Cherven Castle

Location: 35 km South of Rousse Map

Constructed: 11th century

Cherven Castle


Description of Cherven Castle

Cherven Castle is a Bulgarian medieval citadel located 35 km South of Rousse. Cherven Castle or Red Castle in Bulgarian was constructed in the 11th through 14th century. It replaced Byzantine fortification that was erected here in the 6th century to defend the Empire against invasions of Germanic barbarian tribes. The city and its fortifications reached particular importance during Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In 1235 Cherven becomes the seat of Bulgarian Orthodox Bishopric of Cherven. Besides the Inner Fortifications the city spread all over the mountain top and even beyond the city walls. Its doom came then it was captured by the Turkish troops in 1388 as Ottoman Empire slowly overtook much of the Balkan peninsula. Under new rule it lost its importance and gradually fell in disrepair.



There was an early Byzantine fortress in Cherven from the 6th century. After 1018, when Bulgaria was finally included in the Byzantine Empire, the early Byzantine fortifications on Cherven Hill attracted the attention of the new rulers. The surviving fortress walls were repaired and adapted to fortification requirements. In the history of Cherven during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom there was both a rise and a decline. In 1230 there was a strong earthquake, which caused damage throughout Eastern Europe, and in Cherven, it caused fire and large-scale destruction. . In 1235 the town became the seat of the Medieval Bulgarian Metropolitanate of Cherven. It is known that in the spring of 1242 part of the retreating Tatar army passed along the valley of the river Rusenski Lom, leaving behind a general destruction. In the 13th century, according to Manuel Phil, the Byzantine military leader Michael the Head Tarkhaniot captured the city in a campaign against Tsar Ivailo.

In the 14th century the territory of the town exceeded 1.8 km², with a well-defined infrastructure, including a fortified town, situated on a vast rocky hill along the river Cherni Lom. A number of crafts have been developed: iron mining, iron processing, goldsmithing, construction, arts, household and other crafts, which makes it an important commercial center. At the end of the 14th century, together with the other Bulgarian lands, it fell under Ottoman rule and was devastated. Legends and some historical sources indicate that many of the inhabitants of the large and prosperous city in the Middle Ages migrated to the settlement, known in Roman times as Sexaginta Prista, during the Ottoman rule - Ruschuk, and today - the city of Ruse.

Cherven is the subject of increased interest from both archaeologists and tourists. The first excavations are from 1910/1911 (Prof. Vasil Zlatarski). From 1961, permanent excavations began, which continue to this day. As a result of the archeological excavations were found:

large feudal palace;
fortress walls;
two underground water supply facilities;
16 churches;
public-administrative buildings;
remains of residential buildings;

A fortress tower from the 14th century is completely preserved. Finds from Cherven are stored in the National History Museum in Sofia, the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia and the Regional History Museum in Ruse. Among them stand out several large treasures, including jewelry, epigraphic monuments, pottery, household items and more. Cherven has been declared a National Archaeological Reserve and is one of the most important tourist sites with built infrastructure in the country.

The fortress tower of the medieval Cherven was used as an image in the last series of the fifth season of the Game of Thrones series.