The Rock Legends of King Bair, the Chariot, and the Chariots

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The majestic rocks near Vratsa reveal mysterious legends of heroism and betrayal. Some of them even resemble fairy tales, magically sealed on the stone.

The rocks near the Vratitsa gorge outside the town of Vratsa are called Kral-bair or Kochiite (The Chariot). Several stone figures seem to have made their way up the mountain. You can see a stone chariot harnessed to stone horses, the head of a man with a beard, or a female figure. The best place from which every visitor of the city can see this “scene” is in the middle of the bike alley, which starts from the path for the park “Hut” and reaches the Vratsata pass.

According to one legend, this is the chariot of the fleeing tsar Ivan Sratsimir, according to others – the chariot of Tsar Kostadin and Tsaritsa Helena – the lords of heavenly fire.

In 1877, Felix Kanitz told a legend about this area, which is related to the ruler of the Vidin tsardom Ivan Sratsimir, told in the collection “Kral-Bair”. It tells about the betrayal of the last Bulgarian tsar Ivan Sratsimir Shishman. „You can see this man Ivan high on the right bank of the river, just on the Kral-Bair cliff. There he got petrified when fleeing after he surrendered his lands to the Ottomans. And not only the insidious traitor, but also his daughter, the coachman, the chariot and the four harnessed horses suffered the same fate. Their blood gave the red color to the rocks.

Another theory suggests that the etymology of the toponym king-bair should be sought in connection with the old Bulgarian word karaluk / karalak – “a species of bird of the falcon family, which was used for hunting small game.” (Regional Local History Society, Ognyan Pishtikov).

A third legend connects the rock formations Kochiite with the Ottoman invaders and Tsar Kostadin. When a large army attacked the fortress, its defenders fought bravely, but they were outnumbered. Before the fall of the fortress, Tsar Kostadin left it with his chariot through Voyvodin dol (valley) to Patleina. There he met women who picking watermelons. He blessed them, saying “Sow today, reap tomorrow!” The next day the Turks passed by and asked them when the king had passed, and the women replied, “When we sowed the watermelons.” The Turks gave up and returned, thinking that the king had passed long ago.

The three legends were published in Kalina Todorova‘s 2014 collection Toponymy of the Vratsa Balkan Nature Park, 2014. Many more stories about the sights revealed by Vratsa can be read on the website: https://kartanavremeto-vratsa.org/

Photo: kartanavremeto-vratsa.org