Last update12:12:22 PM

Back You are here: Home Travel Out and About Out and About around Vidin

Out and About around Vidin

The town of Kula is 32 kms to the west of Vidin and just 13kms from the Serbian border. At the start of the 20th Century people from the area of Teteven (central Bulgaria, Stara Planina mountain range) came to settle in Kula. It is believed that they came from the village named Golyam Izvor and strangely enough not far from Kula in Serbia itself there is also a village with the same name, most of whose inhabitants also speak Bulgarian!

Perhaps Kula has some particular attraction for people from elsewhere as two Italians also settled here. The first was Umbert Berborov who came after the First World War and after the Second World War came Renato Karloni. These days there are around 5,000 inhabitants in the town.

Kula was built on an old Roman fortress called Kastra Martis and today you can still visit this magnificent tower which rises up right in the centre of the town. Its origins date from the end of the 3rd Century and start of the 4th Century when the Danubean boundary was restored and new fortresses were built inland from the river.

Kastra Martis had a strategic role in guarding the road from Bononya province to Singidunum (these days called Belgrade) and held a key position in protecting the lands in the most western part of the Stara Planina during the 4th to 5th Centuries. However, the fortress was later destroyed during the Avars invasion and it was not until the 14th Century that it was partially restored and was used in the protection of the Vidin feudal kingdom.

Set on the steep southern slope of the Voinishka River, the central building faces the northern fortress wall. There is a central inner yard surrounded by two storey buildings. The large one on the northern side of the yard was a gathering point for commanders. Near to the fortress remains is a small building which houses an exhibition illustrating the culture of the local population through the ages and also including life in the fortress, with maps and military plans, tools and instruments used by the soldiers.

This has to be one of the most welcoming and attractive tourism sites in Bulgaria. The town is just 52 kms from Vidin and is set in one of the most fantastic natural environments. The two main interests are the Belogradchik Rocks and the Balogradchik Fortress.

Belogradchik Rocks
These unique red rock formations have been moulded by nature during some 200 million years. This is a fascinating place for anyone, not just those interested in natural wonders.
The formation of the rocks started when the red sandstone and limestone were on the bottom of a huge sea and the earlier Paleozoic rocks stayed on dry land and began to gradually weather and change. The weathering process over millions of years has resulted in a multitude of fantastic figures and shapes.

Visitors will instantly recognise rocks called ‘The School Girl’, ‘The Mushrooms, ‘The Bear’ and ‘The Monks’, along with others. Covering some 90 sq. kms. this is a sight which really has to be seen!

Belogradchik Fortress
The fortress arose on a small scale during the 1st to 3rd Centuries built on the highest point of the rock massif in the area.

It was to guard the road from Ratsiaria on the Danube going south (eventually culminating in Rome), which was used predominantly for military purposes. The fortress was at that time surrounded by 150 plus meter deep pits so that the only access was by a ladder cut directly into the rock.

During the latter part of the 14th Century the fortification was expanded with two more huge walls and a garrison. It was at this time that the fortress became the second best, only coming behind Vidin in importance. The fortress went through periods of Hungarians, Ottomans and Turks. The largest reconstruction and enlargement of the fortress was during the early 1800’s with the addition of 12 meter walls, three interior yards, metal gates and ammunition depots, plus an outer defence. The remains which you can see today are the headquarters of the guards and the passageways under the fortress, which were used mostly for storage.

The fortress is amazing not only for its history but for its visual impact. The castle walls are decorated with all manner of columns and reliefs of plants and animals. The entrance arches are a stunning combination of red and white rock. One of the best preserved fortresses in the country.
Perhaps Gerome Blanqui summed it up best when he wrote in 1841 ‘Neither the famous Ollioules gorges in Provence, the Pincarbo defile in Spain, the Alps, nor the most ancient mountains of Tirol and Switzerland possess anything that could be compared with what I have seen in Belogradchik’.