The last week-end, I discovered Belogradchik and its surroundings, a very beautiful place in Bulgaria, that I prefer to name « The red rocks land », even if the name of this town literally means « Small white town » ;-). The city has the particularity to be circled by rocks which make it a popular tourist destination.
Located close to Serbia, Belogradchik is a town of Vidin Province and is located 50 km South from the Danube River and 180 km from Sofia in northwestern Bulgaria. In order to have time to visit, we booked a room on this very nice Bed&Breakfast called « Guest House & Bistro Castle Cottage » that I present you in an other article (discover it by clicking on its name). Selected to be the European Destination of Excellence in Bulgaria in 2008, Belogradchik is a small town that is more enjoyable and easy to discover by foot (but if you need, there is also a limited taxi service available).
So, we spend our Saturday’s afternoon visiting the town, walking, strolling, and looking at the main cultural attractions. Unfortunately, those were closed, open only from monday to friday. The History Museum, Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum are some of them. More informations about the all attractions to the city here.
The centre of Belogradchik is very quite and looks like some others Bulgarian city centers, with a large place and some restaurants and bars around it. The parking spots are generally paid (1,20 BGN per day, in cash), and you have to pay it directly to a person walking around. Just behind this place, you can discover some communist architectural buildings, as this old branch of the Bulgarian National Bank which is for sale if you are interested 🙂 (we imagined lot of things to do with this kind of building). As you can see, it’s written both in Bulgarian and French! Yes, in the old times of communism, French was the official foreign international language in Bulgaria. Not English… Close the place, we chose to take a lunch in the restaurant of the Hotel Skalite, located on the central place (2, Vuzrajdane Sq.). It was simple and good (I ate a trout with garnish for 11 BGN).
Then, visible, the ancient Mosque now abandoned is also interesting because of its outside architecture and its very nice fresco above the entrance door. Take a peek inside out the window mesh.
Even if there are lot of cultural places to visit in Belogradchik (mainly during the week you got it), the two most famous place there are the Fortress and the red rocks formations.
The Kaleto Fortress is one of the best preserved fortress in Bulgaria, and it played an important role for the defense of the region for centuries. It is situated close to the town, in the region of the rocks. Definitely, it was a real pleasure to visit it on Sunday early morning, when you are alone (Entrance price 2016 : 5 BGN – Parking place : 2,5 BGN).
From the top of the Katelo Fortress, after 15 minutes of walk from the entrance, you discover THE view on the red rocks and it is just amazing, in an absolute silence.
BE CAREFUL : The way to get there is quite perilous because you have to take very steep stairs, often over the void. Parents are invited to reach each turn, with good shoes.
The natural rock formations were used in the construction of the Fortress. It has later been part of the defensive system of the Byzantine Empire, then of the Bulgarian State, and served as a garrison of the Ottoman Empire. The Fortress was reconstructed under the instruction of French and Italian engineers, at the beginning of the 19th century.
For hiking lovers, you might hike on the mountain to see the red rocks from a closer point of view. Hiking paths are accessible arriving in the square at the entrance of the fortress, far right (14km).
For a 9-people group, the Villa Albacita is a very beautiful and modern house with 4 rooms included, accommodated in the heart of the pine of Belogradchik, close to the Kaleto Fortress and with a view from the terrace on the mountain range and the Belogradchik rocks (address : Ul. Colo Todorov n/n, 3900 Belogradchik, Bulgarie – more info here).
Then, there are others places to visit if you pass a week-end in Belogradchick area. The Magura and Venetsa caves are some of them. We visited the second one, the Veneca Cave (check the article here), and it was really amazing.
More pictures :