This is the central most of the town. At their center is a small fountain and area for parking cars. The square is not very attractively done and the center is not so developed. I saw only few shops, restaurants, bistros, supermarket, and one hotel. Buildings for public use like the town hall, library, museum, are located here but not so obviously made. They look old and unrepaired. Police station is also found just on the same road of the square but a bit hidden and unexposed. The only popularly known hotel in town is the Hotel Skalite which is found at 2, Vuzrajdane Sq. besides the town square.
Visiting the Rocks is meant for all kinds of people young or older people who still have the guts to climb and enjoy the beautiful Panorama of the town on all sides. The climb is really not that hard. There is no hurry. You can do it in very slow and special way till you reach the Top. In my pictures you will see how many elderly people climbed and still enjoyed till to the topmost because they didn´t hurry they enjoyed every move and these awesome stone formations entertained every one’s eyes.
Actually it is not too stiff to climb up to the Top of the Rocks. It takes around 50 minutes with photo shoots interval. If you enter the second Entrance of the Fortress on the feet of the Rocks you can see right away the stairs going to the upper part. The first part of the stairs are made of concrete with combination of wooden handrails at one side and iron bars at the other side. On the higher level the stair ways are made of stable iron bars and steel. They are very stable and securely well-fixed that you have nothing to worry about or afraid that you might fell down. There were lots of elder people who went up to the topmost and enjoyed the awesome Panorama. If you start early around 8:30 am then the sun is not too hot yet and the Rocks in the inner part of the complete complex are well lighted by the rising sun and this is a great opportunity that you can take beautiful pictures of the inner rocks. When the sun sets then you can have the shady side of the rocks. But no worries, the view itself from the top is so impressive and fascinating. There´s a natural wide platform at the top where you can take rest at the big stones under a tree. There you can see also a waving Bulgarian Banner on top of a pole. The sides of the platform are bounded with ironed bars for protection. If you go beyond this boundary it is of your own risk. If you climb midday in summer please don´t forget to wear wide hat and sunglasses or sun cream protection against sunburn. Comfortable shoes or trekking sandals for climbing is advisable. If you bring some snacks or foods to the top please don´t forget to bring plastic bag for the wastes and bring them back to the main entrance garbage. No garbage can on top and no built in chairs to rest. The Fortress will close around 17:30 (5:30 pm). Entrance fee is 3-4 lev per person.
Watching all these impressive rock formations might be very interesting play for your imagination or maybe a kind of mental activity just to keep your mind busy, active and fresh ;-) Maybe you can raise some questions of what can this rock figure mean? This may not be a big deal for some. but for those people who love to activate their imaginations and fantasy then this might be something exciting and challenging game of interpreting the symbols in your own way. I was one of those who was challenged and i loved to guess and to picture out some of these legendary Rock formations and i tried to interpret and imagine some of them like symbols of real human figures. (see my Photos). Maybe with a Bulgarian bottle of beer in the hand and with a little fantasy you can make your own.
If you are a lover of paintings, on your way before you enter the main entrance of the Fortress there are local artist selling some of their interesting paintings in Aquarel or some in Oil about the Rocks Formations with good prices. Also, they sell wooden carvings and Telescopes to view closer some special points of interests. On the opposite side besides the only Bulgarian Bistro are small wooden Huts close to each other in one row where Belogradchik souvenirs are displayed from Postcards, Magnets for Fridge, pillowcases made by the Local people and there is one Ice cream shop. The shops are very practically made and very simple.
Rabisha lake can be seen from the exit of Magurata cave. The cave is on a higher place, so when you go out, you can see the lake lying bellow.
It had rained while we were in the cave, so when we went out, we were lucky to see two beautiful rainbows.
The lilacs and other trees were in blossom, so the view was even more beautiful.
When you go to the Magura cave make sure you have nice shoes(no highhills or with flat sole), dark pants, jacket and no fear from slippery places(and dark places)!
When you are going in with a group, which I think is unavoidable, you have a tourist guide inside the cave. But:
1. You are told nothing.
2. If you walk slowly and can't catch up, he/she doesn't wait for you so you can get lost.
Yes, you realy don't hear a word from this woman (in my case it was a female individual)... No! Sorry she said two things ('It could be muddy.' and 'Goodbye!'). It's kind of amazing - the entrance fee is 2 leva, which is not much if compared with the European taxes. And also the problem with getting lost in the labirint of tunels is possible if the group is more 40 people and you are one of the slowest. Nobody is waiting for you! Not even the guide... But the top of all wasn't even the lights. The lights are grouped, when they are set on they have a 'turn off' time so if you are one of those who are walking too 'fast' you woud have to walk in semi-complete darknes. Sounds nice, ah? The cherry of it all is the flooring. Some places are with clay, which is okay even when you think you'll get stuck in it but athers are with cobbles. This areas are more common in the cave and most of them are wet. What about parapets? Alright they have... some. You can use them to keep walking, you can use them to stay standing at the stairs (a lot, with narrow steps)... But they are some very dangerous places without ones... A rising slope cobined with a curve and precipices near the path is awful when the cobbles are terribly sllipery and there's no parapet.
I can't recommend Magurata cave for children especially if they are little. It's not for babys in baby bags either - the parent could fall and injure both of them.
When you go to this amazing Bulgarian cave make sure you have:
1. Good walking shoes - sllipery cobbles.
2. Jacket - maximum of 6 degrees inside.
3. Photo camera - amazing rocks and drawings.
4. Courage - dangerous zones.
Belogradchik is a small town situated in between two ridges of the Western Balkan Mountain (Stara Planina), 185 km Northwest of Sofia, 50km Southwest of Vidin, and close to the Serbian border. It’s a charming town whose steep narrow streets lead you to the spectacular fortress and rocks. On the way there, you can visit the Historical Museum, set in the former Panov’s house, a typical Bulgarian Revival house, built in 1810. Other places of interest include an 118th-century mosque, St. George’s church from the 17th century, and the Astronomical Observatory with one of the biggest telescopes in Bulgaria.
In the vicinity there are many places of interest: the Rabisha lake, Bulgaria’s largest inland lake, Magurata cave and over 100 more caves, the town of Vidin with it’s fortress at the Danube river and many others. If you have the chance, drive through the charming villages in the area! (see Off the beaten path)
The rock paintings are amazing, they look to me like an ancient form of graffiti. And the paint used was guano, which is, yes, bat sh1t!!! They were done about 10 000 years ago and depict mainly hunting scenes. The Solar Calendar from the Late Eneolith and Early Bronze Age is very exact.
The cave was first inhabited about 12 thousand years ago. There are many findings from various periods: home fragments, stoves and fireplaces, tools, metal, ceramics, bones. Different animal ones were also found: cave bear, wild horse, cave hyena, deer, etc.
There are some very beautiful cave formations: stalactites, stalagmites, stalactones, cave pearls and cave milk. Some resemble various objects and have been given nicknames: The Waterfall, the Poplar, Köln’s cathedral, the Muslim City, the Stoned Town, the Concert Hall, the Temple and the Mosque, etc. As we entered without guide we had to guess which was which for ourselves, some were easy to guess, some, not so much.
The Big Stalactone is more than 20m high and 4m wide. The Fallen Pine is the biggest stalagmite in Bulgaria, at 11m long and 6m wide.
Magurata Cave is one of Bulgaria’s largest and most beautiful. It’s situated 25km from Belogradchik, , 1,5km from the village of Rabisha, and 35km from Vidin. The total length of the galleries discovered so far is around 2,5 km. The cave halls are huge, over 200 m long, 50m wide, and 20m high.
The cave started forming about 15 million years ago. It was shaped by a Tortonian river. There are great rock formations there as well as ancient rock paintings! One of the branches is serving as a cellar for sparkling wine production.
The cave is electrified and guided tours are offered. They last about an hour and a half, and start as soon as a group of 10 people or more gather. The last one starts at 4pm. When we arrived there were no other people and since we were in a hurry we were let in without a guide, and managed to go around in one hour. Although the cave is electrified and there are railings, watch your step as some of the paths are steep, and damp, better wear suitable shoes!
Entrance fee is 4 lv, they also sell some postcards and brochures. The exit at the end of the guided tour, at the lake of Rabisha. So if you park at the entrance, you’ll have to walk back about 1,5 km or arrange to be picked up. Since we went on our own, we came back the same way. There is a parking and a restaurant at the entrance (see Restaurant tip).
There are three courtyards and three gateways. The gates are made of thick wood, reinforced with metal stripes. You can see some of them in the pics. Since the fortress is situated on a hill, you have a great panorama of the town bellow, and the rocks included in it or surrounding it. The views are just amazing! You can climb all the way to the top of some of the rocks, just be careful. You have a 360-degree view of pure beauty!
The fortress is illuminated at night, and is a working museum, open every day from 8am till 8pm in the summer, and from 9am till 4:30 pm in the winter. Entrance is only 3lv ($2 or E1,5). The ticket desk is right across from the first entrance. They also sell postcards (0,60 – 0,70lv), T-shirts (10lv), brochures and maps (2-5 lv), fridge magnets (2-3lv), etc. There is also a small café next to the ticket office (see nightlife tip). There is parking right at the entrance, but you can also walk from the town, there are signs everywhere.
In the first period of construction (1st – 6th centuries AD), the fortress was built and rebuilt by the Romans and Byzantines. Many artifacts from that period were found, including coins from the times of Roman Emperors Vespassian, Trayanus, Spetimus Sever, Gordian III, Decius Trayanus. Later the fortress was used and modified by the Bulgarians. The Vidin ruler, Ivan Stratsimir (1355-1396) fortified and enlarged it. In 1396 the fortress was conquered and partially destroyed by the Ottoman Turks. It was hardly maintained until the 19th century, when in 1805 French engineers were hired to modify and enlarge it. It was finished in 1837 with the help of Italian engineers.
There are four distinct groups of rocks around the town. Besides that, driving towards Sofia, for kilometers on you can see more and more rocks, you pass villages having great views of these amazing formations (see my Off the beaten path tips).
One of the groups is at the site of the fortress. Actually it was kind of built in the rocks so some of them serve as part of the walls. I think that was very smart of the Romans (the first builders) to use the natural defensive properties of the hill and rocks to build a stronghold. This combination of a natural phenomenon and a historical fortress, both amazingly beautiful, is just unbeatable. It’s a great place to visit both for natural lovers and history buffs.
Although they are not on UNESCO World Heritage list (yet), the Belogradchik Rocks are in the files, here’s part of the text on UNESCO’s site:
”Located int he immediate vicinity of the town of Belogradchik in north-west Bulgaria and covering an area of 15000 hectares, they represent a stricking combination of natural sculptures of diverse shapes and imposing sizes. They represent a succession o all geological processes which have formed the big Belogradchik anticline. The nucleus of this anticline is formed of Paleozoic rock, while the mantle and the front part are Triassic conglomerates, sandstone and Jurassic limestone. Broad-leaved vegetation grows amid the individual groups of rock. The area abounds in rich flora and fauna, as well as in archaeological sites. “
Definitely, one of the most beautiful sight I’ve seen in my live!! The Belogradchik rocks are amazing rock formations found around the town. The rocks reach up to 300 metres in height. They cover an area of 15 000 hectares, spreading in a strip 30km long and up to 3 km wide. They were formed by erosion from sandstone and limestone over 200 million years!! It took so long for Mother Nature to sculpture these fantastic shapes. Some rocks look like people and objects, so people gave them names, such as Adam and Eve, the Schoolgirl, the Monks, the Nun, the Pine, etc. If you have more time to wander around, it might be interesting to try and guess nicknames.