A Roman Citadel with Monster Walls
Originally built as a lookout by Romans to control the road from the 1st through 3rd centuries, Belogradchik Fortress was reconstructed and expanded by Ottoman conquerors for military utilization during the 14th century. In 1850, the fortress was the site of a tragedy—the pathway by which the town’s most prominent men were led through a tunnel and beheaded during the Belogradchik Revolt. The fortress was last used for military purposes in 1885 during the Serbo-Bulgarian War.
Today, the fortress serves as a well-preserved open-air museum. Its walls are 6.5 feet thick and 40 feet high, dwarfing people who pass through its archways on their way up the path to the Belogradchik Rocks. The oldest part of the fortress, known as the Citadel, stands at the top of the hill, enveloped within the natural barrier of the rocks.
Prehistoric Paintings and Bulgarian Bubbly
Some 15 miles northwest of the Belogradchik Rocks stands Magura Cave, a veritable museum of prehistory, well-preserved and nestled beneath the ground. Here among the stalactites and stalagmites, the bones of ancient cave bears and hyenas have been discovered. But far more interesting than that are the paintings on the walls of the cave: hundreds of depictions of men and women hunting and dancing, of animals—including something akin to a giraffe—and the earliest solar calendar discovered in Europe. The paintings, derived from bat guano, date from different eras as early as the Paleolithic and offer a glimpse into a society far more advanced than initially imagined.
Because of its historical significance, Magura Cave has been recognized as a Bulgarian natural landmark. The cave’s “Bat Gallery” is also utilized by nearby Magura Winery. Sparkling wine is stored in the gallery, as the natural conditions in which it matures underground are akin to those used in the production of authentic French champagne.
Venture into the Lower Danube to explore the natural wonders of Belogradchik with our Gems of Southeast Europe and Grand Danube itineraries.