This amazing place is situated in Stara Planina Mountain, just next to the city of Vratsa. It is only 5 min far by car but local people go often on foot as it seems to be a pleasant walk, especially in the hot summer. The massive rocks are really impressive and the highest reaches a height of 450m. In the past there used to be a Medieval Fortress called Vratitsa. That name comes from the word “vrata” which means door. The narrowest part of the Gorge looks like a big gate. There is a great park suitable for different outdoor activities.
I love caves and I’m working on going through as many as I can and up to now I’ve seen a lot of them in Bulgaria. Each one is unique with something and has its own beauty.
I’m starting this review like this as I think that Ledenika is one of the most beautiful I’ve been in. Its length is about 300m and has 10 halls. The first one is very close to the mouth of the cave so when in winter time is very cold, in the first hall could become -10-15 degrees and ice figures are formed. That is why the cave has this name – Ledenika (‘leden’ means icy).
The biggest hall is the concert one. The interesting here is that here is the only one cave in Bulgaria where are taken real classical concerts. Of course they cannot last for more than 20 minutes as inside is around 8 degrees all the time.
In the highest place of the cave is situated the “Lake of the desires”. It’s believed that if you touch the cold water and you wish something, your wish will come true.
It takes about 0.5-1 hour for the tour depending on how big the group is. The ticket cost 2 EUR for adults and 1 EUR for kids and students.
This is one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria, which is near Vratsa. There are many interesting underground views.
Baba Iliica is a woman born in 1820 and she helped a lot to one man of the Botev detachment when Botev (Great Bulgarian Revolutionist and poet) was killed at the nearby peak – Okolchica (20.05.1876 when there were rebellions against the Ottomans in Bulgaria). She crossed the Iskar river on her boat and she saved the rebel.
After the Liberation, in 1899, one of the first people that come to these places is Ivan Vazov, another famous and great poet. He was told about that heroic feat of baba Iliica (grandma Iliica) and wrote one of his most popular novels, called “One Bulgarian Woman”.
The real name of baba Iliica was Penka but her husband was Ilia and in the past women were called with their husband’s names.
In 2003, the family of baba Iliica decided to build her house the same it used to look at the end of 19-th century and turn it into museum. The house is very small, only one room and this shows that to help others and especially for the Liberation you don’t have to be rich.
The village Chelopek, where baba Iliica has lived is about 15 km south-west of Vratsa on the way to Okolchica peak where there was a huge battle with the Ottomans.
Several years ago I boarded a creaky and slow train from Sofia to Vrasta in search of a nice place to hike. My efforts in finding the right train in the at that time only semifunctional Sofia train station were richly rewarded. The slow trip of a couple of hours winds through beautiful mountains , streams, and pools. Vrasta itself is nothing to write home about, a melange of disintegrating Stalinist architecture and plazas, but the scenery therabouts borders on the spectacular. I hiked up the main route leading out of town into the mountains and eventually followed the very steep course of an old ski lift to a beautiful high plateau. It was a long hike, and I retuned eight hours blistered and tired, but it was well worth it . Two beers at a pleasant sidewalk cafe topped off a day I still think back on with pleasure six years later.
I had a chance to travel to Vratsa a lot, because there is a branch of our company there. I am happy I have colleagues who live there, so they took me out for a walk around the town and I could see the beautiful nature and visit places I never knew before.
It is strange, but I never liked the town before. It is grey and industrial, the buildings are ugly and when the weather is bad you can see only greyness. It is sad.
Well, we decided to celebrate the company anniversary there, so my colleagues from Vratsa arranged everything-hotel, restaurant, trip etc. We put up in the hotel "Chajka". It is 500m away from the centre of Vratsa at the direction to the Ledenika cave. The hotel is situated near the rock gate of the pass "Vratsata"-a beautiful rock massif.
The hotel was very pleasant. I was impressed by the cooking and good service.
Fondest memory: Ledenika cave, 16km west of Vratsa:
It is famous since the Ottoman bondage when the shepherds used the place to store the milk.
This is one of the most interesting Bulgarian caves. It was opened for tourists in 1961. The temperature varies from -7 to 15 degrees. The air moisture is 92 percents. There are 10 halls in the cave.
There are several halls with wonderful formations, the most impressive is the Concert hall (60 m long, 46 m wide and 22.7 m high). It has a fantastic acoustics. A lot of concerts are performed there.
The pass "Vratsata":
It is a rocky massif with wonderful cliffs, some of them are high 350 metres. This region is very good for rock climbers. There are a lot of different categories of climbing routes.
It is situated near Vratsa. It is founded in 13th century and it has been demolished several times during the Ottoman bondage. It was restored in the end of 19th century. The astonishing nature and beautiful old buildings make you feel as you are in Paradise.