The Fortress of Belogradchik
Located in the northwest region of Bulgaria, near the town of Belogradchik, the Fortress of Belogradchik was built under the rule of the Roman Empire somewhere between the first and third century. Nestled in the brutal rock formations of the Stara Planina Mountains, it was regarded as one of the strongest fortresses of its time. It features three separate courtyards, divided by gates. It served as a center for surveying and defending important roads in the region, as well as a communication station, where information was relayed through the use of fire, smoke, and drums.
Over the years, the Fortress passed from the Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire, under which it was expanded as hostility in the region grew. By the 7th century, it was controlled by the Slavs, and it later became a crucial structure under the rule of Vidin tsar Ivan Sratsimir. In the 14th century, it held strong against the invading Turks, though it eventually fell. Many uprisings were quelled under their control thanks to the stability of the fortress. In the 19th century, the Fortress of Belogradchik was updated again in make it suitable for modern war. The influences of French and Italian architecture can be seen in its layout, sporting raised walls, secret passages, and bastions in order to suit cannons. As it stands today, the fortress covers nearly 110,000 square feet, with walls that are seven feet thick and 39 feet in height. When it was functional, it could hold up to 3,000 men.
By the end of the 19th century, the fortress was no longer in use. At one point, it was to be auctioned off for building material, but was saved by local protesters, mainly shepherds. Today the Fortress of Belogradchik is not just considered one of the area’s most well-preserved fortifications, but as a great cultural and national symbol rich with history. It is one of Bulgaria’s most treasured and visited monuments.