

Known as the “emerald eyes” of the Rhodope Mountains, the Smolyan Lakes are a series of scenic lakes set in southern Bulgaria close to the border with Greece. Located about six miles (10 kilometers) north of the community of Smolyan (also spelled Smolian) and spreading south of Pamporovo ski resort, visitors come to the area for sightseeing, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing, hunting, bird watching, caving, rock climbing and winter sports.

Named for the Slavic tribe of Smoleni, what may have been as many as 20 Smolyan Lakes (or Smolianski Ezera) now number seven. These natural lakes lie in tiers on an ancient landslide typical of lakes in the central part of the Rhodopes where the rockslide processes continue. The seven lakes are described as small in area and shallow. Some lakes have no water during dry months. The highest and deepest of these lakes is Lake Matno (Muddy Lake) at an elevation of 5,249 feet (1600 meters) and depth of 15 feet (4.5 meters). The largest lake is said to be Lake Bristroto (Clear or Crystal Lake) with about 20 acres sitting at 4,921 feet (1500 meters) along with Lake Blatistoto. The last of the identified lakes are Lake Lagot at 4,757 feet (1450 meters) and, described as a peat bog or swamp, Ezerov Gyol at 4,265 feet (1300 meters).

The beautiful pine forests, lakes and meadows of the Rhodope Mountains are said to have been the home of Orpheus, a name pulled from the pages of Greek mythology. Running approximately 149 miles (240 kilometers) east to west, over 83 percent of the range sits in southern Bulgaria with the remainder continuing into Greece. Claiming an average of 240 sunny days a year, the mild climate of the central Rhodopes is home to the internationally-known ski resort of Pamporovo.

Located seven miles (12 kilometers) north of Smolyan, Pamporovo is Europe’s southernmost ski resort resting on the slopes of 6,319-foot (1926 meter) Snejanka peak. A growing number of resorts, hotels, self-catering chalets, self-catering homes and real estate developments provide a selection of distinctive vacation rentals for leisurely trips to Smolyan Lakes or year around mountain adventures. During summer months the Rhodopes opens its slopes to rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, horse riding, or hiking 217 miles (350 kilometers) of marked trails winding through centuries-old forests. Bird watchers will find more than 200 species inhabiting the lakes, rivers and forests including the wall-creeper, black stork and golden eagle. When ski season begins visitors will find no end to the outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating and ice fishing.

The Smolyanski Lakes are not particularly noted for their fishing but within the surrounding mountains there are numerous lakes, rivers and fish farms where mountain trout, whitefish, carp and perch can be found. Flowing near the town of Smolyan, the Arda River is the longest river in the Rhodopes and is home to barbell and grey mullet.

The region’s beautiful sunny days and clear skies enjoyed by Smolianski Ezera visitors support indoor activities as well as outdoor sports. The area’s starlit nights prompted the construction of Bulgaria’s largest public observatory and planetarium in the Rozhen area near the community of Smolyan. Since opening in 1975 the Smolyan Planetarium has developed lecture series, children’s programs, and a variety of shows (some with translations) attracting a growing number of visitors.

Near Smolyan Lakes and set within Bulgaria’s Smolyan Province, the community of Smolyan is the administrative and cultural capital of the central and western Rhodopes. The population of 33,000 combines the residents of three adjacent villages (Smolyan, Raikovo and Ustovo) that merged under the name of Smolyan in 1960. This historic community dates back to 1572 and has retained its cultural heritage through the invasion of Muslim Turks in the 17th century and continued Turkish rule until 1912. Noted for its mix of historic and modern architecture, a walk through Smolyan is a stroll through an intriguing and often violent history. The older section of Smolyan provides some of the country’s best examples of Bulgarian folkhouses dating from the 1870s. In contrast, a new modern town center was completed in 1983 providing a cultural center with a museum telling the story of the Rhodopes, art galleries displaying the work of local artisans, restaurants serving traditional fare, and intriguing shops to tempt a souvenir shopper.

Found 162 miles (260 kilometers) south of Sofia, the seven small Smolyan Lakes provide a major attraction for the town of Smolyan and the Rhodope Mountains. Lakes of simplicity and beauty, Smolianski Ezera offers a combination of peaceful scenery and recreation within easy driving distance of charming villages and mountain resorts. Whether you come for summer fun or stay to watch the Rhodopes sparkle with snow the hospitality and charm of rural Bulgaria will provide a vacation to remember.

Things to do at Smolyan Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Rock Climbing
  • Biking
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Smolyan Lakes

  • Carp
  • Perch
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Smolyan Lakes Photo Gallery

    Smolyan Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 4,265 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 5,249 feet

    Maximum Depth: 15 feet

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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