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Rabisha Lake and Magura Cave

The Rabisha Lake is situated between two villages called ‘Tolovitsa' and ‘Rabisha' in the Belogradchik municipality of Bulgaria; approximately 40 km from Vidin and north west of Sofia .

This fresh water lake is the largest in Bulgaria with an area of 1 sq km.

It is an endorheic lake, no rivers flow from it and it was formed over 2 million years ago. The water is supplied from the springs of the nearby Magura caves; it has a depth of between 30-40 metres. It offers good conditions for surfing, swimming and fishing. It is well stocked with Carp, Catfish and Grass carp and Sea birds.

The folk tales and legends from people of medieval times in Bulgaria thought that it was a bottomless lake, therefore believing there to be scary creatures lurking beneath the deep water of the lake. Many stories have been told about the monsters of Rabisha Lake just like those of Loch Ness in Scotland, however some of these tales may have came about from the huge size that the catfish grow to in the lake, and although they live mainly at the bottom of the lake they do come to the surface in the spring and this may have prompted locals of times gone by to think they were monsters. A story common to Slavic mythology is the tale of the Water bull which is supposed to be more like a human with a head of a bull, a strong man's body and a tail like a fish. To stop any harm by the monster to the villagers they thought that they had to sacrifice the most beautiful girl in the area alongside a multitude of gifts, place them in a boat and sail it across to the centre of the lake. Whereby the monster would capture and kill her, but instead it is believed that the water bull fell in love with the girl and had his sister who was a witch, cast a spell on the girl to make her immortal like him, therefore living happily ever after at the bottom of the lake.  There are other tales, but this one has been reported to be the story that is being acted out by villagers to promote the region to tourists when visiting The Rabisha Lake, with dancing, music and singing.

The lake is a popular spot for camping in August for Bulgarian holiday makers, who catch fish to cook, and party with family and friends. The lake attracts thousands of visitors each year and there is also the Belogradchik Rock Formations about 10 minutes drive from the lake, and the Magura Caves.

Magura caves
The caves are approx 1 km from the village of Rabisha, and 35 km from Vidin. The Magura caves were formed about 15 million years ago and cover a length of 2.5 km. They are the largest caves in Bulgaria and the only ones that are open to visitors.

The tour of the caves takes around 2 hours. The caves have a main gallery with three hallways running off in different sizes. One of the caves produces a champagne type wine by using classic techniques and due to the consistent year round temperature. The special fizzy natural wine stays in the cave for 3 years before it is ready. The other caves have huge stalactites and stalagmites. There is also a selection of pre-historic bones from species such as Cave Bears and Cave Hyenas, and traces of pre historic like from the Bronze Age and Iron Age. A gallery of drawings and religious cave paintings, ceramics and tools can be also seen.

This area has recently become a busy tourist spot as it also has the Belogradchik Rock Formations, situated 20 km from the Magura caves, an impressive collection of sandstone and limestone rock formations. They are a natural landmark of Bulgaria and each one of the seven weird and magnificent, oddly formed shapes is named. Have a great few days of discovering, some of Bulgaria's ancient history.