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Belogradchik, the Small White Town

The name Belogradchik is becoming widely known as one of the most interesting and most beautiful natural rock formations in the world as it competes for a position as one of the New Wonders of Nature along with household names like the Grand Canyon and Ayers Rock. Yet there is so much more to Belogradchik that the incredible rocks. This city in northwestern Bulgaria, which sits at the foothills of the Balkan Range to the east of the Serbian border and 50 km south of the Danube River is offers a rich cultural life along with the peace and quiet associated with this part of the country.


Getting There

The town can be accesses by bus from the capital with a regular service running each day. The journey time is around four hours and given that the distance is only 116 m it may be best to hire a car and go it alone. Vidin is the nearest big town at 50 km away and this town too is linked to the public bus network. There is a rail link between Sofia and Belogradchik and with Sofia being the nearest airport this is also an option. With only 5,519 inhabitants, Belogradchik is a small town making it easy to travel around on foot, although there is a taxi service available.

A Dip Back in Time

Archaeologists have not been able to find any mention of the town in written documentation until it was occupied by the Romans. The Romans fortified the town with a fortress that still remains today, yet it was raided many times and the original fortress has been rebuilt many times with the conquering Ottoman army adding additional fortifications in the 15th century. The fortress was not fully completed until 1837 and now bears all of the hallmarks of this era.

Must See

The town has an interesting History Museum, which exhibits displays connected with the area’s history and folklore. The interesting thing about the museum is that it is housed in a beautiful 19th century National Revival house, which gives a great insight into the architecture and style of this important period in Bulgaria’s history. The town is also home to another museum; the Natural History Museum, which is located in the attractive town park and displays examples and details of wildlife native to the area. The town Art Gallery on the main street features 180 drawings and paintings of artists from the town and the region.

You can’t miss the Belogradchik Rocks; they are visible from the main square, the park and the fortress.The rocks cover 90 sq km of land and are formed from eroded sandstone and limestone a process which started with their formation over 100 million years ago. With some towering over 200 m in height, they have been given names like Adam and Eve and the Bear according to what they look like and over the centuries they have been the source of many a legend. The area is also rich in caves with 100 at the last count. The most famous is undoubtedly the Magura, which stretches for over 2,500 m and and contains some of the oldest cave paintings in Europe.

This area as a whole is an ideal hiking location and consequently there are plenty of well marked paths, which range from 4 km to 24 km in length and offer plenty of opportunities to take in the breathtaking scenery and rich array of local wildlife.

The rocks are impressive, but so is the Belogradchik Fortress, which has been crafted into the lofty rocks on the hillside overlooking the town. Originally built by the Romans in the 1st century it offers more spectacular views of this charming town. It was a natural site for a fortress because the rock formations added additional protection. It is often called by its Turkish name the Kaleto and is one of the most well preserved fortifications in the country with walls more than two meters thick and around 12 m high. There are three interconnected courtyards, which can only be entered via the strong gate. The reigning Ottoman Turks made many changes to the fortress as late as the 19th century and the architecture you see today is more reminiscent of this era than that of the Romans. Such is the status of the fortress that it is has been designated a national cultural monument managed by the local historical museum.


For a small town, there are plenty of facilities to cope with the growing number of visitors. There are several places where you can taste some great, traditional Bulgarian cuisine; the Inn, the Tavern Madonna and the Restaurant Skalite all serve great dishes with local additions from the area alongside the national dishes. If you prefer to dine on the usual array of European dishes, then try the Restaurant Elite. There are plenty of small cafes and bars along the main street and around the square and most have pavement cafes open in the warmer months. Don’t forget to order a bottle of Magura wine, which is made in neighboring Rabisha. There are plenty of places offering accommodation including plenty of guest houses.

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