Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Fortresses & Castles in Bulgaria

Most of the so-called castles we see in Bulgaria today are more accurately fortresses. Strongholds built to protect communities in various conflicts in the country’s long history. In many instances, these fortified settlements have long histories, strategic or prominent locations that were successively occupied by Thracians, Romans, Bulgars and Ottomans. Some played crucial roles in battles between Bulgarians and the Turks, and are now sites of immense national pride and popular tourist attractions.

Baba Vida Medieval Fortress

The Babini Vidini Kuli Fortress, also called Baba Vida, is said to be the best preserved Medieval castle in Bulgaria. Construction began in the 10th century on the site of the Roman castell Bononia. There are two concentric curtain walls and nine towers – three of which have survived at the original height. The exceptional preservation and its location on the south bank of the Danube River makes this a popular attraction. And one that is frequently used in film production. During the summer the castle hosts performances and concerts.

Belogradchik Fortress

The Belogradchik Fortress is found among large, natural sandstone formations. The first fort was constructed by the Romans, and probably only served surveillance functions. It was not until the 14th century that the walls were extended to make this one of the the most strategic and substantial strongholds in the region. Since then the fort has played key defensive roles in various battles between the Bulgarians and Ottomans. Changes made in the 19th century reflect the engineer’s Italian and French origins.

Cherven Fortress

Near the town of Cherven are the ruins of a medieval fortress that was one of the major centers of the Second Bulgarian Empire. At the height of the stronghold’s powers, the settlement built on a flat rocky outcrop in a loop of the river covered an area of over one square kilometre. In 1388 Cherven was captured by the Ottoman Turks during the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars and was abandoned soon after. Archaeological excavations are ongoing, one of the finds being a 14th-century church with frescoes.

Ovech Fortress, Provadia

On the plateau immediately above the town of Provadia is the reconstructed stone fortress of Ovech. Various original rock-cut structures have survived. For example, the foundations of a 12th century church cut into bedrock are clearly visible, and it is surrounded by a number of rock-cut graves. What you see from the streets of Provadia is the medieval fortress, the site was first inhabited by the Thracians, followed successively by the Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and the Turks – each leaving their mark.