Vidin province is situated in the north-west part of Bulgaria and covers an area of 3 032.9 sq. km. Which is 2.73% of the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. The geographic location of province has facilitated its development as a transport, commercial, cultural and political center for centuries.
Vidin province is the entrance-exit gate of the Republic of Bulgaria for Europe and the world. To the north, it borders with the Republic of Romania, to the west, its neighbor is the Republic of Serbia, to the south, it is enclosed by the Balkan mountain, and to the east – it borders Montana province. The natural norther border – the Danube river enables direct connections with all countries of the Danube basin.
Two trans-European corridors run through the province: – European corridor No IV (Dresden – Prague – Bratislava – Gyor – Budapest – Arad – Craiova – Vidin – Sofia – Plovdiv – Istanbul, with a branch Sofia – Kulata – Thessaloniki) connecting the countries of Central Europe with Aegean Sea (Thessaloniki port) – European transport corridor No VII – river route Rhine – Main – Danube.
The province involves vast areas of various relief. The spacious riverside plains – Vidin and Archaro-Orsoyska are some of the most fertile lands turned into cultivated areas.
The territory of Vidin province includes 140 locations united in 11 municipalities – Belogradshik, Boynitsa, Bregovo, Vidin, Gramada, Dimovo, Kula, Makresh, Novo Selo, Ruzhintsi and Chuprene. The province has mainly urban population which is 63.38 % of the total population.
HISTORY OF VIDIN
The town of Vidin was established in ancient times. In the contemporary quarter of the city of Vidin Kaleto, finds from the Thracian period were discovered and were dated from VI c. B.C. There is information that in III c. B.C., the city was inhabited by Celts and was called Dunonia. Later on, Romans called the city with the name of Bononia and the Bulgarians called in Bdin (relating it to the verb “bdya” [stay on guard]). In the time of Roman Empire, it was among the major cities of the Upper Moesia Province encompassing lands from nowadays North-west Bulgaria and Eastern Serbia.
During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, Tsar Ivan Aleksandar assigned the control of Vidin Despot Unit to his son from his first wife – the Wallachian Teodora Basarab, Ivan Sratsimir and crowned him tsar who separated from Tarnovo Tsardom and established Bdin (Vidin) Tsardom that was later on conquered by the Osman Turks.
In 1444, Vidin was besieged by Vladislav Varnenchik and in 17 and 18 century, it was conquered by Austians, attacked by Hungarians and Romanians.
As part of the Ottoman Empire, Vidin was an important administrative and economic center (pashalik). From 1400 to 1700, Vidin was a part of a buffer zone between the Ottoman Empire and Austria and was conquered by the Austrian troops many times.
In 1738, the population in Vidin was mainly Turkish. For some time, is was in fact managed independently when Osmal Pazvantoglu was the ruler of Vidin region – from 1798 until 1807.
The city was the center of rebellions in 1773 and 1850.
The siege of Vidin during the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885 ended with success for Bulgarian who defeated all attacks of the Serbian army.
NATURE SIGHTS OF VIDIN PROVINCE:
- Magura cave – it is situated 1.5 km away from the village of Rabisha and 35 km south-west of the city of Vidin. The cave is accommodated for visitors and was declared a tourist sight in 1960 to an area of 83 hectares and location – the village of Rabisha, Belogradchik municipality, Vidin province. The cave was carved in the limestone Rabishka hillock (461 m altitude). One of the largest caves in Bulgaria – the total length of the currently discovered galleries is approximately 2,500 m. It consists of a main gallery oriented south-east – northwest, and three lateral branches. The separate halls have collosal dimensions – a length of more than 200 m, a width of more than 50 m and a height of more than 20 m;
- Belogradchik rocks – Belogradchik is 182 km northwest of the capital Sofia and 52 km south-west of the province center Vidin. One of the nature wonders in Bulgaria is Belogradchik rocks that surround the Triassic sandstones and conglomerates. The rocks are distributed over an approximate length of 30 km, a width of 3 to 5 km and an altitude of 200 m. Belogradchik rocks were declared nature phenomenon in 1949. This marvelous nature phenomenon has been carved by the dropping rain water and winds for 200 million years, turning the shapeless stone into sculptures resembling mythological creatures, human silhouettes, animals and birds. In 2007, Belogradchik rocks were nominated in the contest “The New seven Wonders of the World” and had one of the leading positions although they did not reach the final round;
- Venetsa cave is in Kraishte area, approximately 3 km away from Oreshets railway station and 14 km away from the city of Belogradchik. It has been opened for visits since 1 June 2015 with a guide from the local speleologist club Bel Prilep at the tourist society Belogradchishki Skali, the town of Belogradchik. Venetsa cave is among the most beautiful caves in the region around Belogradchik. The cave has a great number of various formations. Ice crystals, stalactites, stalagmites, aragonite crystals, grape-shaped stalactite (something rare for Bulgarian caves), calcite formations, etc. can be seen there. Various crystals are scattered on the whole floor due to the crystallization of the water and minerals in the surrounding rocks. There is a formation similar to Virgin Mary;
- Kozarnika cave – It is situated in the rocks approximately 3,5 km away from the village of Gara Oreshets in the direction of the town of Belogradchik. There is a steep path starting from a lay-by on the road leading to the cave after a walk of 250 meters. Venetsa cave supplied with electricity is nearly. In 1996, excavations were done in the cave. They revealed a late Paleolithic culture of 37-34 millennium B.C. It differs significantly from its contemporary findings in Temnata Dupka and Bacho Kiro and shows similarity with cultures spread in Western Europe several millennia later. The cave was inhabited in the late Paleolithic but the lower layers are of greatest importance. They are dated back to 1.4 million years ago. A tooth of a representative of the species Homo, maybe Homo erectus, was found there. If the dating is correct, this would be the oldest evidence of presence of people in Europe.
- Byalata Voda waterfall – the waterfall is in a pine forest in Byalata Voda area, in the territory of the village of Stakevtsi, Belogradchik municipality, Vidin province, on an area of 1.6 hectares. The distance from the village of Stakevtsi to Belogradchik is 18 km, and to Vidin – 70 km. Huddled high in the nooks of the Balkan mountains, the beautiful waterfall supplements the scenery of the virgin nature in this region. The height of the waterfall is approximately 15 meters with two water heads and is in a very beautiful vicinity.
- Rabishko lake – Rabishko lake is the largest internal lake in Bulgaria in terms of size, it is situated between the villages of Topovitsa and Rabisha, Belogradchik region, at the western end of the Pre-Balkan, at the north-east foot of Rabishka hillock, 40 kilometers away from the town of Vidin. Its depth reaches 10-15 meters. With the movement of earth layers, a local kettle was formed whose bottom was subsequently filled with a significant amount of water. It is an extremely exquisite natural abnormality. It has a tectonic origin. The lake almost lacks a drainage basin and is drainless.
- The Resurrection of Christ Rock Monastery of Albotin – the Rock Monastery of Albotin (also called Albutin Monastery) is a non-functioning medieval rock monastery in the territory of Kula bishop’s vicarage, in Vidin eparchy, situated in the area of Albotin (Albutin) on the river Topolovets between the villages of Gradets and Rabrovo, near and adjacent to the village of Deleyna. Albotin Rock Monastery or, to be more precise, the foot of the rock in which it was carved, can be reached by car from the town of Vidin or from the town of Kula. The monastery itself can be reached on a narrow steep path, at whose base, Haidouk Fountain was built. The monastery is situated high in the rock at whose foot, there is a wide meadow irrigated by a nice spring. There is a picturesque view from it.
- Chuprene reserve – Chuprene biosphere reserve has an area of 1,439 hectares. In 1977, Chuprene was include in the list of biosphere reserves in the Man and Biosphere program of UNESCO. There are 3 protected zones, 12 nature sights and 5 historical sites in the area. Here, there are the world-known rock formations – Belogradchik rocks, Borov Kamar, Chuturite and Magura and Venetsa caves. It was created in 1973 as a strictly guarded territory in order to protect the northernmost coniferous forests of Bulgaria. Approximately 90% of it are covered with coniferous, deciduous forests of spruce, fir-tree, maple and birch and the remaining part belong to high mountain pastures, stone rivers and barren spreads of land. The average age of the coniferous plants is more than 110 years and they cover 68,6 % of the territory.
- Midzhur peak – a height of 2168 meters is the highest one in Chiprovska mountain, a part of the Balkan mountains. It is at the border between Bulgaria (Vidin province) and Serbia. Its foot is the source of the rivers Lom and Timok. The point defining its exact locations is fully in Bulgaria and the border is several meters aside. 2 pyramids of up to 50 cm were constructed there with inscriptions left by Bulgarian and Serbian tourists. Midzhur peak is the highest one in the Western Balkan mountains.
- Chuturite nature phenomenon – geological phenomenon called Chuturite [mortars] by people is near the town of Gramada, approximately 300 meters away from the road coming from the town of Dunavtsi. The stone forest near Gramada, as it is also known, covers an area of approximately twenty decares. The stone mortars is the name of large stones with holes in the middle, they are of great number and are a nature phenomenon.
CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL SITES IN VIDIN PROVINCE
- Baba Vida fortress – Baba Vida fortress is the only fully preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria. It is situated on a large curve of the Danube river near the city. Bada Vida fortress is at the end of Danube riverside part in eastern direction, in close proximity to the Danube bank. The castle is known under the name of Baba Vida towers or Baba Vida. Baba Vida fortress is a monument of culture of national importance and is among the 100 national tourist sites of the Republic of Bulgaria.
- Epigraphic Center and Lapidarium – Vidin – is next to Baba Vida fortress. The Archeological Museum – Epigraphic Center is housed in the building of a former Turkish warehouse. The museum has 38 epigraphic monuments that date back from Antiquity to 19 c. The exhibits are architectural elements, gravestones and other cultural values. The epigraphic monuments were found in the territory of Vidin province.
- The Cross-shaped Barrack – the Cross-shaped Barrack is in the oldest part of the city of Vidin, near the Danube riverside park and St. Petka church. The building of the Cross-shaped Barrack is unique for the Balkan peninsula. The Cross-shaped Barrack was built in 1801 at the place where the garden of the Old Seraglio (the palace of the pasha) was. The building in the form of cross was built by Polish and French specialists for the Turkish garrison led by Pasha Osmal Pazvantoglu (1794-1807). After the Liberation of Bulgaria, the building was used for martial court and barrack of the Bulgarian army. At present, the building is used for exhibiting ethnographic expositions of the Regional Historical Museum of Vidin.
- Koluka Turkish Police Station – the city of Vidin – The police station is an original architectural monument of culture of local importance. It is in the central urban part of Vidin. There is a parking zone in front of it. The building was constructed in the second half of 18 c. At first, Turks used it for police station and in 1870s, it was provided to the Bulgarian church unit. It is two-floor but, due to its many repairs, it has not preserved many of the elements of its initial form. In 1956, it was modified into a museum that traces the history of Vidin and Vidin region from early ancient times until the Liberation;
- Turkish Post Office – the city of Vidin – It was constructed in the second half of ХІХ century especially for postal need. Most probably, it was finished in 1859 when Vidin was connected by telegraph to various European cities. It is a massive two-floor building with a safety vault in its basement. This is the only preserved old post office in Bulgaria. It is in the Danube riverside park next to the mosque and the library of Osmal Pazvantoglu
- Saint Dimitar Cathedral – the city of Vidin; – Saint Dimitar cathedral in Vidin is a cathedral church of Vidin eparchy. The temple is the second largest in Bulgaria after Saint Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. The church was declared monument of culture of national importance in Official Gazette, issue 84 of 31 October 1975. The temple is situated in the center of the city in a park, 500 meters away from the bus station of the city of Vidin. The functioning Christian church is in a good condition and provides free access.
- Sveta Petka Church – the city of Vidin – According to the inscription above the front door, the church was constructed on older foundations in 1634. The Slavonic inscription above the entrance to the naos that was preserved until the beginning of 20 century dated its construction back to 1636. It says that the painting of the temple was done with the help of the Wallachian voivode Yoan Matey Basaraba at the time of the Metropolitan of Vidin Sofroniy in 1646. The building of the church is one-body, semi-dug into the ground, with a semi-cylindrical vault placed under a dual-pitched roof.
- Mosque and Library of Osman Pazvantoglu – the city of Vidin – the mosque of Osman Pazvantoglu is a Muslim temple in the city of Vidin. Besides the mosque, the architectural ensemble contains also a library. They are in the City Garden (Danue riverside park) opposite the metropolitan’s complex in Kaleto (the Old City). They are declared monument of culture of national importance.
- Synagogue – the city of Vidin – It is near Baba Vida fortress. It is situated in a trapezium-shaped land plot (a triangle with a cut sharp angle) in close proximity to the Danube riverside park. Vidin synagogue is historically second or third in line Judaic temple in the city of Vidin. The previous one was destroyed during the Liberation War (1877-1878). It was built within one year and officially opened on 28 September 1894.
- Castra Martis Roman fortress – the city of Kula is situated in the center of the city of Kula in a park, 32 km south-west of the city of Vidin and 13 km. away from the border with Serbia where the border checkpoint Vrashka Chuka is. The fortress dates back approximately to the end of III century and played an important role in the defence of those lands in IV- VI century;
- Belogradchik fortress – the city of Belogradchik – Belogradchik fortress, also called Belogradchik kale, was constructed among the unapproachable Belogradchik rocks when the Bulgarian state had yet not been established and the Balkan peninsula was a part of the Roman Empire. Belogradchik fortress is one of the most preserved fortresses in the country. Using the natural inaccessibility of the rocks in I-III century, Romans maintained it to defend the strategic roads that cross the region.
- Belogradchik Science Museum – it has more than 3000 exhibits of the flora and fauna of north-west Bulgaria. On the small area of museum, its guests can see the most attractive part of the rich biological variety of the whole north-west Bulgaria. The exhibits are arranged according the principle of ecology giving a clear impression of the relations in nature.
- Belogradchic Historical Museum – The historical museum in the city of Belogradchik was established in 1970 and is accommodated in Panov’s house – a model of Bulgarian renaissance architecture. This monument of culture was built in 1810 and has preserved its renaissance appearance until present day.