Bulgaria, Natural Phenomena, Belogradchik
The Fortress And The Rocks Of Belogradchik
The Fortress of Belogradchik is an impressive architectural-constructional and historical monument of the culture. It is situated in the south of Vidin between Peak Kom and Peak Vrushka Chuka. The slender silhouette of the fortress enters perfectly in the space surrounded by the reddish rock massifs dominating over Belogradchik.
The unique Rocks of Belogradchik were molded by the nature in the course of 200 millions of years.
Their formation has started as a result of the Early-Alpine tectonic cycle, when the red sandstones and limestones were on the bottom of the huge sea and the earlier folded Paleozoic rocks remained on dry land and began to deform. The character red colour is due to iron oxides and hydroxides.
The processes of weathering, detonation, river erosion, freezing, growth of moss and lichen, as well as other natural factors that lasted for millenniums, resulted in the formation of a multitude of fantastic figures and compositions. Not great imagination is required to recognize in the rocks "The School Girl", "The Mushrooms", "Haidouk Velko", "The Bear", "The Eagle", "The Madonna", "The Monks" and many others. During his journey in the region Konstantin Irechek exclaimed: "This cannot be described, it has to be seen!"
The Fortress of Belogradchik has risen during the 1st – 3rd A.D. centuries as a small fortress-rampart. The builder has used skillfully the inaccessibility of the elliptic rock terrace – "first plate" and has organized a structure that fulfilled defensive, observation, protective and communication functions. During archeological excavations were found bases of walls, ceramic fragments, iron spear and arrow gads, coins from Roman emperors – from the ruling of Vespasian, Trajan, Septimius Severus, Gordian III, Decii Trajan. Still may be seen Beds of rectangular beams, of light buildings and chutes, which were taking the atmospheric waters to an 85 m3 capacity water reservoir.
The Fortress was active also during the late antiquity. The ruler of Vidin – Ivan Sratsimir (1355 - 1396) evaluated its strategic significance. During his time it was additionally reinforced and enlarged. Two partition walls and auxiliary buildings were built. The hanging wooden bridges and the stone staircases were providing better possibilities for quick maneuvering.
The chronicle tells that within three months from the conquest of Bdin (Vidin) on 2 June 1365, all remaining in the area fortress were also captured, including the fortress Fehervar (Belogradchik). The garrison, which was placed in the fortress, was expelled by rebelling Bulgarians in 1369.
Also in 1369 the fortress was captured by Ottomans and partially destroyed. In 1454 - 1455 an 8-person guard was placed in it; 100 years later the garrison already consisted of 27 people and one dizdar (chief). Till the beginning of the 19th century the new masters made only mirror repairs and improvements of the fortress. The overall reconstruction and enlargement has been started in 1805 by French engineers and was completed by Italian fortification experts in 1837. Battle paths were securing speed and mobility to the defenders.
The name of the fortress is connected with the heroic deed of Haidouk Velko, who for a short period has gained command of the fortress in 1809, with the heroism of the Bulgarian rebels in 1805, and the actions of the Panayot Hitov's band in 1876.
For Belogradchik the prominent French traveler Gerome Blanqui has written 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".