Ah, Belogradchik! Before we visit it, I had this idea that the rocks can only be seen inside and around the Kaleto fortress. Nobody told us, that the entire Belogradchik is surrounded by them and the fortress is simply the highest point with a view to the entire city and all rock formations surrounding it.
We decided to finally see Belogradchik at the end of September last year. Staying in Montana, we drove from there to Belogradchik. Actually, we did it twice – day 1 was way too foggy.
To illustrate what I mean when I say foggy, see the pics below. I couldn’t help but wonder if Harry Potter will pop out of somewhere, riding his broom.
Since we didn’t really manage to see the world wide famous rocks we decided to repeat the exercise on the next day. Luckily the weather was our ally.
Belogradchik’s red rocks are remarkably interesting and as you can see from the photos – breathtakingly beautiful. The minute you approach the city you realize that it would be fairer if we say that Belogradchik is located among the rocks and not the other way around…
If you’ve decided to visit it, I strongly recommend you stop somewhere before entering the town itself. Here is where we stopped and the views we had:
Short history of the Kaleto fortress in Belogradchik
The fortress Kaleto was initially built in Roman times for surveillance purposes but it was used and expanded by the Bulgarians during the 14th century, then exploit again by the Turks during the Ottoman ruling in Bulgaria. Nowadays it is in the hands of the local History museum and the entrance fee for visitors is 5 leva. We failed to notice the cashier booth upon entering and a lady was running after us screaming, so I suggest you make sure you pay the fee.
The legend of the Belogradchik’s Rocks
Centuries ago there was a nunnery hidden among the beautiful rocks. Early every morning the monastery’s bells called the nuns to prayer. The youngest one of them, Vitinya was extremely beautiful and even the cassock was unable to hide it. Soon after she entered the nunnery, rumors about her incredible graciousness were spread around and reached even the farthest ends of the Roman Empire. On the day of St. Peter, when even regular people were allowed to enter monasteries, nun Vita met Antonio. It was a love at the first side, but they had to hide it from the world. At those times, it was absolutely unthinkable for a nun to love another human being. When few months later Vita gave birth to their child, however, their love was no longer a secret… The cry of the child echoed in the entire monastery announcing their sin to the world. After discovering the betrayal, the elderly nuns gathered together and decided to curse Vita and throw her out of the monastery along with the baby. On the day she was walked out, Antonio appeared before the gates begging the nuns for mercy. Outraged, the nuns declined and something mysterious happened: clouds covered the sky and darkness surrounded them. A single thunder destroyed the monastery and turned everyone into statues – Antonio on his horse, the nuns and even Vita holding her kid. This was God’s message to the people reminding them they should never turn against each other, especially when love is involved.
Getting to Belogradchik and some additional info
The reason it took us forever to visit Belogradchik are the road conditions. In all honesty, as beautiful as the rocks are, I know for a fact that it will take us a while to go back there and we will certainly combine it with other things to see and do in the area. It’s not because it is not worth it, but because driving there was nearly a nightmare.
Due to the above said, here are some suggestions. There are two roads which you can take from Sofia to Belogradchik. One of them goes through the mountain and is shorter while the other one is a little longer, but the road is (for what we’ve heard) better. Since we passed through the mountains I can only talk about this experience and I strongly suggest you avoid it. The road is not that bad really, but some of the drivers are completely nuts and will keep you on your toes. Not a nice way to travel.