Town of Kardzhali is located in the low eastern part of Rhodope Mountains, on both banks of the Arda River between the Kardzhali Dam to the west and the Studen Kladenets dam to the east. The town is situated 250 km southeast of Sofia city, 100 km from town of Plovdiv, 81 km from town of Asenovgrad, 66 km from Dimitrovgrad and only 15 kilometers from Momchilgrad. It has a crossroad position from Thrace to the Aegean Sea - part of European transportation route 9.
Considerable amounts of investment has been attracted to this town in order to build many industrial, building and trade companies. Thus it has turned into an economic center of Kardzhali District.
Population is about 43 800 people.
The location of Kardzhali has been inhabited since the Neolithic. Plenty of artifacts have been found during the archaeological excavations comprising ceramics and primitive tools. Most of them are now exhibited in the local museum of history.
There are many stone castles and palaces the Thracians built in the region - Perperek, Ustra, Vishegrad. The most magnificent is Perperikon where a residence of a Thracian king was situated. The place is getting more popular as archaeological works are in progress and new artifacts are being discovered.
The town developed because of its position on the trade roads during the Ottoman rule. However, it remained a small town with almost no industry. During the 18th century Turkish brigands used this remote town as a hide-away and supply point, and as a result such gangs came to be called 'kurdzhali'. The best known of these gangs was led by Pazvantoğlu Osman Pasha who ruled most of northeastern Bulgaria and the Danube estuary until 1807.
Kardzhali has an ethnically mixed population of about 51 000 (2006 est.). Almost the entire population of Kardzhali was made up of Turks until 1913. Later, Bulgarian immigrants from Eastern and Western Thrace and Roma people settled in Kardzhali.
Formerly Kardzhali was a tobacco processing center, but for economic reasons some of the communist era industrial plants are no longer operative. The large deposits of lead and zinc ore in the area make the town an attractive location for the metallurgy and machine building industry.
Retail trade and services constitute the largest share of local production. The abundance of cultural and natural sights in the area also make it a promising area for tourism.
The Thracian town of Perperikon is in the Eastern Rhodope range, some 10 miles from the town of Kurdzhali. The roads from Sofia, via Asenovgrad or Haskovo, are fairly good and well maintained. Perperikon is perched on a rocky peak at 1,400 ft above sea level guarded at its foot by the village of Gorna Krepost [high castle]. The gold-bearing river Perpereshka flows nearby forming a valley some 7 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. This fertile sheltered place had attracted settlers in very ancient times, and today, dozens of sites clustered around the natural hub of Perperikon reveal layer upon layer of archaeological remains. Just a little further downstream, the Perpereshka flows into the artificial lake of Stouden Kladenets on the river Arda. Where the two bodies of water meet, is the village of Kaloyantsi, a scenic place with some tourist facilities.
The monastery of John the Precursor from 11th century is located in the Vesselchane Quarter of the town. It was renovated in 2000 and a new bell tower was built.
The town clock is unique in Bulgaria because it sounds Bulgarian revolutionary songs every hour.
The Kardzhali Museum of History has one of the most extensive exhibitions in Southern Bulgaria. This includes pre-historic tools and ceramics from the Thracian cities of Perperikon and Tatul, Christian icons and ethnographic exhibits. It is located in the old konak (the Turkish town-hall built around 1870) with its period exterior architecture.
There are many open-air restaurants, offering a variety of drinks and cocktails in summer time on the dam. It is a popular place among fans of water sports and fishing.
The town has two drama theaters - Dimitar Dimov and Kadrie Lyatifova, a puppet theater and a museum of history medrese, as well as an art gallery.
Five kilometers from Kardzhali, near the village of Zimzelen, is a small badlands, where a series of white pillars have eroded out of the volcanic tuff which are referred to as the "Kardzhali Pyramids". Ensembles have been given names based on resemblences. One is known as "The Mushrooms" and another as the "Stone Wedding".
There are two large dams on the Arda River. Studen Kladenez Dam is on the east and Kurdzhali Dam is on the south. The reservoir of the Kurdzhali Dam was recently seeded artificially with European perch. The fish were taken from the Ovčarica (Ovcharitsa) dam.
The first historical moment of the dam was in the 1970s, when it was artificially seeded with sheatfish. Nowadays there are 100 kg representatives. Later, 45,000 carp were introduced into the dam as well.
Sources: official web-site of town of Kardzdali