Belograchik is a town in northwestern Bulgaria in the Vidin Province. Belogradchik, which literally means "small white town," is situated in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains just east of the Serbian border and about 50 km south of the Danube River.
Belogradchik Rocks, near Vidin in north west Bulgaria has gone through to the second phase of the competition for the most incredible natural wonders of the world, New 7 Wonders of Nature. From 441 natural phenomena across the world, 261 have gone through to second phase. The mission statement of the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign is "If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it".
The Belogradchik rocks - this rock tale - lay (from the West to the East) from Vedernik, near the town of Belogradchik, the village of Borovitsa, to the village of Belotintsi. The area length is about 30 km and its width is 3 km. Many of the rocks are related with interest legends. The central group of rocks is situated to the South of Belogradchik. Here are the most interesting and impressive formations - Adam and Eve, The Schoolgirl, The Bear, The Shepherd boy, The Dervish, The First slabstone, The Camel, The Mushrooms, The Cuckoo, The Red wall, The Madonna, The Horseman, The Monks, The Mental stone, Rebel Velko, The Pine stone and many others. They are declared as a natural landmarks. The second group is to the West of the town. The rocks are of Alpine type, they surround big precipices. The most famous rocks are Zbegovete, Erqupriya, Boritch. The third group is some 4 km away to the East of the town, which includes the rocks around The Latin Kale and The Lipenik cave. The fourth group is extended between the villages of Borovitsa and Falkovets. There are the well-known Pine stone (declared as a natural landmark), The Red stone, The Bee stone, Torlak, The Maid's rock The last group is situated between the villages of Gyurgitch and Belotintsi. Sand-mergel rocks have been stratified in this region about 200 million years ago (in the end of the palaeozoic period). Later they have been overflowed by a sea, on the bottom of which sand, gravel and clay, dragged up by the rivers, have been piled. In the course of time these materials have been fitted together by silicon or sand-clay solder. Conglomerates and sand-stones, known as colored sand-stone - boundsandstein, have been formed in this way. Under the influence of the iron oxide they have gotten a red shade. Gray and cream-white limestone have been piled up the sand-stones during the Jurassic period. They formed the foreheads of the present Belogradchik's Venets and Vedernik. During the folding of The Balkan Mountains this region turned to dry land. Rifts have appeared in its highest part, under the destroyed function of water, winds and the temperature variations. This action have reached the sand-stones. Because of their different hardness they have been destroyed unequably. So the fantastic outlines of the Belogradchik rocks have been created during million years. Over 100 caves - rich in beautiful formations, precipices and interesting fauna have been formed in the sand-stone and the limestone . The most famous - The Magura cave (its length is over 2500 m) is well laid out - lighting, safeguard fittings. With the surrounded area it is declared as a natural landmark.
Magura Cave is situated at the foot of the hill Rabishkata, only 25 kilometers. of Belogradchik. The height of the mound is 461 m and 80 m below this point is hidden, imperceptible, its entrance. The total length of the cave is about 3000 meters, which were developed in 1400 m. The temperature varies between 12.2 - 12.9 ° C in all seasons of the year. The most valuable heritage left by previous occupants of Magura are cave drawings of primitive artists who have used manure from bats and red clay. Nearly 700 paintings, made the cave Rabishkata unique across Southeast Europe. These are sealed creations made by people from the Bronze Age are older more than 3000 years.
Belogradchik Fortress "Kaleto" is one of the best preserved in the country. Using the natural unaccessibility of the rocks, in I-III century Romans maintained there fortress for protection of strategic roads that cross the region. In late antiquity it is part of the defense system of the Roman, then Byzantine Empire, built on the northern slopes of Stara Planina. The fortress is finished by Bulgarians. It importance increased after the establishment of Vidinsko tsarstvo including the territories of today's northwestern Bulgaria, eastern parts of south-eastern Serbia and Romania. One of the last strongholds (then named Belgrade), conquered by the Turks at the end of the XIV century. They accommodated a garrison, which play an important role in guarding the western areas of the state and the suppression of uprisings in the Bulgarian population. In the period 1805-1837 was expanded and reconstructed for firearms under the guidance of French and Italian engineers. It consists of three yards (each with the possibility of autonomous protection) with a total area of 10 211 sq.m and a separate fortification. There are two main gates, Vidin kapia and Nish kapia. On the fortress walls (height to 10 meters) were built embrasures for shotguns. For the three tools wеre built three bastion. In time of war the number of defenders of the fortress and surrounding heights reaching up to 3000 people.
The Astronomical observatory of the Institute of Astronomy to the Bulgarian Academy of Science uses three telescopes - 60 cm Kasagren, 36.5 cm Celestrone and 15 cm Kasegren; computer for machining and saving the data from the electro-fhotometric observations and from the CCD camera. The Moon, The ring of Saturn, the satellites of Jupiter, the Venus sickle, comets, stars, star heaps, galaxies can be observed. There is organized an annual school on astronomy with international participation.
The Art gallery owns over 180 canvases -black and white drawing and painting, some of them drown during the annual meetings of painting organized in the town and its surroundings. There are works of Maistora, Stoyan Venev, Ivan Hristov, Yoan Leviev, Bahit Bapishev etc.
The Museum of History is situated in the Panov's house (1810, an example of the Western Bulgarian national architecture from the Enlightenment period). After its restoration in 1970, an exposition of 8 000 exponents, reflecting the life, occupation and the fights of the people from this region in XVIII century.
The plant and animal world of the region is rich and varied.Many rare and threatened with extinction species, includedin the Red book of Bulgaria (some of can be seen only inthis region of the World: Eranthis bulgaricus, Crocustommasinianus, Centaurea atropurpurea, Ramonda serbica).Orchid family is wide-presented. The Museum of Natureand Science has over 3000 flora and fauna exhibits from the North-West Bulgaria.
Ages keep secret about the first human presence in this area but still remains from the late Paleolit and Neolit are found in the region. The Bronze Age is represented by finds near the villages of Krachimir, Rabisha(where are the unique cave drawings), Salash, and the Stone one- Krachimir, Dolni Lom and Dimovo. The presence of materials from the early and the late Antiquity in the territories of the villages of Granichak, Salash, Krachimir , Rabisha and the town itself are evidence for the incessant human activity. Very recently excavations were made in one cave(Kozarnika) about 10 km away from the present town and there were discovered a few funerals and artifacts, which according to the research were classified as the oldes one on the Balkan Peninsula and one of the oldest in Europe.The first mark of settling at the foot of the reddish massif are discovered in the region Selishte. During field work and drilling researches are found fragments of ceramics, farming implements and arms. Very close to The Brezova river are evident the foundation of an old Roman bath with the characteristic facilities. They are rich of coin finds. There are many from the Vespasian’s time(69-79), as the latest are from the time of Valerian(251-253). Romans first built a stronghold here (1st-3rd century). The Roman stronghold was built earlier than Bononia was and was the major one in the region. Wall was built to the North-West and one to South-east, as their width was 4-5 m, and the height- 12m. The three grounds in the stronghold were most probably connected to wooden ladders and ready for defense. In the rocks are caved two reservoirs about 2m wide and over 10m deep. The late Antiquity is testified by materials from the Stronghold(first slab), the stronghold Uzbeg, the Magaza area and the Markashnishkoto stronghold. Due to its bad location and the construction of the stronghold among the Belogradchik Rocks in 3rd century, the first settlement survived for a short period of time. The new settlement came into being neighboring on the stronghold in order to serve the garrison. This probably happened in 3rd century which is also proved by the nowadays existing Belogradchik stronghold.The settlement lived after the invasion of the Huns and the Byzantine rule during the period 5th- 6th century.
First Bulgarian Kingdom
The settlement and the stronghold continued to develop even during the early Middle Ages. Along with the growth of the importance of the Belogradchik stronghold grew and the settlement as it reached its efflorescence in the period of Sracimir’s rule.Already during The First Bulgarian Kingdom there were few important strongholds (except for the Belogradchik one) in the region, scattered within 50km radius of the town. The biggest was the stronghold Uzbeg, erected on a huge rock massif, inaccessible, with a big visual range(it was on the old Roman road which still played an important role then). The only access to the high stronghold was by rope-bridges, thrown from near rocks. Gradually, for unfamiliar to us reasons, the functions of this stronghold decreased and during the time of The Second Bulgarian Kingdom the Belogradchik stronghold remained the major one.
Second Bulgarian Kingdom
The foundations of the today’s town are laid during this period. The remains of clay furnaces(12th-14th century), a water-main, building materials and especially a coin discovery, consisting of 13 silver coins of Ivan Aleksandar and his son Mihail, talk about a big economic activity. In the region of Belogradchik were 14 going monasteries, as in some of them certain Vidin kings have spent their last years. In the end of 14th sentury, when in North-West Bulgaria the Vidin Kingdom of Ivan Sracimir is differentiated, Belogradchik grew as an important military-craft center- the second largest one after Vidin. The settlement and the stronghold fell under Turkish rule in 1396-probably together with Vidin. The period during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom for Belogradchik and its region is characteristic of big building activity, especially during 14th century, when the region of VIdin, parts of today’s Sarbia and Malo Vlashko(today’s Romania) differentiated as an independent kingdom. Its formation is prior to a long-term independent government of various local rulers in Vidin in 18th century. During this period Belogradchik turned into an important military-administrative center. According to some local historians it was in second place after the throne town of Vidin. Its name was Belegrad, Belgradin and Belgradets as different authors from this time used different names. Proof for the importance of the town during the Bdinsko Kingdom is the fact that the turks located a considerable garrison here and turned it into a center of the region named “kaaz” in the beginning of their rule, as they claim that the local administrative division was preserved.
After Bulgaria had been conquered by the Ottoman Turks Belogradchik preserved its administrative functions and importance. During the first decades of Ottoman Rule no a single Muslim was settled in the town, even these of the garrison. In spite of the assimilatory policy of the Gate, intensified after 1687, the Christian element was dominating and decisive even in 19th century. The Slavery had stronger influence on the economic and social state of the Bulgarians, whose income was predominantly smaller than this of the Muslims. This also had an effect on the development of the town. Three neighborhoods are differentiated, as in two of them, located very close to the Stronghold, Muslims settle down and in the third one-named Vinogradishte-Christians. A wooden fence with two gates separated the neighborhoods. All administrative buildings, craft workshops, shops and stalls were located in the first two neighborhoods, no matter whose property they were. The Christian( Church ) neighbourhood had its own appearance –neat, always limed in white houses. That is why the Turks left it its present name- Belogradchik( in Turkish “chik” is an suffix for diminutive, i.e. "The small Beograd". The main activities during the whole period remainеd stock-breeding, wine-producing and farming. In the 18th and 19th century crafts flourished: ironsmith and goldsmith’s trade. Homespun tailoring, tailoring and pottery-making. In Chiprovci was well developed ore-mining and the wash of gold. The traditions of the Chiprovksa carpet-weaving craft school still exist. The Bulgarian populations manifested high national consciousness and national revival spirit- the fight for Church and national independence.
The strive for culture and enlightenment of the population of the region is showed in the building of church schools, completely built with money from the local people.The architecture outlook of the town was enriched by the carving-decorated mosque "Hadgi Husein"-1771.
The period after set of the Liberty
The town preserved its craft appearance and its role of administrative and cultural center. Considerable building was done in this period. In 1894 the reading-room and the theatre were built, in 1901-the new school, in 1912- the new third-class hospital. A number of urban developing activities were done and new branches of Bulgarian National Bank and Agriculture Bank were opened.
In the chronicles of the national-revolutionary fights of the Bulgarians against the Ottoman Rule the fights of the population of North-West Bulgaria take a significant place. The historically developed conditions define Belogradchik as one of the centers of the revolts and uprisings that burst out in this region.The first manifestation of intolerance against the Slavery and an attempt to throw it off is the Konstantin and Frujin’s uprising-1401, who are the sons of Ivan Shishman and Ivan Sracimir. Almost the whole male population of North-West Bulgaria took part in it.The mood to throw off the enslavers was also maintained by the campaigns of Vladislav Varnenchik and Ian Huniadi. After the capturing of Vidin in 1444, a lot of Bulgarians from this region joined their armies. In the end of 15th century (1688) North-West Bulgaria was turned into and area of armed conflicts during the war between Turkey and Austria and the related to it Chiprovsko uprising. The repulsion of the Austrian armies and the suppression of the Chiprovsko uprising was followed by a real ruin of North-West Bulgaria, which didn’t leave behind the villages in the region of Belogradchik which took part in the uprising. In the end of the Russian-Turkish war of 1769-1774 an uprising burst out in the region of Vidin.During the period 15th-17th century a lot of haidouk bands were formed. The names of Balcho, Stoian and Milko, Velko, Kancho, Bojin and many others are very popular. Gradually the haidouk movement acquired a national-liberating character. This is clearly supported by the participation of whole bands in some revolts and uprisings.The revolutionary movements in North-West Bulgaria strengthened considerably in 19th century, which is explained by the development of the national revival processes. The not applied Hatosharifa and later Hatihumaiuna in these parts, also the liberating movements in Serbia, Greece, Bosnia and Hersigovina and Montenegro. A number of uprisings and revolts burst out: 1806,1821,1833,the revolt in Pirotsko in 1835, Manchovata buna 1836-1837. The next decade is marked by uprisings in Nishko-1841 and 1848-49, and the Pliuova sedition in April 1849.By the eve of 1850, the consciousness of the population had been revolutionized and the moment to organize the decisive battle against the enslaver had become imminent. The belogradchik leaders are showed in all sources and publications as the initiators of the uprising in 1850- valcho Bochev, Lilo Panov, grandpa Bojin, Nedialko the Vlah, Konstantin Ianev and Petko Kazandji. In the lead of the plotters came to be “bash knezat” of Colo Todorov, who was very popular among the population and was trusted by the Turkish authorities. During the preparation of the uprising Ivan Todorov took a considerable part. In the Rakovishki monastery meetings were held, where a lot of decision were made and a detailed plan for the preparation and the conducting of the uprising was made- the building of committees for the forthcoming propagandist activity and involvement of the whole population in the forthcoming events, the raising of money for weapons, the determinations and the tasks of the separate squads for the capturing of the main points, as well as determination of the groups. The belogradchik leaders also did and diplomatic act, which began with letters to the Serbian authorities, continued with letters to the leaders in areas of Vidin, Lom, Kula and Belogradchik and representatives were sent to Serbia and the Russian embassy in Romania. The reasons for the bursting of the uprising are the heavy national oppression and the striving for independence. Along with this, the sharpened conflict for the land between the peasants and farmers, lead to mass unrests and the joining of more than 15,000 people in the uprising. According to the plan made in advance the uprising had to be declared on June 1, 1850 (Spasovden). That is why the Turkish authorities came to know about its preparation prematurely.On 29th May 1859 the battle squads of the separate Belogradhick villages after destroying the existing Turkish farms headed towards Belogradchik and joined the siege of the stronghold. Some of them had to secure the rebels’ rear – to set up ambushes on the roads to the town. On 1 June the whole kaaz has been already in the hands of the peasants and the first attack the town has been undertaken.The uprising spread over Vidinsko, Kulsko and Lomsko. The rebels in the battles of Gradec and Dinkovo were defeated. After two unsuccessful attempts to capture the fortress, the rebels were surrounded by two Turkish squads. The started tough battle ended with a defeat for the peasants who even outnumbered were more poorly armed than the Turkish military divisions. 200-250 people died, as the total number of the people that died during the summer of 1850 reached 2507.The first stage of the development of the uprising ended with the peasants’ defeat. During the second stage the rebels organized fortifying camps in Stara Planina. Most certainly, the command center was in Vrashka Chuka. The defense of the roads and the villages that were undestroyed was provided by cavalry, which made the Turkish authorities search for a contact with the peasants in order to cease the unrest and bring them back in the villages. An agreement was reached to send a delegation of peasants to the Great Porte, where they had to present their request and the reasons that lead to the revolt. On August 14 the delegates were admitted by the Supreme Administrative Council and assured that their requests would be taken into consideration by the Sultan. In spite of this the question about the land remained undecided and in 1851 conditions for new uprising became ripe. This danger made the Porte solve the problem with the land. The land was given to the peasants in the form of shares which had to be paid off in 50 years. A municipal government was granted and the question for the autonomy of North Bulgaria was discussed, which resembles an undoubted success in the development of the national-liberating movement of Bulgaria. In the 60s and 70s years of 19th century continued the riots mainly related to the slow resolution of the question about the land- the Dimitraki Buna. The indigenous people took an active part in the fights of the detachment of Panaiot Hitov- 1863. Haidouk detachments from the region joined the fights near the village of Chuprene, Salash, Rakovica and Kiriaevo during the Serbian-Turkish war of 1876. There are evidence for uprisings in the villages around Belogradchik in April 1876, perhaps under the influence of the detachment of Panaiot Hitov. The end of the slavery came with the arrival of the Russion army on February 25, 1878 During the war between Serbia and Bulgaria in 1885 near Belogradchik detachments of the Bulgarian army under the command of lieutenant Dvorianov defeated the Serbian Protective detachment of the Tikmok army. After the victory the detachment drove out the Serbian army from the passages Saint Nikola and Kadaboaz. Lated thsese detachments took part in the fight by the village of Gaitanci. The plans of the Serbian commanding for invasion in Sofia through the Petrohan passage were discomfited, which finally influenced the end of the fights by Slivnica and Dragoman.