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Following the steps of the Romans

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Other Landmarks


Vidin fortress system „Kalato” is based on the so called Bobanova system designed by the French and Polish engineers on Turkish service. Today, we judge by its condition both from the reserved part and from the two cards at the beginning of the 17th century. One is the work of Austrian Johann Oettinger, the other one is of unknown author. The fortress was a large-scale fortification facility, which together with fortified Calafat and homonymous island was closing the entrance of the Lower Danube to the enemy. Its fortress walls are surrounding in a semicircle the entire then Vidin with diameter 1,800 m along the river.

The section from the Danube River, the fort was composed of two parallel stone walls, and from the landward there was a bastion outline of seven butts. They are interconnected with the coastal wall also through 8 bastions. They dug and outer moat, with about 18 width and 6 meters deep, which was filled with water from the river. According to two Ottoman-Turkish inscriptions (at Market and Top gates) they were built under the guidance of the district architect Mustafa Aga, "who was proficient in geometry." First wall was built from the mainland, and then those from the river, which are double and a spacing of 8 m. The outer wall besides its security function guarded the town from flooding too. Ramparts follow the riverbank and were broken (kremalierni), as on some places are preserved small stone watchtower for the sentinels.

From the Danube, the fortress had five gates (towers) - Aralak, Top, Sarai, Telegraph and Syurgyun (first and last of which are walled). Landward fortification wall consists of earth shaft lined on both sides with stone and with preserved nests of props. Adjacent to it are four gates - Stambol, Market

(Lounge), Janissary (Garbage) and Florentin and moat 18 meters wide and 5-6 meters deep. In the beginning of the 20th century, when the draining the marshes started, part of the pit is buried but remains on the north side of town, near by

the Mujahideen and Florentin gates to the Danube shore. This part is fully preserved and fortified wall that has the bastion typeface of seven 200-meter and 500 m butts, interconnected with the coastal wall by eight bastions. The gates are made of well-cut stones as on some places they are carved floral and geometrical ornaments. Their walls has four rooms (kazemati) used by the guards and for ammunition. Two holes on their subways were shut with solid hinged doors. In front of each gate there was a rolling wooden bridge. Just in front of Stambol gate it was made of stone, because there the pit was larger, square-shaped pool and served as a rack and wintering of the Turkish Danube flotilla.

Today, from "Kalaeto" are preserved only a few fortified gates - Florentin, Janissaries, Market and Stambol gates.

"Stambol Kapiya" gate

The gate was built during the second half of the 17th century, when it was part of the fortified town of Vidin - "Kaleto." That castle was built in the period 1690-1720, after the Austro-Turkish wars. It is used modern for the time vobanova defense system. Stambol Kapiya is the most famous gate of the fortress, perhaps because the road to Constantinople (Stambol) passed through it.

In Stambol Kapiya, the moat was wider and deeper in the shape of a square pool and served as a stopping place and wintering of Turkish Danube flotilla. To protect the bridges and the gates in front of each of them was placed one Ravelin armed with 6-8 guns that fired through loopholes.
Gate is an arched passage, the walls of which there are casemates for sentinel’s premises. Double doors of oak beams were closed usually by iron-bound. Moat was passing along the wooden bridges, one of which was moving. The way to the Danube was released in 5-door: Aralak, Top, Saray, Telegraph and Syurgyun towers. Nowadays before Stambol Kapiya there is a fountain - it is interesting that the figure of a little boy in the fountain has become a subject of theft twice in the last twenty years.

Telegraph Kapiya (gate)

Telegraph Kapiya is one of the entry gates of fortress of Vidin. Just opposite of Gate there is a two-storey stone building that housed the Turkish mail and therefore the gate acquired that name.
Before 10.11.1989 year ago this was one of the two (or three - in the best of times) restaurant in the town. Because part of the Telegraph kapiya has been preserved (and quite well) it was decided to restore it and to converted it into a restaurant like the in French castles along the Loire River.


Vidin, 1718 (1719).

According to the commandment of the great champion of the world, Sultan Ahmed, fences shall be submitted to the great Mustafa Pasha [Head of Vidin garrison]. Along the Danube the enemies formed [of fear] of your name such a wall, which can be called strong Khyber wall, if not, then Alexander wall. Spectators [who see with both eyes] if they want to fill in the date, let consider the following verse: "This castle and this fort are very beautiful."
VANKOV, Simeon. Fortification wall of Vidin in the beginning of 18th century. History supporting essay. C, 1939, pp. 7. DOCUMENTS


God is great. Praise the strongest fortress, Iskender barrier for the Germans and the likes of Magog Giaours. Shah Mehmed - Gaazi, the pride of the Ottoman dynasty, he ordered it to be the mainstay of the country and its regions. Allah proclaims his pure person, the state and grandeur, while the world stands, to endure the glory of the Islamic sword! Keep the good works of Lord Ahmed Pasha, [who] took care to update Stambol gate. And the guard of the building, the architect Mustafa Kulu with his eagerness surpassed his contemporaries. All this Begdzhet told that upon completion of the door said timing diagrams: Mahmedal - Gazi.

ATANASOVA, Yordana. For the inscriptions on castle gates in Vidin. - Red flag - Vidin, March 2, 1961.

1 The inscription is in the library "Saltykov-Shchedrin" in St. Petersburg, took down from the gate and brought as evidence of Russian troops in 1878


Mastering countless of arts Mustafa Agha became a celebrated architect of this area. He was proficient in geometry. Ability and zeal he showed in doing in this deed of his, earned him a name. His plan was the work of a great experience. This duty of his he fulfilled in good days. Most High made the architect happy because his work. How nice is the unity of Muslims. God keep this place from the gun’s shots of the opponents. Let's it save until the second coming of the Muslims.

VANKOV, Simeon. Fortification wall of Vidin in the beginning of 18th century. History supporting essay. C, 1939, pp. 7. DOCUMENTS.

Fortification walls surround in a semicircle with diameter Danube and the whole "old town", but they were built again or have been corrected and adjusted to the new artillery accoutrements, for the older ones - is not known and can not accurately be determined because their captions were removed and taken by the Romanian military authorities in 1878 and the other two are talking about later, do not provide any historical evidence for this.

From the excavations that have been made recently on some internal walls along the Danube may, with some probability, be assumed that have been used the foundations of old walls and over them were built the today’s /inner/ such, as outside them were built new walls. These walls on its outward appearance are not the same everywhere either in its design or in the materials of which they were built of. They have been built under the guidance of the district chief architect Mustafa Aga, as is apparent from the two inscriptions preserved. One of them says that he "was a skilled in geometry" and that "his plan was the result of great experience," and in the other - that was promoted for these buildings in Pasha Rank and appointed a governor of the fortresses themselves. According to these inscriptions which we translate below, the construction was carried out for a long time, between 1122 to 1136 of the Hegira / 1704 to 1718 /, as the first walls were built from the side of the land and then - along the Danube.
The walls along the Danube are double - exterior and interior with empty space between them. The walls along the Danube are double – internal and external with a free space between them. The external one is 4-5 meters high and had dual purpose - keeping the city from flooding and a strategic one. Therefore, it has a different thickness – from the bases of the height of 3,5 m - three meters and 10 cm /thick / and upward - 1.65 m, as inside a path is left, of 1.45 m width in order to be able for the troops to walk along and on some distance above it there were built observation towers and battlements, of which today there is only one turret remained, and the inner wall that runs parallel to the first and it stands on 8.15 meters with the same thickness and height. Both walls have a full outline and several arched, reinforced doors - 5 on the outward and 4 on the inner – for going out to the Danube, as in kremalieri to the inner wall are built arched niches with stone for place to stand for soldiers, and above them, on some are lifted military watchtowers. Between the walls cars and pack animals could freely move. The doors were plated with boards, clothed with thick iron plates. They were called "Aralak kapiya (gate)" / behind Baba Vida / "Top kapiya / next to Baba Vida / provided with the following inscription on the inner left wall in translation: "Giving command the Great ruler of the universe Sultan Ahmed, the buildings are transferred to the Great Mustafa Pasha. Along the Danube the enemies formed / of fear / of your name such a wall, which can be called strong Khyber wall, if not, then Alexander wall".

Spectators / who view with both eyes / if you want to complement the date / let's consider the following verse / "This fortress and this fort are very beautiful" 1136 of Hegira /1718/. The text of this inscription has some words that are hard to read on the high plate due to a malfunction of the time on the limestone rock, especially the last verse. But common sense is that this place before the Great Mustafa Pasha at the command of Sultan Mehmed and over time this had risen grazing the wall for protection from enemies and it is because of their strength, to be called Hayber fortress or Alexander wall. And this building was completed in 1336 by the Hegira / 1718 /, whichever date is expressed in an original way by acrostic in the last verse."Saray kapiya" - to the current prison "Telegraph kapiya" – just the opposite of the telegraph station and

“Suyrgyn kapiya” – just the opposite of now newly built bathroom where serious criminals were sent on exile or in the waves of the Danube. Both walls are made ​​of stone, mortar abundant, so that a solid mass has formed. Lining of the outward wall kremaliers on the doors and towers above them were built with hewn stones. Outward wall was called "Rescue wall" or "Alexandrovska".

Landward fortification wall consists of an earthly shaft and a wide moat in front of it. Earth shaft has the shape of a huge part of the polygon that surrounds a circular city and both sides rely on the Danube and its northern corner turns to one of his knees along the coast and reaches outward double stone walls where a transverse wall with turret above it separates these two disparate parts of the fortress wall and in the corner a bastion was built, and the opposite side /behind the pit/ merges with a second bastion on which now stands the military post. This bastion was on the northwest end where now rises above the military club.In the corners of the shaft, which are extended in the adjoining moat were built eight large hexagonal bastions with niches in front of them for putting projectiles. The shaft has a thickness of 17-18 m and the bulk soil, which is formed of is sewn firmly on both sides with thick stone walls, of which the outward one with beautiful carved stones, and in the inner is found walled Roman tombstone inscriptions indicating that their materials were taken from nearby Roman ruins or from the local Roman cemeteries. Both walls are cut with four tunnels doors that are plated with iron plates, and over them were placed towers. They were called "Stambol kapiyar", which was the official and primary gate of the fortress, "Lounge" or "Market" kapiya. It goes to the market out of the fortress and to it from its left side, has remained an inscription of the time of the construction of the wall - 1122 of Hegira /1704/, "Bokluk (Garbage) kapiya" that extends to the present state hospital and "Karla baba" or "Florentin kapiyar", which is so called from one grandmother Karla baba. He was a representative of a dervish sect and the Turks after his death buried him on the right side next to the door, as a saint, to keep this entrance of the castle from enemies and built over his grave a small stone wall /a room/ in which local Turks, were setting fire to candles on some special days as a saint, and "Florentine kapiya" - because it goes to the village of Florentin. On both sides of the tunnel doors there were wide masonry niches, and next to them in the internal walls - large vaulted galleries /tunnels/ that took them deep into the foundations of the shaft and some of them are reported and pit evidently to draw on water or onto the pit. These galleries were on both sides at the entrance of each bastion, places for storage of military shells and most of them have been preserved until today to serve for the storage of oil. Over the doors were placed inscriptions carved on stone, to perpetuate the construction of walls and doors, but in 1878 the Romanian occupation forces treated them as spoils of war in Bucharest today are wide open only holes in their places, but in the last war, as learn from some local Turks they were relieved by the Turks in Constantinople. The moat- wide about 17.58 m and 5.60 m deep was stretched all around the shaft, with the two ends are connected to the Danube and crossed in front of each door with a wooden bridge over it, except to "Stambol kapiya", which was a stone one with a hole. The shaft was lined with solid stone walls, well coupled with abundant mortar from the field, leaving the ground about one meter, and so deep, so that it can run from 1 to 1.5 feet deep that the water has flowed from the northern edge of the Danube. For this purpose, its bottom was covered with plates not to be able to wash water or easy to be clean, it was made less inclined to run the water. That’s why, in "Stambol kapiya" the ditch was deeper and wider in the form of a square pool and served as a wintering and rack and Turkish Danube fleet that consisted of small shallow barges. These walls and shafts cause to the spectators wondering by its grandeur, durability and expensive equipment and could nowadays be used to decorate the city, on the shaft they make a nice park, and the pit - waterway. They would remind to the generations and to the many tourists that Vidin has been and should be cool stronghold and support pa Bulgarian homeland. They are priceless and spectacular monuments of its historical past centuries. But unfortunately, nowadays these forts are only pitiful remnants and ruins. Indeed, Berlin Treaty undertook their demolition, because the enemies of Bulgarians and Slavs have seen in them insurmountable obstacles for invading them in the Balkan mountains and even in 1878 was demolished with dynamite a part of them – the bastion of their northern end and "Florentine kapiya" but to the others that liberated Bulgaria and Vidin are inherited from the Turks are complete, due to the extremely unwise approaches and solutions to various archaeological committees and ministerial delegates, has allowed their destruction in order to use their material.

And then started the indiscriminately breaking the stones of their lining, the battle towers and domes of the external and interior walls, tunnels, niches, etc., and thus were brought up to this disfigured appearance. The moat was spattered in several places and without having in mind that thus are formed stagnant and stinking waters. Wastefulness has gone so far that there were destroyed the stones and the interior walls along the Danube and thus made the town prone to high-risk from flooding. Generally, the destruction does affect anything valuable, beautiful, and has left a legacy of Vidin - ugly and disfigured ruins.
Mustafa Pasha has built as an addition to the walls and a vast and magnificent mosque which still exists today under his name, and Vidin municipal government - in gratitudenamed the street or the neighborhood /the quarter/ , where the mosque is located.

From "History of Vidinand itsregion"