Are you looking for the best Bulgarian castles to visit?
Bulgaria, a stunning nation in Southeast Europe, is known for its varied landscapes, rich history, and unique cultural heritage. But what about Bulgarian castles?
Well, among other things, this country is known for its amazing castles, forts and ruins, which are full of historical significance and feats of architecture.
We’ll delve into the most stunning castles in Bulgaria in this blog article, learning about their significance, history, and the stories they have to tell. Just like I did with the Slovakian castles in a previous blog.
Beautiful Castles in Bulgaria: Which ones to visit?
As mentioned, there are a lot of beautiful castles and similar sites in Bulgaria!
And even though everyone has different perceptions of beauty, here is a list of the country’s most stunning and well-known castles that you should not miss:
1. Tsarevets Fortress
This historic castle, which is situated in Veliko Tarnovo, served as the Second Bulgarian Empire’s first capital. The stronghold is located on top of a hill and gives you breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings.
The Patriarchal Cathedral, the Tower of Baldwin, and the magnificent walls of Tsarevets Fortress are its most well-known features.
You can also experience a breathtaking sound and light performance that highlights the fortress’s history through music and images here.
2. Baba Vida Fortress
In Vidin, on the banks of the Danube River, you can see this fortress that has been wonderfully kept.
Baba Vida, the only completely intact medieval fortress in Bulgaria, served as a vital fortification during the First and Second Bulgarian Empires.
You can get a real sense of Bulgarian medieval architecture at the stronghold, which has fortified walls, watchtowers, and a moat.
3. Belogradchik Fortress
This fortress, which is located in the village of Belogradchik, is known for its unique rock formations and breathtaking views. The Belogradchik Rocks, a natural feature formed by erosion over millions of years, surround the castle.
The fortification was originally built during the Roman era and later enlarged during the Ottoman Empire.
One of the most stunning castles in Bulgaria, the location combines architectural intrigue with natural beauty. Definitely one of my favorites!
4. Asen’s Fortress
This medieval stronghold, also known as Asenova krepost, is situated close to Asenovgrad and will give you some stunning views of the Rhodope Mountains.
The Second Bulgarian Empire’s most important fortress was Asen’s Fortress, which was constructed under the rule of Tsar Ivan Asen II.
The Church of the Holy Mother of God, which boasts stunning frescoes and unique architecture, is one of the fortress’s most spectacular structures.
It also has a watchtower and remnants of defended walls,
Perperikon is a sacred site for the ancient Thracians and a significant archeological site close to Kardzhali. It really has spectacular remains.
During the Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine eras, it is thought that the location was a prominent religious and political center.
The ruins of a palace, temples, and an old acropolis are open for you to explore, providing a window into Bulgaria’s ancient past.
6. Ovech Fortress
This historic stronghold is situated in Provadia and provides sweeping views of the neighbourhood from its plateau. Ovech Fortress was inhabited by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, and Bulgarians among others.
It was first built in the third century. The rock-cut stronghold has a maze-like network of tunnels and chambers as well as the ruins of a chapel, towers, and defensive walls.
7. Plovdiv’s Ancient Theater
Although this isn’t a typical castle, Plovdiv’s well-preserved Roman amphitheater is a significant historical site.
Today, plays, concerts, and other cultural events are being held at the historic theater that was constructed in the second century AD.
The theater is a unique and lovely location to visit because of its gorgeous architecture and incorporation into the cityscape.
8. Kaliakra Fortress
You’ll find this magnificent stronghold near the charming Cape Kaliakra on the Black Sea coast. The 4th century BC-old Kaliakra Fortress served as a vital fortification during the Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, and Bulgarian eras.
It’s a favorite spot for tourists and photographers. The fortress offers stunning views of the surrounding cliffs and the sea.
9. Rila Monastery
Although it’s not your typical castle, Bulgaria’s magnificent monastery is a significant historical and cultural institution.
The monastery, which was established in the tenth century by Saint John (Ivan) of Rila, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has stunning murals, elaborate wood carvings, and unique architecture.
The monastery is even more beautiful and alluring because it is tucked away in the Rila Mountains (as you can see behind the monastery on the photo).
10. Lovech Fortress
This fortress, which is located in the town of Lovech, has a long history and will give you stunning views of the surroundings.
The Romans initially constructed the stronghold, and the First and Second Bulgarian Empires afterwards added to it.
You can get a look into Bulgaria’s medieval history at Lovech Fortress, which still has fortified walls, towers, and a medieval church.
11. Sostra Fortress
This historic Roman fortification is close to the community of Lomets and boasts magnificent archeological remains and well-preserved ruins.
The castle, which was built in the second century AD, served as a crucial rest area for travellers travelling along the Roman route that connected the Danube River with the Aegean Sea.
The Roman Empire’s architectural prowess is on display as visitors explore the ruins of fortified walls, turrets, and a Roman bath.
Castles in Sofia, Bulgaria
There aren’t many castles in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, despite the city’s reputation for its thriving urban life and historical sites. Nonetheless, there are some historical locations that are worth checking out.
12. Boyana Church
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and renowned for its magnificent murals, this medieval cathedral is situated on the outskirts of Sofia.
You’ll find a rare fusion of Byzantine, Bulgarian, and European architectural forms in the church, which was built in the tenth century.
13. Vrana Palace
The Bulgarian royal family’s official house is this royal palace, which is located just outside of Sofia and is encircled by a lovely garden.
A fusion of European and Bulgarian architectural forms can be seen in the palace, which dates to the early 20th century.
14. National History Museum
This museum, which is housed in a former official palace, is filled with historical treasures, such as pieces from medieval and ancient castles. The museum provides a thorough picture of Bulgarian history, spanning from ancient times to the present.
I would strongly encourage a day trip to nearby sights like the Asen’s Castle or the Lovech Fortress when you’re passionate and interested in castles.
Visiting Bulgaria: FAQs
In case the list of castles above made you excited to visit Bulgaria, these questions below might help you.
What is Bulgaria famous for?
The majestic Rila and Pirin Mountains and the lovely Black Sea coast are just two examples of Bulgaria’s breathtaking landscapes.
The country is known for its deep cultural heritage, which includes bustling towns, the Rose Valley, and traditional Bulgarian yogurt. Most people will also know Sofia, the capital city of the country.
Bulgaria also gave birth to the Cyrillic script, which is today used by more than 250 million people worldwide(!).
And yes, Bulgaria also does have castles as listed above! These ancient fortifications serve as examples of the country’s rich historical and architectural history.
For tourists and history fans alike, Bulgaria offers a fascinating look into the past with its ancient castles, ruins, monasteries and well-preserved medieval fortresses.
It’s a great mix of architecture that you can find in this country.
What is the biggest Bulgarian castle?
Most people in Bulgaria agree that the biggest and most important castle is the Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo.
Throughout the Second Bulgarian Empire between the 12th and the 14th centuries, it served as the political, cultural, and religious hub.
What is the oldest castle in Bulgaria?
Perperikon is thought to be Bulgaria’s oldest castle. This prehistoric archaeological site, which is close to Kardzhali, dates back about 5,000 years.
During the Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine eras, it was a major center of religion and politics.
The location is home to impressive archeological remains, including a palace, temples, and an old acropolis.
What is the most beautiful castle in Bulgaria?
Many people believe the Belogradchik Fortress to be one of Bulgaria’s most stunning castles, yet it can be difficult to single out one as the most beautiful.
Intriguing and spectacular rock formations surround the stronghold, giving the area an alien feel.
Both tourists and locals love the stronghold because of the surrounding area’s stunning natural beauty and its magnificent architecture.
What is the oldest Bulgarian town?
There are a lot of historical castles and sites in Bulgaria. But would is the oldest town in the country?
Being one of the oldest cities in Europe, Plovdiv is also the oldest continuously inhabited city in Bulgaria.
Plovdiv is a city rich in ancient ruins, Roman architecture, and exquisitely maintained medieval buildings with a history spanning more than 8,000 years. Everyone with an interest in the past, present, or beautiful architecture need to visit the city’s Old Town.
You can explore the historic ruins from the Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine periods, including the Early Christian Basilica, the Roman Forum, and the Ancient Stadium.
The city of Plovdiv serves as a significant hub for Bulgarian arts and culture because of the abundance of museums, galleries, and other cultural establishments that are located there. Seems like heaven if you’re into history!
Is Bulgaria cheap to visit?
Particularly in comparison to Western European nations, Bulgaria is known for being a holiday destination that is reasonably priced.
It is a great option if you’re on a tight budget because lodging, dining, transportation, and attractions are often very affordable.
For instance, if you’re on a tight budget, you can find lodging for as little as €15 per night, whereas mid-range hotels usually charge between €30 and €60 per night.
Traditional Bulgarian meals are between €5 and €10 per person when dining out in Bulgaria. Local buses and trams provide one-way tickets for roughly €1, making public transit affordable.
A lot of museums, art galleries, and historical places have affordable entrance prices or even free admittance on certain days.
Overall, Bulgaria is a great place if you want to discover a rich culture, stunning scenery, and historical attractions without spending a fortune.
Can you use the euro in Bulgaria?
Although Bulgaria is a member of the EU, it has not yet made the euro its official currency. Bulgarian Lev is the official currency (BGN).
I advise to convert your money for local currency because many shops do not accept euros or other international currencies.
Banks, exchange bureaus, and airports all offer currency exchange services. Comparing exchange rates and fees is advised because they might differ greatly between providers.
Also, a lot of Bulgarian ATMs issue Bulgarian Levs, making it simple for you to access the local money.
Although credit cards are also widely accepted in popular tourist destinations and major towns, it is always a good idea to have some extra cash on hand for smaller transactions or trips to more remote areas.
When you’re on your castle tour through the country, you might want to take some nice memories home with you. But what to buy?
You can choose from a wide selection of one-of-a-kind products and souvenirs in Bulgaria. Some of the most popular products include:
- Products containing rose oil: A common element in many goods produced in Bulgaria include fragrances and cosmetics.
- Pottery and ceramics: Handcrafted pottery and ceramics are common souvenirs that highlight traditional Bulgarian craftsmanship.
- Wooden crafts: Beautiful and useful souvenirs are made from intricately carved wooden objects like boxes, statues, and utensils.
- Traditional fabrics: Handwoven rugs and tablecloths from Bulgaria have brilliant colors and elaborate patterns.
- Local wines and spirits: With a long history of wine production, Bulgarian wines and spirits, including rakia, make wonderful presents or souvenirs.
The Wrap-Up: Beautiful Bulgarian Castles to Visit
Bulgaria is a land rich in culture, natural beauty, and history. Its castles, forts, and historical landmarks give you a fascinating look into the past and the chance to be in awe of buildings that have withstood the test of time.
The listed Bulgarian castles and fortresses above are a must-see if you’re looking to learn more about Bulgaria’s rich history, from the powerful Tsarevets Fortress to the charming Belogradchik Fortress.
My top three? That would be Asen’s fortress, Belogradchik Fortress and the Tsarevets Fortress.
Are you curious about how to communicate in Bulgaria when you’re exploring the country? Check out my post anout what language do they speak in Bulgaria!
And if your next stop is Sofia, check out my post about the capital city of Bulgaria.
Your restless voyager,