The village of Mogilitsa is located along the banks of the Upper Arda River in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains, about 25 km southeast of the town of Smolyan and 250 km from Sofia. It has a transitional Mediterranean climate with a mild and snowy winter and a cool summer.
Mogilista’s most noteworthy attraction is the large feudal castle (konak) known today as the Agush Konaks. The Agush Konaks were built in the 19th century, more precisely in 1843, according to an inscription above the entrance of one of the courtyards. They are the work of Bulgarian masters hired by Agush Aga and his three sons. Agush Aga was among the richest and most influential people in the Rhodope Mountains. His wealth was enormous and constantly grew from his involvement in military operations conducted by the Ottoman authorities. The konaks were built in the course of almost 20 years.
The complex consists of three structures (konaks) with different functions, and occupies an area of about one acre. The residential premises have a total of 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys. Each konak has a patio, a well, master rooms, rooms for servants, drawing rooms, hallways, tunnels and caches. The white walls of the rooms are beautifully painted. The chimneys too are painted in white. The beams and the gates are dark brown. The chimneys are made of hewn stone. The porches are broad. Each konak has a stable, a hayloft, and a barn. The courtyards are separated by interior walls and the three buildings are fenced in by a single wall.
There is a separate building for the women with rotating cupboards built into the tall walls. In this way, the women’s faces remained hidden when conversing or exchanging objects, as the custom required.
There is a tower at the southeastern corner of the courtyard. It had a defensive function with two rows of loopholes in a chess-board order. The roof eaves are decorated with paintings. The interior is made from pine, walnut and cherry wood. The tower resembles a beacon. According to a legend, one of Agush Aga’s sons served in the Ottoman fleet in the Aegean Sea but fell seriously ill and had to return home. He shut himself in the konak. His father built a beacon-shaped tower so that his son could reminisce of his past life in the fleet. Earlier on, the rooms housed items demonstrating old Bulgarian handicrafts: napkins, rugs, bells and jewelry. The rooms where Agush Aga’s family lived are spacious and well-lit, with a fireplace in each of them. The windows have fine wooden grates over them. For reasons unknown, one of the rooms has double doors and walls. That same room has also a special opening for eavesdropping on private conversations in the upper room.
About the time Agush built the konak in Mogilitsa, another smaller but no less beautiful summer konak was erected in the neighboring village of Chereshovo. It was designed as the family’s residence. The construction was commissioned to an original master builder. His name is not known but there is a legend that after the builder completed the konak, he went to Agush Aga to collect his money. To prevent the master from building another beautiful house, however, Agush Aga drew his yatagan and with a single blow cut off the master’s right hand. Today Agush Aga’s heirs have restored their property rights over the konaks. They are not open to visitors and can be viewed only from the outside.
The museum items have been moved out and are under state protection.
The area is a mosaic of beautiful and odorous meadows, lush pastures, and cool deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. Ecotourism is becoming quite popular here because of the combination of pristine nature, living traditions and the warm hospitality of the local folks.
Another site well worth visiting is the so called Kaleto, an ancient fortress located north-west of Mogilitsa . It dates from Thracian times but the Slavs also used it.