This is one of the most stunning rock formations of the Iskar Gorge. Rittlite (the Cart Ladder) is made of sheer cliffs, running straight down the steep southeast slope of the Vratsa Mountain, near Lyutibrod.
Seen from a distance, the cliffs protrude just like cart ladders (the cart body side walls), hence the name. Rittlite are made of sturdy limestone, formed 120 million years ago, when a prehistoric sea used to flounce in these places. The rocks are anywhere between 200 and 400 metres long, but only measure 2.6 to 7 metres across. They rise steeply above the Iskar to a height of 80 metres in some points.
The mountain surrounding this natural phenomenon is replete with millennial history. The exploration of Lyutibrod regional history was kicked off as far back as in 1871 by the Hungarian adventurer and Bulgarian history culture and nature buff, Felix Kanitz. This is what he wrote about the village: "Nature here is the most romantic one!".
According an old legend, there used to be an iron gate here that closed the way to the ancient Bulgarian fortress of Serdika. What we certainly know is actually pretty close to the legend: Rittlite helped the Romans block the Iskar Gorge exit, while to their east, on Iskar's left bank, stand the ruins of the old Bulgarian town of Corinthgrad, or as the locals have dubbed it – Koritengrad. The turrets cresting Rittlite still bear the remains of old fortress walls. The fort was rising up between the two highest cliffs, while the town went all the way down to the Iskar itself, fortified at that level with robust stone walls and battlements. Koritengrad was destroyed in the 17th century, with part of its inhabitants founding present-day Lyutibrod.
Nine medieval Bulgarian churches were discovered in the area of ancient Koritengrad, the most preserved one being St. George dating back to 10th-12th century. The rich archaeological compound, including Koritengrad and the medieval fortress Rittlite were listed as national cultural monument in 1979.
Next to Rittlite there is a historical site named Rashov Dol. This is the place where Botev's Company fought its last battle after its commander's death. Ten of its men perished here , which is why celebrations are held on the spot every year on June 3rd.
According to locals, the nearby Iskar ford was where Baba Yliytsa from the emblematic story, One Bulgarian Woman, by Ivan Vazov crossed the river. The place is marked with a plaque.
Rittlite is easy to find: to the left of the bridge over the Iskar, connecting the village with Vratsa, on the road running via Chelopek.
Just opposite the natural landmark is the Rittlite Tourist Centre within Vratsa Mountain Nature Park system. The centre features a three-dimensional model of Iskar Gorge, a digital layout with hiking trails in the Vratsa Mountain Nature Park and 3D displays. The Centre is open to visitors every Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, upon request. There is also a small playground and picnic area near the centre. Baba Yliytsa's ford is right behind the centre.
A trail starts here and leads to Rashov Dol. The Cherepish Monastery of the Assumption is nearby.