Belogradchik Fortress – Enchantingly Medieval (History, Travel Tips & Video Tour)

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Belogradchik Fortress (also known as Kaleto), is an ancient fortress near the Bulgarian city of Belogradchik. Partially built into the grand Belogradchik Rocks, this fortress is a great site-seeing destination for visiting tourists! The architectural style of this ancient fortress comprises elements of Roman design, Ottoman architecture, and some European elements, characteristic of French and Italian architecture. 

It has three-walled courtyards and is open to the public as an alfresco (open-air) museum. It is one of the most unspoiled ancient structures in Bulgaria and is a cultural monument, managed by the local museum of history. 

No longer a functioning fortress, it is still in pristine condition. A hike up the rocks offers a brilliant view of the fortress and the surrounding area. It’s no wonder that crowds of visitors from around the world are drawn to this famous medieval and enchanting landmark every year!

The fortress was the second-most important stronghold in the country during its golden years.

Belogradchik Fortress in  Bulgaria.
Belogradchik Fortress in Bulgaria. Elena Chochkova, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

The fortress was originally constructed during the time when the region formed part of the Roman Empire (between the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD), mainly as a monitoring point for the access roads leading in and out of the region. 

The view inside Belogradchik Fortress.
The view inside Belogradchik Fortress.

Further construction was done later by the Bulgarian Tsar, Ivan Stratsimir, in the 14th century. The additions included fortified garrisons, making it the second-largest stronghold in Bulgaria. More building was done to further fortify the structure after the fortress was seized by the Ottomans in 1396, making it a veritable stronghold to ward off rebellion in the region. 

The entrance to Belogradchik Fortress.
The entrance to Belogradchik Fortress. The Fortress of Belogradchik flickr photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

In the early 19th century, the fortress was restructured and developed even further. It proved extremely useful to the Ottomans when they resisted the Bulgarian Belogradchik Uprising in 1850. The fortress was used again during the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885. This was the last time the stronghold was used in a combat situation.

Current Times

Today, Belogradchik Fortress is a well-liked tourist site. The site is no longer a functioning fortress and was declared a national landmark in 1965, as published in Issue 41 of the State Gazette. 

The entrance to Belogradchik Castle.
The entrance to Belogradchik Castle. IMG_0867 flickr photo by Athena Lao shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The site has been well-preserved, remarkable for such an ancient fortress! People from all over the world visit this fortress to view the fantastic architectural styles of the structure. Bike tours through and around the fortress are available, another option is to hike up the Belogradchik Rocks and enjoy a breath-taking view of the fortress and the areas around it.

The aerial view inside Belogradchik Fortress.
The aerial view inside Belogradchik Fortress. Belogradchik Fortress flickr photo by alex.lovelltroy shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Interesting Belogradchik Fortress Facts

  • The fortress walls are around 6.6 feet thick and 39 feet high.
  • Belogradchik Fortress covers a total area of about 109,900 square feet.
  • The fortress was the second-most important stronghold in the country during its golden years.
  • Belogradchik translates to “white construction” in Bulgarian.
  • The Belogradchik Rocks are formed in sandstone full of iron oxide, which gives them their reddish tint.

Visiting Belogradchik Fortress – Tips and Tricks

The fortress ruins have been well-maintained – so you are able to view the whole structure when visiting. Bear in mind it is an entirely open-air setting, so plan accordingly!

The visiting tourists in Belogradchik Fortress.
The visiting tourists in Belogradchik Fortress.

How to get to Belogradchik Fortress?

Travelling by bus from the capital city of Sofia will get you to the fortress in around three and a half hours at a cost of BGN 17.00 ($10 USD), with a fourteen minute walk from the bus drop-off point to the fortress entrance.

Another option is to take a train from Sofia Station to Oreshets Station in around three and a half hours at a cost of BGN 17.00 ($10 USD), followed by a thirteen minute taxi trip to the fortress at an additional cost of BGN 17.00 ($10 USD).

Alternatively, you could rent a car and spend around BGN 34.00-51.00 ($20-$30 USD) on fuel to drive from Sofia to the fortress in three hours. You could also take a taxi from Sofia and get to the fortress in three hours at a cost of between BGN 171.00-205.00 ($100-$120 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The entrance fee to explore the fortress is BGN 6.00 ( $3.5 USD) for adults, while family tickets for parents and their children under 18 years of age are BGN 12.00 ($7 USD). Tickets cost BGN 3.00 ($2 USD) per person for groups of ten or more. There is parking outside the fortress for visitors who arrive by car.

Visiting hours are from 9am-6pm during the months from June through September. Temperatures are usually optimal during this period. From October to May, the opening hours are from 9am–5pm. If you choose to visit the site during these months be sure to dress warmly as these are the cold months in the region. The fortress is not closed for any holidays.

Belogradchik Fortress overlooking the city of Belogradchik.
Belogradchik Fortress overlooking the city of Belogradchik.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

Most visitors take around one to two hours to get their sightseeing done on a quick tour. Some of the tours available make provision for a half-day tour of the fortress and the rocks. 

The hike up the rocks is quite steep, if you are relatively fit the trip all the way up should take around 10 – 30 minutes.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Dress appropriately as your touring will be outdoors.
  • Take refreshments and remain hydrated as you will be walking throughout your visit to the site and climbing the steep stairs of the rock formations at the fortress.
  • Due to the natural rock locality, the fortress is not wheelchair accessible.
  • COVID: Check for any regulations, opening hours, and restrictions on the official Egeskov Castle website, as rules have been changed and adapted several times since the pandemic started.

Discover more amazing castles in Bulgaria, we’ve complied a list for you!

Quick Video Tour of The Main Belogradchik Fortress Areas

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Charmaine Waterston
Charmaine Waterston
After studying Law and Industrial Psychology, I went on to start my own ICT data recovery business. Some years later I qualified locally as a Financial Advisor and ran my own business with a portfolio of clients. Throughout my life, I traveled extensively to many interesting countries around the world. While enjoying my life’s adventures, I absorbed the rich history of various cultures and experienced the beauty of so many different places! Today, I am an author. I combine my career and travel experience with my thirst for knowledge about our captivating world and the remarkable people in it. My writing is an expression of my passion for personal growth and my love of communication. I am truly fulfilling my dream through my work!

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