North-Western Bulgaria is one of the off-the-beaten track destinations, still undiscovered, but full of history, legends and spectacular views.
Vidin, with its mediaeval fortress and century-old Jewish-heritage, the river Danube, Belogradchik mediaeval fortress and Belogradchik rocks natural phenomena, Magura cave with the impressive prehistoric drawings, Rogozen silver Thracian treasure at the Vratza history museum.
Itinerary - MEDIAEVAL FORTRESSES & ROCKY LEGENDS 2017
Day 1: SOFIA - VIDIN (260 KM)
08,30 leave Sofia and drive north to Vidin (4,5 hrs). Cross the Balkan range at Vitinya Pass and proceed to the Danube plain. Vidin is an ancient and charming Danube city with a 2000 years old history, dating back to Roman times. Established during the III century BC, the town has always had a strategic location for all the countries it belonged to – The Roman Empire, the Bulgarian Kingdom, the Vidin Kingdom, the Austrian – Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Lunch break in Vidin, followed by a city sightseeing.
Start your tour with a visit to the local Art gallery, carefully guarding the work of some of the most famous early 20th century Bulgarian artists. Proceed with a visit to Baba Vida fortress, which is the only fully preserved mediaeval fortress in Bulgaria. Vidin keeps its Ottoman heritage, too. The Osman Pazvantogly mosque is worth a visit. Vidin was also an important centre of Jewish culture. Most of the Jewish citizens left at the end of 1940’s, emigrating to Israel. The Synagogue, derelict now but imposing building, speaks of the past glory.
Optional: wine-tasting session in a local winery(supplement applies).
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Vidin.
Day 2: VIDIN - Magura cave - BELOGRADCHIK (100 km)
Following breakfast, proceed to Magura (1 hour) and visit one of the biggest caves in Bulgaria, famous for the unique prehistoric drawings. Magura cave was inhabited 12 thousand years ago by prehistoric people, who left over 700 cave paintings on the walls. Bat guano was used by the artists to represent fantastic dancing and hunting scenes. They are masterpieces of the prehistoric art in all South Eastern Europe.
Proceed to Belogradchik, a town not to be missed. The city became extremely popular since 2008, when the Rocks natural phenomena was nominated finalist of New7Wonders of Nature competition.
The Belogradchik Rocks are miraculous sandstone and limestone rock formations of up to 200 m in height with various shapes resulting from erosion. They form a strip which is 30 km in length and 3 km in width. Every single rock is named after a real object that it resembles. The ancient Romans first evaluated the significance of the rock formations and built their first fortress here in 3 c. A.D.
En route to your hotel, enjoy the beautiful views on both sides of the road.
In the afternoon take a guided tour of the Belogradchik Fortress.
Overnight at hotel in Belogradchik.
Day 3: BELOGRADCHIK - Chiprovtsi - Vratsa - SOFIA ( 260 km)
Leave Belogradchik after breakfast and drive south to Chiprovtzi.
Nestled beneath the highest mountains of the northeast, Chiprovtzi has one of the best scenery in the northeast. It was an important gold and silver mining center in the late middle Ages which attracted many Saxons who used to bring not only new technologies, but also Catholicism. Despite the Ottoman domination, Chiprovtzi became an important centre of Catholic learning Rug-making was the traditional craft that made the city famous. Visit a small carpet-weaving workshop.
Stop over in Vratza to visit the local museum and admire the original beauty of the Thracian gold and silver treasures (IV c B.C.)
In the late afternoon drive back to Sofia. Cross the Balkan range at the Iskar gorge. Enjoy the spectacular views over the Iskar river gorge, with red-roof houses, scattered among green forests and steep hills. Tour ends at 7 p.m. in Sofia.