Towns in Bulgaria - Vidin is often a forgotten area of Bulgaria located in the north western reaches. The magnificent town of Vidin lies on the Danube River, near fortress towns and numerous caves. Compared to other towns in Bulgaria Vidin is one of the smaller regions of Bulgaria, bounded on the north by the Danube and on the west by Serbia. The region is diverse, alternating between the Danubean Plain and the main Balkan range.
Home to many natural landmarks, numerous archeological monuments, ecologically clean areas the region provides all those elements which are pre-requisites for good tourism.
This is a region well known since the ages of tradesmen from Venice for its strong red wine produced from the local Gamza grape which you should definitely try when visiting the area.
The area is very accessible with a main railway line, two harbours and the ferryboats serving as a shortcut between Western Europe, Bulgaria and the Aegean Sea.
The main railroad in the region is the Sofia–Mezdra–Vratsa–Vidin railway line. The two harbors (near Vidin and near Novo Selo) and the ferryboats serve as a shortcut between Western Europe, Bulgaria and the Aegean Sea.
The town of Vidin, on the banks of the Danube River, is at the north western-most point of Bulgaria and has its beginnings long ago in 3rd Century BC.
During Roman times the town was known as Bononia and in later times Budin. After the 11th Century the name was changed to Bdin and it was a powerful military and administrative region. It was not until the second half of the 13th Century that it became known as Vidin. As one of the most important ports the town prospered both commercially and economically not only for local needs but also for trade with Romania, Dubrovnik and others.
In those times Vidin was a great fortress and a significant administrative centre and in the 17th century became to be known as one of the main towns in Bulgaria. During the rule of Osman Pazvantooglu, a Turkish military leader, construction on a massive scale developed in Vidin with new streets, administrative buildings being built, mosques ... some of which are preserved even now. Vidin turned into an oriental town until after the Liberation (1877) when the the town changed its ethnic population in favour of the Bulgarians.
Today with about 70,000 inhabitants, the town is of a semi circular nature with houses oriented towards the Danube. Features of Roman, medeival Bulgarian and Turkish have combined to form today’s mixture of architecture from different ages. It has a delightful atmosphere created by the lovely old architecture combined with modern buildings, offering a unique setting.
Even a festival of fish soup takes place and is well on the way to becoming a local attraction!
People from Hungary and Germany visit in droves and keep coming back in increasing numbers to this special town. One of the reasons for this may be the beautiful town park which runs along the length of the Danube for around 3 kms and includes wonderful beaches. The extensive park has been well preserved through the last 100 years and is a combination of English park and Baroque, bearing the stamp of the 19th Century Astro-Hungarian landscaping. A great place for a stroll along the riverbank in the evening or to take the children during the day.
Things to do
With many historic landmarks it is difficult to choose but here is our must see list for the town:
The hallmark and biggest historical sight of the town is the Baba Vida Fortress, a medieval castle, which has been well preserved. The fortress, dating from the 10th Century played an important role in the town’s defence. Its towers rise along the side of the Danube River in the north eastern part of the town. The foundations of Baba Vida Fortress actually lie over the remnants of the even more ancient Bonania Fortress. This is certainly one of the most impressive monuments of medieval Bulgarian fortification construction and is a protected national monument. Interestingly, the open air theatre of Vidin is set up on the Fortresses premises.
Visitors to the town should also visit the ‘Triangle of Tolerance’. This is an area where within 100m you can visit the houses of worship of three different religious creeds. Here you’ll find St Nicholas church, the Osman Pazvantoglu Mosque (see below) and a Jewish Synagogue.
The Historical Museum is one of the best in Bulgaria with a rich variety of exhibits. It is actually housed in two buildings - Turkish Konak (police station) and Krustata Kazarma (cross-shaped barracks). The cross-shaped barracks are worth visiting anyway as an architectural monument from the 18th Century.
Library and Mosque of Osman Pazvantoglu, dating from around 1800 is a huge construction with oriental architecture and woodcarvings. It is interesting to note the location of the buildings in relation to each other especially as the library was built some two years after the mosque. The mosque is a massive stone building with a vast praying hall, a decorated ceiling and a large wood carved rossette and in the middle. The wooden terrace for women is not separated from the rest.
The Art Gallery Nikola Petrov. Founded in 1961 the actual building dates from 1892. Over 1300 works of Bulgarian and foreign artists. The interesting Graphic section includes works from such masters as Rembrandt.
Also worth visiting:
Mausoleum of the first Bulgarian Ekzarh Antim I
St Panteleimon Church, buit in 1634, this is a valued Bulgarian monument for its architecture
St Petka Church
St Dimitur Cathedral
This is not to forget one of the major features over other towns in Bulgaria is the Danube River. It offers wonderful opportunities for fishing, general relaxation and excursions along the river. Of an evening there are numerous hotels and restaurants (some offering live music).
The ferry (located in the northern part of town) connects Vidin with Romania. A pleasant way to arrive but do we aware that despite stating a ferry leaves every two to three hours, you may find that if your ferry is not full, then it will wait until it is! Car with three people comes to around 29 euros.
Available at the Tourist House, hotels and at Bononia Tourist Association based at 3 Edelvais Street.
For bus transport, regular buses run to Montana, Lom, Vratsa, Belogradchik and Sofia along with other smaller villages in the area.
The railway station is the last one on the line Mezdra - Vratsa - Vidin. Through Mezdra you can connect with other lines serving the country.
Our thanks to the municipalities of Kula, Belogradchick and the webmaster of vidin.info for their kind assistance.
Read more about towns in Bulgaria in Out and About around Vidin