Momchilovtsi, Bulgarian recipe for a happy life

United by their love for traditional Bulgarian music

Dutch couple, Mees Muller and Celine van Dulken, have told a fascinating story in a fluent Bulgarian language. They were interviewed once by the Bulgarian National TV for a documentary first aired in 2017 (source:

Celine and Mees, proud residents of Momchilovtsi, have put this tiny Bulgarian village on the world map. Celine speaks fondly of Bulgarians, describing them as very warm and kind people. Before settling in Momchilovtsi, She had a successful career in the Netherlands, teaching Dutch and French, and working as a tour guide at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, Mees dedicated many active years to the Wageningen University, working as a professor at the department of Experimental Zoology. In 2021, he established a Physical Biology Institute nowhere but here in Momchilovtsi. The institute aims to inspire students and teachers to engage in scientific research and trials, providing valuable laboratory experience, a crucial step towards professional qualifications.

Their friendship spans over 40 years, fueled by their shared love for traditional Bulgarian music. The retired Dutch professor has mastered the art of the Bulgarian Bagpipe, an instrument deeply rooted in the Bulgarian folklore. Alongside Mees, Celine sings traditional Bulgarian songs with the grace of a skilled professional. Together, they have performed the well-known song “Bela sam, bela yunache”. This iconic piece defines the spirit of the Rhodope mountains.

Embark on an adventure at “Momchil Yunak” lodge

Lodge near Momchilovtsi

The next stop on our Momchilovtsi itinerary is the award-winning mountain lodge “Momchil Yunak”. This place is the fruit of hard work of an international couple Nicoleta from Momchilovtsi and Uriel from Argentina. It is located is in the western part of Rhodopes mountains, known as Prespa. The area is elevated 1,680 m above sea some 15 km from the village of Momchilovtsi.

The site comprises of the main two storey building, that dates to 1940, with a total of 20 beds. And there are two additional bungalows, providing another 16 beds for a much-needed rest after a long walk. Finally, there is a tasty kitchen menu, popular with their guests. Visitors can enjoy magical views of the surrounding area all-year-round. Skiing and snowboarding are an exciting opportunity during winter months at the nearby Kartola sports center.

In 2023, “Momchil Yunak” won the prestigious award Best Lodge in Bulgaria in the “Best Cuisine” category. This year too the nominations are coming in from right, left and center. It is a testimony to the hard work of Nika and Uriel. Both the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) and the Association of “Mountains and People” (APH) stand by “Momchil Yunak” in the category “Best Lodge accessible by car” and another more familiar category “A lodge with the best cuisine”.

One of the highlights on their menu is a traditional Argentinian dish “Pastel De Papa” (or in English, Potato and Ground Beef Pie), the Bulgarian version of this dish is known as “Moussaka”. If you are a pizza-loving fan try the oven baked Argentinean pizza with Boletus mushrooms.

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of the Rhodope mountains, the “Momchil Yunak” Lodge is a haven for families seeking a blend of comfort and adventure. Nika and Uriel, have grand visions for the property, aiming to transform it into a vibrant hub for outdoor activities that cater to children of all ages.

Both have a passion for travel that spans continents. A journey that will bring the couple together has been nothing short of extraordinary. Nika’s first stop were the icy expanses of Alaska. Next, there was the all-important visit to California meeting Uriel for the first time and onto more exotic destinations like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Peru. Now, with both of their feet firmly in Bulgaria, they are eager to share their wealth of experiences with fellow travelers, offering tales that will captivate and inspire during cozy evenings by the lodge’s inviting fire.

Join them on their ongoing adventure by booking your stay at “Momchil Yunak” Lodge. Immerse yourself in the stories and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The secret to living a long and happy life

According to some studies there is a higher-than-average proportion of centenarians who live in Momchilovtsi and the surrounding area. One reason for that is the natural Bulgarian yogurt. It is good for the intestines and a boost for the immune system. The famous milk-based product takes centre stage at the annual Yogurt Festival every year at the beginning of September.

The 2023 edition of the festival saw a variety of performances and events. There was the official opening of the “Museum of Magic” with exhibits from the actor Nencho Ilchev, the “Queen of Yogurt” competition for the ladies, delicious recipes cooked by the chefs from Cheff’s club Smolyan, entertainment for the kids, as well as many live performances with traditional singing and dancing. The village is right at the heart of the Rhodope mountains, and it has its very own Momchilovtsi Bagpipes Band. Excellent musicians widely popular in the whole of the country.

Did you know? Momchilovtsi is named after Momchil Yunak. He was an independent Bulgarian ruler of the Rhodopes and the Aegean region back in the 14th century.

In 2009, representatives of the Chinese company Bright Diary and Food find their way to the village of Momchilovtsi. It was the beginning of a successful partnership. The company started production of a yogurt drink in Shanghai in 2010. The drink is branded “Momchilovtsi” and it achieved annual sales of $100 million. The popularity of Bulgarian yogurt is raising in China, and it starts to attract Chinese tourists back to the village.

Momchilovtsi has become a symbol of good health and long live.

Rhodope Mountains Folk Songs:

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