"Baba Vida" Fortress is the main attraction of the town of Vidin. It is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria. It is situated on the great bend of the Danube in the city.
"Baba Vida" Fortress is located at the end of the Danube Park in the east, near the banks of the Danube. The castle is known as "Baba Vida towers" or "Baba Vida".
"Baba Vida" Fortress is a cultural monument of national importance and is one of the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria. In addition to tourist visits, it is a natural setting for the film (in the castle and the surrounding area were taken over 50 Bulgarian and foreign films, mostly historical subjects) and theater performances and other cultural events.
istory of the castle is very long and is full of interesting events.
According to the legend Vida was the eldest daughter of a Bulgarian boyar with extensive possessions. Thought by the failed marriages of her sisters – Kula (Tower) and Gamza she refused all marriage proposals, she built inaccessible castle and lived there all her life. In fact, the legend of the past the castle is closely linked to the restless centuries of feudal Bulgaria.
"Baba Vida" was built on the ruins of the ancient fortress of Bononia, which may have occurred on the foundations of found Thracian settlement at the beginning of I century. According to other historians the settlement was Celtic and was called Dunonia, where later Roman name was derived. From Bononia the best preserved is the northeast corner tower, which was built later in the foundations of "Baba Vida". This earliest Roman castle level is at elevation 33.20 m. It occurs during the Roman Empire as the seat of a small garrison with a watchtower around which gradually the fortress is born. Later, local governors used it for a feudal castle.
Bulgarian medieval castle was built on the foundations of the ancient Roman fortress of Bononia. It is possible that the castle is entirely lying up on the quadriburgium of Bononia. The castle had been built from 3rd to 11th century. As the first medieval construction period is considered to be the tenth century. From this period dates the core - the main towers and bastions and the connecting inner wall. The Byzantine chronicles say that the Vidin fortress withstand the siege lasted about 8 months. From the buildings from this period today has remained relatively few. The best preserved is the wall and the towers, which are located on the Danube River.During the First Bulgarian Kingdom some additional works had been carried out. The basic construction of stone and brick with mortar solder is connected to the era of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12-14th century). The fortress served as a protection of Vidin in almost all the middle Ages, greatly expanded and strengthened during the reign of Ivan Sratsimir. Much of the buildings at that time remained intact. From this period is the core of the fortress - the main towers and bastions and connecting inner wall. In its walls there were 10 towers, but most of them were rebuilt.
In 1003 the city was besieged by Basil the Porphyrogenitus and after eight months siege was captured. It was released in 1195 and began the so-called period of the Second Bulgarian Empire, during which time the city experienced its rapid development as a center of economic and political progress. Around 1280 it was ruled by despot Shishman whose descendants occupied Tarnovo throne and become the kings of the Bulgarian state. After the death of despot Shishman power passed to his son Michael Shishman. In a Venetian document of 1313 it was mentioned his official title of despot Bulgaria, ruler of Bdin. In 1323 the Boyar Board elects despot Michael Shishman as a king of Bulgaria. Michael Shishman died on July 28, 1330 at the Battle of Velbazhd.Ivan Alexander came to the throne, who is the nephew of Michael Shishman. At the beginning of his reign Bdin Tsardom was joined to the Tarnovo country. Ivan Alexander had two sons - Ivan Sratsimir from his first marriage with Theodora, daughter of John Basarab Wallachian leader and Ivan Shishman from his second marriage to the Jewess Sarah, who was baptized and took the name Theodora. His older son Ivan Sratsimir became co-manager in northwestern Bulgaria with center Bdin. But in 1360 in Turnovo the younger son of Ivan Alexander – Ivan Shishman was proclaimed a Bulgarian king. After the death of his father in 1371 Ivan Sratsimir broke relations with Tarnovo kingdom and declared himself an independent ruler until the fall of Bdin under the Turks in 1396.
In his appearance today’s fortress consists of two main walls and four towers. It has the shape of an irregular trapezium, on the four corners of which are situated the stone towers. Around the fortress deep moat was dug, which was filled with water from the rivers Danube and Topolovets. Along with the fortress moat, the area reaches 9.5 acres. The residential part of the castle occupied the inner zone overlooking the central courtyard foundations of a church of chapel type had been revealed dated 13-14th century. In the fall of Vidin by the Turks in 1396, the fortress was seriously injured. The invaders renewed it, then several time reconstructed it. In 1689 the castle was adapted to artillery fire. During the Ottoman rule it was used for military warehouse and a prison, and after the Liberation there had been exposed trophy weapons.
The architecture of the fortress "Baba Vida" has endured many changes over the centuries. Originally the castle consisted of two parts: residential - commercial and defense one. The defense one included a moat and two enclosure walls with 10 towers lied on it - 4 corner and 5 side, connected with internal fence wall the thickness of which is about 2.2 meters and on the outer wall is built one entrance tower, which served a s a guard to the draw-bridge. Two almost independent external yards are formed between them. The height of the inner towers was 16 meters. The moat around the castle has a depth of 4 meters and its width is about 6 m. The bridge was wooden rolling and guarding the entrance to the tower.
The construction of the fort is typical of the Second Bulgarian Empire - stones and bricks; mortared while laying them not any particular order has been complied with. Since the end of the 17th century the architectural renovations began on the castle in order for it to be adapted for fighting with firearms. Since that time dated the embrasures for guns and small-caliber guns in the outer defense wall and several buttresses (retaining walls). From the late 18th and early 19th century dated the brick works on the inner wall and the roof on the towers. Bulgarian towers and fortress walls are finished with battlements. The towers were divided into floors - lower were used for storage and the above - as watchtowers and for keeping fighting if necessary.
However, the primary plan of the castle has not undergone major changes. The fortress has a shape close to a square oriented with its corners to the global directions. The side of the square there is about 70 m. There are two walls - the inside is high, with a thickness of 2.2 meters, including 9 towers - 4 corner and 5 side. The outer wall is lower; it is connected with two towers. In the walls have been deployed bricks and stones (crushed stone) with mortar. To some extent, the construction is decorative one - there are preserved nowadays brick layers, blind arched niches, other geometric shapes. Almost unfinished external yard is formed between the two walls. Fenced area of the inner wall is built with adjacent vaulted rooms that surround a small courtyard. It was a residential part of the castle. The rooms are located on two floors. Access to the upper terrace is provided with a spiral staircase and a ramp to retrieve guns, as well as some wooden stairs in the towers. The castle is accessible only from the north, where the entrance tower is located. In the past, the access to it over the moat was made by a wooden drawbridge (now stone bridge) filled with water from the Danube river. The gate leads to the first courtyard. A spiral staircase leads to the patio. In the Middle Ages this courtyard was larger, a single nave church was built and a stone building and binary frame building also. These constructions were demolished with the building of warehouses and sentries at the end of 17th - beginning of 18th century.
Shooting terrace was built during the end of 18th - early 19th century. Represents earth layer of about 5 m thickness, gathered on the stone roofs of the premises. From that era dated the brick works on inner wall with trenches for long-range guns and the roofs of the towers. In the 60 years of the twentieth century, the towers have been restored as it is stored line between the original and the restored parts. A panoramic view over the city of Vidin and the Danube is open from this point. You can see the building of the Jewish synagogue.
The tunnel of the fort was used to retrieve long-range artillery on top of the fortress. In the past, this tunnel was not covered with cobble-stones; nowadays the tunnel is an integral part of the decor of any historical film that captures the fortress "Baba Vida". Sratsimir tower was built in the 13th - 14th century and is the best preserved part of the castle from the time of the Bulgarian medieval period. Its height is 16 meters, pretty brick ornaments are preserved on its walls - rosettes and bowls. Near this tower is the secret escape passage.
In the 18th century the castle has been adapted for the use of firearms. From this period dated the embrasures for guns and small-caliber guns in the outer defense wall, several buttresses were built also (reinforcing retaining walls). By the end of this century and the beginning of the 19th century dated the brick works on the inner wall and the roofs of the towers. Bulgarian towers ended with pinnacles - like fortified walls.
And after the capturing of Vidin fortress "Baba Vida" by the Turks continues to play an important role. During this period, a number of works were also made. In the late eighteenth century castle is no longer used as much for defensive purposes, but serves mainly as armory and prison. For the needs of the Turkish army on the place of the destroyed residential - commercial part had been built overarched stone rooms used as storage for ammunition and food, sentinel rooms and prison guard. Since 15th century the castle functions are defensive only. Another line spaces around the courtyard were built. Medieval towers were blocked with stones; cliffs are formed with new loopholes in the highest elevation 46.67 m.
In the period after the liberation the castle was given to the military authorities, and access to it was limited. From 1956 to 1962 the first archaeological studies were held, on which it was established the cultural layers of Roman, Byzantine, Early Bulgarian, Late Bulgarian and Ottoman era. Since 1958 the castle is open to visitors, as inside was developed a Museum also, and in 1964 was declared a cultural monument of national importance.
The natural scenery of the castle is used by many filmmakers to shoot movie scenes. Nowadays, there a theatrical stage and musical exposure are arranged.
The open-air theater of Vidin is situated in the fortress "Baba Vida" also. It hosts traditional summer theater days, where artists from all over Bulgaria are taking part. The number of seats is 350. In this section the wall of the castle from the river is a double and the land between it and the river is used for urban beach.
The Danube Bridge between Vidin and Calafat can be seen from there also.
Visiting the castle is an unforgettable experience for every Bulgarian and foreign visitor of the old town of Vidin.