Vratza district – Cities

The town of Vratza is the centre of the district and has a population of 65 000 inhabitants. It lies at a distance of 112 km from Sofia. The town is situated at an altitude of 370 m in the Western part of Stara Planina at its northern foot. Vratza is the municipal centre of 21 settlements.

Active life has existed on the territory of the district since ancient times. There are findings from the time of the old Paleolith at the caves of Pech (the village of Staro selo), Samuilitza (the village of Kunino); Neolith settlements by the villages of Gradeshnitza, Dobrusha, Banitza; settlements from the Halcolith at the villages of Galatin, Lesura and Malorad. In V-IV c. B.C. the region around Vratza was populated by the Thracian tribes of Tribals. In 339 the Thracian tribe of Tribals waged a war with the troops of Philip the Macedonian in the Iskar Defile and are victorious. Philip the Macedonian himself was seriously wounded in this battle. In 335 they waged against his son Alexander the Macedonian and signed an alliance agreement. From this period are discovered two significant treasures - the Mogilan and the Rogozen treasures.

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The end of the Thracian hegemony in the district was put by the Roman proconsul Mark Licinius Kras in 28 A.D. For almost 400 years Vratza and the district were part of the Roman Empire. The district later entered the limits of the Thrace Province and it was in this period when the settlement was turned into a town of a typical Roman outlook. The population of the town was mainly Thracians, war veterans, Helens and Maloasians brought by the Romans. In V-VI c. the town of Vratza was a territory of a new empire - the Byzantine. The Byzantine Prokopius Kesariyski was the first to mention the Valve fortress. In Latin "valve" means gate and this is the old name of the town. The town had a natural defense of steep rocks and where there were no rocks it had fortified walls. In VII c. the population consisted mainly of Slavs and had the name of Vratitza. In 681 the Bulgarian State was founded and the town of Vratza became its western border. In XIV c. the town was part of the Ottoman Empire. The town was liberated in 1878 after the end of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War.

Vratza is the birth place of the sculptor Andrey Nikolov (1878-1959). He was a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.

The tourist sights of the town are: the history museum, the art gallery, the ethnographic-Revival complex, the two medieval tower-fortresses - the Kurtpashova and the Meshchiite, the Vrattzata Gorge and others.

On the territory of Vratza District are located the following cultural-historic landmarks: remains of the ancient fortress Augusta, the Bulgarian fortress by the village of Oryahovo from the period of the Second Bulgarian State, the Cherepishki, Strupetzki, Bistreshki and Gradeshki monasteries.

The natural landmarks of the region are: the "Vratza Balkan" natural park, the Vratza eco-path and the rocky phenomena "Ritlite".

The most popular wineries of the region are Krivodol, Vratza, Roman and Oryahovo.

Tourist sights

The Strupets Monastery "The Holy Prophet Iliya"

The Strupets Monastery "The Holy Prophet Iliya"

The History Museum in Vratza houses objects from the Neolith culture, gold Thracian treasures and examples of the Vratza goldsmith's school from the Revival period.

The Mogilan's mound in Vratza is one of the most unique findings. It is situated in Vratza and was discovered in 1965. The burial in the tomb was performed around 380-359 B.C. The tomb is 11 m long and 4 m wide and has a rectangular shape. In the tomb were discovered two silver jugs, four phials, an iron sward and other gifts.

The ancient fortress Augusta lies at a distance of 3 km from the village of Harletz, the town of Miziya, Vratza District. The name of the town is mentioned in two Roman guidebooks. In the ancient Christian annals the name of the town has several suffixes - Augustes, Augustas, Augustis. Augusta is situated on a low plateau of the old basin of the Ogosta River. To the south the town was surrounded by the high banks of the Ogosta River and to the east and north by an impassable swamp. The town was accessible only from the west. In order to protect this side there was built a wall with a deep pit in front of it which can be seen till present days. The walls were precisely built following the symmetry and the beauty of the fortress.

The rocky complex in the village of Tzarevetz consists of 40 natural and artificially formed niches and caves in the steep rocky wreaths along the bank of the Iskar River. About 30 inscriptions from different periods and hundreds of paintings of animals, people, hunting scenes and cult signs have been discovered in them. The paleographic and language characteristics of the inscriptions date them to the period of XVI -XVIII c. and the paintings to the VII-XI c. The archaic style of some of the paintings dates them to an earlier epoch. The complex was populated for more than a century and was an important cult centre.

Cherepishki Monastery

Cherepishki Monastery

The Cherepishki Monastery lies at a distance of 13 km southwest of the town near the village of Lyutibrod. The monastery is situated in the valley of the Iskar River. It was one of the important spiritual centres during the Ottoman yoke. The monastery was founded in XIV c. and was restored in XVII c. The single-nave monastery church has precious icons and a beautiful iconostasis.

The Strupetzki Monastery by the town of Mezdra was built in XVI-XVII c. The murals of the monastery are precious examples of the Bulgarian landscape painting. The housing buildings in the monastery were finished in 1857 and are by far among the most representative ones of the Revival period architecture.

The Bistreshki Monastery "St. Yoan Bogoslov" lies at a distance of 6 km west of Vratza hidden in the mountainous slopes. In the rocks above the monastery there is a big aperture with a natural vault of 30 m height. In the southern part of this vault there are mural paintings. The preserved inscription below them tells about the renovation of the monastery in 1540 by Dimiter Dubov. From the old monastery complex the most well-preserved is the church from the XVI c.


The town of Mezdra has a population of 12 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 14 km southeast of Vratza. Mezdra is the municipal centre of 27 settlements and a key junction station of the railway lines Sofia-Varna and Mezdra-Vidin. The town is situated amphitheatrically along the left bank of the Iskar River. On the territory of the municipality there are remains of a fortified prehistoric settlement and an ancient medieval fortress. The settlement was described in the Ottoman registry books in XV c. The municipality is specialized in the production of grains, fruits, vines and vegetables.

The tourist sights of the region are: the Cherepishki Monastery, The Strupetzki Monastery, the remains of the Kaleto fortress and the art gallery.


The Radetski Steamship National Museum, town of Kozloduy

The Radetski Steamship National Museum, town of Kozloduy

The town of Kozloduy has a population of 15 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 78 km north of Vratza. Kozloduy is the municipal centre of 4 settlements. The town is situated by the Danube River opposite the island of Kozloduy. In the region of Kozloduy there are findings of a settlement from the Bronze Age and remains of a Roman fortress. The first written evidence of the existence of the town is from the Ottoman documents from XV c. The municipality is specialized in the electricity generation. In Kozloduy is the only Nuclear Plant in Bulgaria.


The town of Byala Slatina

The town of Byala Slatina

The town of Byala Slatina has a population of 13 500 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 47 km northwest of Vratza. Byala Slatina is the municipal centre of 15 settlements. The town is situated in the Danube Plain on the terraces of the Skat River at an altitude of 126 m. It is located in the middle between Stara Planina and the Danube River.

The archaeological research proved that life has existed on these lands ever since ancient times. In the region were discovered pottery vessels from the late Neolith, objects from the Halcolith and a cultural layer from the Bronze Age. With the development of the First Bulgarian State on the sites of the present settlements originated a new one which quickly developed and was known under the name of Slatina and later Byala Slatina. The town was known under the same name during the Ottoman Empire. After the Russian-Turkish War the settlement flourished and in 1914 was proclaimed for a town.


The Municipality, the town of Krivodol

The Municipality, the town of Krivodol

The town of Krivodol has a population of 4 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 20 km north of Vratza. Krivodol is the centre of a municipality with 14 component settlements. Near the town there is a settlement mound from the Halcolith, remains of an ancient settlement and a Roman villa. The first evidence of the town was found in the Ottoman documents from 1430. The region of the municipality is specialized in the production of grains, technical cultures, tobacco, vegetables, vines and fruits.


The town of Oryahovo

The town of Oryahovo has a population of 6 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 75 km northeast of Vratza. The town is situated on a hilly site along the bank of the Danube River. Throughout the centuries the town had many names - Orezov, Rahovo, Oryahovo and others.

The region around the town has been populated since ancient times. The archaeological excavations show the existence of settlements from different epochs - from the early Neolith to the late Middle Ages. In the region of Oryahovo there are remains of a Roman town and the Roman fortress Variana. The name of the town is mentioned in a document from 1226 in relation to the passing of Madzhar troops through the Bulgarian lands. In 1388 Oryahovo was conquered by the Ottoman troops. In XVIII-XIX c. the main means of living of the population was related to the navigation along the Danube. The town was liberated on 20th November 1877.

Oryahovo is the birth place of the great musician, conductor and composer Diko Iliev.

The tourist sights of the town are: the church "St. Georgi" from 1837 - a monument of culture of national significance, the statue dedicated to the Russian liberators, made by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Dzoki, the house-museum of Diko Iliev, remains of a Bulgarian fortress and the history museum.

The medieval fortress lies at a distance of 1 km from the town. It was built in IX c. and existed until XIV c. Today from the fortress is preserved a rectangular two-storey tower. Two crusades passed through the medieval town lead by King Sigizmund in 1396 and Vladislav Yagelo in 1444.

The house of Diko Iliev represents the life and the work of the great Bulgarian musician. Diko Iliev Dikov (1898-1985) is a musician, a conductor and a composer. He is the author of the most popular Bulgarian horos and brass band marches.


View to the town of Roman and Iskar River

View to the town of Roman and Iskar River

The town of Roman has a population of more than 3 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 39 km southeast of Vratza. Roman is the centre of a municipality with 12 component settlements. On the territory of the town there are remains of a prehistoric settlement and a medieval fortress. The first evidence of the town is in the Ottoman documents from 1430 where it was mentioned under the same name. The municipality is specialized in agriculture.


The town of Mizia

The town of Mizia has a population of 3 800 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 64 km northeast of Vratza. Mizia is the municipal centre of 5 settlements. The town is situated by the Skat River. The tourist sight of the municipality are the remains of the ancient town of Augusta (6 km to west, by the village of Harletz).


The village of Hayredin

The village of Hayredin has a population of 2 100 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 60 km north of Vratza. Hayredin is the centre of a municipality with 5 component settlements. The village is situated in the Danube Plain along the Ogosta River. The region is specialized in the production of grains, sunflower, sugar beet, vegetables and vine-growing. On the territory of the village there are traces from the Halcolith, the Iron Age, the Ancient Times and the Middle Ages. There is evidence for the village in the Ottoman documents from 1617 and 1673.


The village of Borovan

The village of Borovan has a population of 2 700 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 28 km north of Vratza. Borovan is the centre of a municipality with 4 component settlements. The municipality is specialized in the production of grains, technical cultures and stock breeding. On the territory of the village were discovered archaeological findings dating from the Halcolith, the Bronze Age and the Ancient Times. Borovan was registered in the Ottoman documents from XV c.

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