Vidin Castle or Baba Vida

Vidin Castle or Baba Vida

Vidin Castle or Baba Vida (grandma Vida) as it often called is a medieval castle that was built in the end of the 10th century on the banks of the Danube River.



Location: Vidin Map

Constructed: 10th century


Description of Vidin Castle or Baba Vida

Vidin Castle or Baba Vida is a medieval fortress contructed in the 10th century during the First Bulgarian Kingdom (681- 1018). This fortress replaced ruins of the ancient Roman fortress Bononis on this strategic location over Danube river at an elevation of 39 metres (128 feet) above sea level. Its popular name is Baba Vida or Grandma Vida that is a reference to an Bulgarian legends. This story claims that Danubian Bulgarian king divided his kingdom into three parts between his only three daughters: Vida, Kula and Gamza. Vida, the eldest of the three sisters got lands north of the Carpathians along the Danube river. Vidin was made its capital. Kula got Zajecar and the Timok Valley, while Gamza got lands west of Morava. Kula and Gamza married drunkards and unworthy men while Vida remained unmarried and childless. Instead she dedicated herself to caring for her country and its people. So Vida became very popular her people and her official residence, Vidin Castle, became beloved all the people in her lands.


Whatever the legend might be true or not is not known. However what is historically proven is the fact that the original Vidin Castle was destroyed by Byzantine armies of Basil II the Bulgar Slayer who became famous for his fierce campaign of subjucation of the Bulgarians during his rule. He laid a siege for eight months until the garrison was finally broken defeated. It ended in the early 11th century by taking Vidin Castle and all of the surrounding lands. It was only in the late 14th century did Vidin Castle was rebuilt by Bulgarian king Ivan Stratsmir the Bulgarian during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185- 1396). It also served it as his capital. Between 1365 and 1369 Vidin Castle was captured by the Hungarian forces under leadership of king Louis I og Hungary. Eventually Ivan Stratsimir retook his capital and drove away the invaders.


Ironically Ivan Stratsimir joined the Hungarian forces as well as other countries in the military coalition against the new eneme, Muslim Ottoman Turkish Empire. New anti- Ottoman crusade of the European Christian countries was led by the King of Hungary, Sigismund. Unfortunately the forces were badly beaten and defeated in 1396 at the battle of Nicopolis at modern day Nikopol, Bulgaria. Ivan Stratsmir was captured and probably executed in the prison shortly thereafter.


Upon arrival of Ottoman Turks few minor additions were made to the Vidin Castle. Instead it was turned into a political prison for the Bulgarian freedom fighters. Also it was a residence of several regional governors and leaders including Osman Pazvantogly.  In the end of the 17th century to strengthen citadel against firepower, however in the 18th century it lost much of its original military use. Today Vidin Castle is open to the public. it is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in the country. Its layout consists of two concentric curtain walls that are protected by nine towers.