The "Vratitsa" fortress, located 1.5 km west of Vratsa in the gorge of the Leva River, is a historical site with a rich and fascinating past. Its origins are believed to be linked to valuable copper deposits nearby, and the earliest finds discovered by archaeologists date back to the 6th century BC. during the Thracian period.
From Thracians to Ottomans: Tracing the History of the Vratsa Fortress "Vratitsa"
The region has been inhabited by various tribes over the centuries, including the proud and warlike tribes that won notable victories over the Odris and even fought against Alexander the Great. However, they were defeated by the Celts and later by the Germanic Bastarni tribe. In 29 BC, some of the local Thracian rulers became allies of the Romans, weakening the tribes' resistance and allowing the Romans to defeat them.
During the Roman period, a mining settlement and a mint for bronze coins were established here, and the Romans built a strong fortress to guard the copper mines from invaders. The prosperity of the region continued under Byzantine rule, when an early Christian church was built and a lead seal of Emperor Justinian was discovered during excavations.
During the First and Second Bulgarian States, the fortress played a decisive strategic role in the area, and in the 13th century the settlement on the hill was built and named Vratsa. From this period, there are mysterious burials near the excavations of a 13th-century medieval church, which include a skeleton with a severed head and a stone placed in the heart area, as well as another decapitated face down. According to experts, these practices were used in the Bulgarian Middle Ages to protect potential vampires.
Legends and Mysteries of the Vratitsa Fortress: A Journey Through Bulgaria's Past
There are also legends about the fortress, including the heroic defense of the fortress by Radan voivode and his army during the Ottoman invasion. The legend tells about the tragic end of the voivode and his daughter Elitza, who threw themselves from a cliff near the fortress to save their honor from being insulted. Today, the place where the two met their deaths is known as the "Red Rock".
Unfortunately, during the Ottoman conquest of the area, the fortress and its churches were destroyed. But the remains of this iconic place can still be seen by walking along the "Heritage Trail" built by PP Vrachanski Balkan.