What’s Bulgaria known for? Firstly, for a few quite quirky features, including the fact that in Bulgaria, if you shake your head it means yes and if you nod your head it means no. Their national instrument is the bagpipes and for a brief moment Tom Hanks was their mascot when playing a guy who spoke Bulgarian in Hollywood movie, The Terminal. But what this beautiful country in Eastern Europe is really known for are its fortresses.
Adventurous holiday makers who love their fair share of history will want to head over to Bulgaria. Touring this amazing country will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Ready for some fascinating forts? Let’s go:
Tsarevets is one of Bulgaria’s most beloved monuments. It is located on the Tsarevets Hill and used to be the seat of the medieval tsars. The fort has over 400 houses, 18 churches, a royal palace and even an execution rock. This is from where traitors were pushed into the nearby river – luckily times have changed! Built between the 5th and 7th centuries by the Byzantines, it was later used by the Thracians and the Romans as a defensive mechanism. The Bulgars later rebuilt the fortress in the 9th century and yet again by the Byzantines in the 12th century. Unfortunately when the Turkish invaded Bulgaria in 1393, the entire fortress was destroyed. It was the communists who later rebuilt the entire fort!
There’s plenty to see here; enter the fort and you’ll be met by the scattered remains of a 12th century monastery and two churches. Continue walking and you’ll see the Patriarch’s Complex, and sitting below this are the foundations of the Royal Palace. Head up the steps and look at the Church of the Blessed Saviour. From here you’ll get an amazing view of the city.
This is one of Bulgaria’s most famed landmarks and it is the oldest fort in the country, being initially built in 3200BC. The fortress lies in close proximity to the city of Shumen which is a popular holiday spot. The Shumen fortress was first built by the Thracians and was later reconstructed by various peoples, lastly by the Bulgarians.
Plenty remains of the fortress and it still excites archaeologists today. You can see the ruins of 12 churches, Roman baths, an entirely rebuilt tower and some stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Open all year round, this isn’t one you can miss.
Kaleto Fortress (or Belogradchik Fortress)
This is easily Bulgaria’s most preserved fortress. It was initially kept by the Romans to guard certain pathways through the area. It is located in a rather hilly part of the country in the Balkan Mountains which certainly helped the Romans with their guarding initiatives. Centuries later it was taken over by the Turkish who placed soldiers here while keeping the rebelling Bulgarians at bay. What you can see here today was mainly restored and completed in the 1830s; take a wander around the courtyards (there are three) and look at the amazing defensive bunkers (you can go in and explore these). Open all year round, but with different opening times winter and summer, this fortress is well worth the look.