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The Blood Rock Near Vratsata Pass

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The Vratsata pass is just a stone-throw away from the city of Vratsa. It is a narrow passage amidst the tall cliffs. At noon, the right side of the rock becomes black. Locals say that this is Velika’s blood. Both the Voyvodin Vale and Zgorigrad are very close by.

It is also known as Velika’s blood or the Bloody Rock. It is located on the very pass over the Leva river. The name comes from the color of the rock.

There are several legends, but the most common one is related to the Turkish invasion and Radan Voivoda – defender of the city. When his men fell under the Turkish scimitar, he killed his only daughter on the steepest rock to avoid falling alive into the hands of the infidels. He then took his own life. Even today, the blood of the innocent girl can be seen on the red rock in the distance (Kral-Bair 2000). The monument of Radan Voyvoda is located opposite the Heritage Trail “Ancient and Medieval Vratitsa”.

Radan Voivoda Monument Near Vratsa

Another legend is described in the book “Toponymy of the Vratsa Balkan Nature Park”. It takes us even further back in time – to the time of the Byzantine Emperor Basil The Bulgarslayer when the Bulgarian tsardom fell under Byzantine rule. The fortress of Veliko Tarnovo, as well as some towns in the plain, were not yet conquered. Among them was the city of Vratsa. At that time the voivode (ruler) of Vratsa was Raden. He saw the mutual misfortune and understood the difficulties that stood before him. He withdrew behind the passage of the gorges at Vratsa in order to protect the city. There he heroically defended himself and repulsed all attacks.

Photo: kartanavremeto-vratsa.org

After many bloody battles, the Byzantine saw that they won’t be able to take the fortress by force. The voivode and his men were too skilled, brave, and cunning. And the fortress was in a very convenient location. In addition, the Bulgarians scattered throughout the Balkans and forests returned daily under the voivodship flag of Raden and increased his strength. The Byzantines were afraid that Raden’s warriors would one day attack their camp, so they decided to use treachery. And so, they returned to the plain and waited for several days.

The son of the Greek general sitting in the plain was thirsty for glory. He was very skilled in the Bulgarian language. So, he intended to disguise himself as a Bulgarian peasant from this region and to sneak into the Zgorigrad fortress, so he would kill the brave Raden give and good chance. He managed to sneak into the fortress. He introduced himself as the son of another Bulgarian voivode, whose city had already been taken by the Greeks. Then he explained that he had studied in Constantinople and when he found out that his homeland was in peril, he hurried to help his father, but it was too late. But he managed to reach the only heroic voivode who still battled the Greeks. And so he came to his aid.

Raden knew well the duke, whose son the Greek introduced himself as, and therefore received him with joy and great respect. The spy sensed that he would be able to easily poison the duke and disperse his soldiers. He felt the easy victory but waited for the best time.

Raden Voivoda had a beautiful daughter. Her name was Velika. She liked the Greek and fell in love with him. Raden did not suspect anything wrong with his daughter’s behavior, respected the very famous family of the Greek, and was infinitely pleased with his guest. But at some point, his loyal scouts caught a letter and found out who the man who came was and why he had come to their fortress. They gave the letter to Raden Voivoda, and he was immensely upset by the insidious fraud. His restless blood raged. And Velika loved the young, handsome Greek, and without knowing exactly who he was, she was ready to go with him, leave her father and family, home, and father’s name.

The voivode tracked down the imposter and soon found him along with Velika over the Vratsata pass, from where he showed her the location of the Greek camp in the field and the Greek guard, ready to receive them. The soldiers who were walking with the duke quickly attacked him. Raden grabbed his daughter by the hair and said:

“Die, you damn daughter of mine! Those that hold no respect for their family and homeland are not worthy to look at the sun”. So he cut off her head with a single swing.

The scared Greek stood in front of him all tied-up. The voivode freed him with a single swing of his sword and said

“Go and tell your father to prepare himself. Tomorrow I’ll pay him a visit with my brave family for a bloody wedding.

And indeed, he led his forces into a bloody battle in the field. He killed the culprit for the death of his beloved daughter and met a heroic death himself.