The Belogradchik Fortress, Bulgaria

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Located on the north slopes of the Balkan Mountains, close to the northwestern Bulgarian town of Belogradchik, is the Belogradchik Fortress, also known as Kaleto Fortress. The fort is nestled on the base of a spectacular rock formation belonging to the Belogradchik massif which consist of strangely shaped sandstone and conglomerate rock formation that are thought to resemble shapes of people or objects. Some of the rocks reach up to 200 meters in height. The ones serving as the backdrop to the fort are 70 meters tall.

A fort existed here since the Roman times. In the 1st to the 3rd century AD, the Romans built roads across the new provinces of the empire on the Balkan peninsula, as well as some fortresses to guard them. The mission of Belogradchik Fortress was to control the road. They built the highest part of the fortress, known as the Citadel, using the rocks as natural protection. Fortified walls were built only on the northwest and southeast sides, with the rest of the sides around the yard being surrounded by rocks.

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Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr

Over the centuries, Belogradchik Fortress has been used by a succession of different forces including the Byzantines. In the 14th century, the Bulgarian tsar of Vidin Ivan Stratsimir extended the old fortress, building fortified garrisons before the existing rock massifs. The fort became one of the most important strongholds in the region. At the end of this century, Belogradchik Fortress was captured by the Ottomans, who expanded it further and used it to suppress local uprisings.

Belogradchik Fortress continued to be used for military and defensive purposes until the 19th century. In 1850, Belogradchik Fortress played an important role in the Ottoman suppression of the Belogradchik uprising, being the place where decapitation of captured activists were performed. The fort was last used in warfare during the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885.

The Belogradchik Fortress is now one of the best-preserved strongholds in Bulgaria, and together with the Belogradchik Rocks, it is the town's primary cultural and historical tourist attraction.

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Photo credit: Tihomir E. Mladenov/Panoramio

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Photo credit: elena Stefanova/Panoramio

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Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr

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Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr

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Photo credit: Alex Lovell-Troy/Flickr

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Photo credit: Elena Chochkova/Wikimedia

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Photo credit: Athena Lao/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / www.historvius.com / Lonely Planet

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