Belogradchik Fortress (Белоградчишка крепост)



Location: Belogradchik, Vidin Province  Map

Open: June-Sept: 8am-9pm

Oct-May: 9am-5pm


Description of Belogradchik Castle

First sections of the Belogradchik Fortress or Kaleto (from Turkish "kale"- fortress) as it is widely known locally was constructed by the Romans in the first century. It sits on the north slopes of the Balkan Mountains guarding a strategic pass in the mountain range. First settlement at current Belogradchik Fortress date back to the Ancient Roman times. First Roman fort was established here in the first century AD. Picturesque Belogradchik rocks provided a logical strategic location for the establishment of a military camp that later became known as Belogradchik Fortress. Belogradchik Cliffs that date to Palezoic Period allowed defenders to spare resources for fortification construction as they naturally served as a barriers against enemy attacks. In some parts it reaches a height of 70 meters (230 feet) above inner courtyard. So military walls and towers were construted only on North- West and South- East direction.
After invasion of the Gothic tribes and disintegration of the Roman Empire the Belogradchik citadel did not loose its importance. In fact quiet the opposite. It grew in size and importance. New owners of the Western Stara Planina (Old Mountains) added new features and new defences to the existing structure all the way till the 19th century. So in 14th century Bulgarian tsar of Vidin Ivan Stratsimir made a new addition fearing the Ottoman invasion. He made Belogradchik Fortress a key stronghold against Ottoman Turkish Empire that eventually captured all of Balkan Peninsula. With its walls and towers it was second in size and sophistication only to the capital of what was remaining from the Bulgarian Kingdom in Vidin, Vidin Castle or Baba Vida.
Over time Belogradchik Castle's fortification defences were strengthened. Its walls measure 2 meter (6.6 feet) thick at the foundation and reaching a height of 12 meters (39 feet). It covers a total area of 10,210 square metres (109,900 square feet).
Initially, the Belogradchik fortress had mainly observation functions, not strictly defensive ones. In the 14th century, Tsar Ivan Sratsimir expanded the old fortification by building fortress garrisons in front of the existing partition rock massifs. During his reign, the fortress became one of the most important fortifications in the region, giving way only to the Vidin fortress, which served as a castle of Sratsimir himself.

During the conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire, the Belogradchik fortress was captured in 1396. During the Ottoman rule, the Turks expanded the fortress due to the increased banditry and revolutionary activity in the area. Real changes in the structure of the fortress were made in the early 19th century.

The extensions of this period show a style typical of Ottoman fortress building. Almost complete reconstruction is being carried out, as well as additional extensions. Typical European elements have also been added to the fortress. This is due to the French and Italian engineers involved in the expansion.

The role of the Belogradchik fortress in the suppression of the Belogradchik uprising of 1850 is important. The fortress was last used in military operations during the Serbo-Bulgarian war in 1885.

The walls of the fortress are over 2 meters thick at the base and reach a height of 12 meters. There are 3 separate fortress courtyards, which are connected by fortress gates. The whole fortress has a total area of ​​10,210 m2.

The fortress was restored after it was declared a cultural monument. It is managed by the management of the Belogradchik Historical Museum. It is part of the Hundred National Tourist Sites. There is a seal.


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