The Unconquerable Fortress

Novinite Insider » DESTINATIONS | February 9, 2007, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 25
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Bulgaria: The Unconquerable Fortress The St Mary church stands as a guardian of the stronghold. Photo by Assenovgrad Historical Museum

You don't need to go to Denmark, France or Britain if you want to see medieval fotresses and palaces. You can just come to visit Bulgaria and see with your own eyes what an unscalable fotress means. 2 km south of the town of Asenovgrad, above the road to Smolyan stands the historical Assenova Krepost (Assen's Fortress), which had existed even during the Thracian ages.

By Lora Petrova

The earliest archaeological findings date from the time of the Thracians, the area of the fortress being also inhabited during the Ancient Roman and Early Byzantine period. The fortress gained importance in the Middle Ages, first mentioned in the statute of the Bachkovo Monastery where it was referred to as "the stronghold of Petrich" in the 11th century.

During the Middle Ages the fortress was subject to large-scale construction work, the most significant part of which was done in the 13th century under Tsar Ivan Assen ІІ. An eight-line inscription in Bulgarian at the entrance of the fortress commemorates his glory. "In 6739/1231/, Indiction 4, Ivan Assen, by God's will Tsar of the Bulgarians, the Greeks and other peoples, installed Alexi Sevast here in power and erected this fortress". It was this inscription that encouraged people later to give Petrich Fortress a new name - Assen's Fortress and to rename the nearby town of Stenimachos Assenovgrad.

The fortress became strategically important in medieval ages after the battle at Klokotnitsa (1230).

Due to excavation works were discovered the fortress walls, the castle of the feudal lord and three water reservoirs. But the only preserved and most remarkable building in the fortress is a 13th-century church called St Mary of Petrich. It is two-storey, cross-dome, one-nave church with a wide narthex and a big square belfry above it.
It is for the exquisite architecture, the plastic decoration of the south facade and the fragments of the inique 14th-century murals that this church is said to be one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Bulgaria.

Taken by the Byzantines after Ivan Asen II's death, the fortress was once again in Bulgarian hands at the time of Ivan Alexander in 1344 only to be conquered and destroyed by the Ottomans during their rule of Bulgaria.
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» To the forumComments (25)
#25
Rollingstoned - 12 Feb 2007 // 20:32:30

I agree. I like most types of music and I'll be the first to admit that some of it is awe inspiring and some of it, is crap. I like Chalgra but I am not real familiar with it enough to "judge" it or diss it. The only experience that I have with Chalgra is from what my friends have shared with me. Seems like fun music and with me having two left feet, I think I could even dance to it...LOL Perhaps on a table top too if I am drunk enough! :-))

Kolega,
I am surprised that the older you get, the less you like Jazz. I have always considered Jazz as "old peoples music" even though I enjoy it too. ;-)

CS
Most Jazz musicians in Bills day drank whiskey and shot up heroin.
PS
Playing an instrument fast and in control isn't the determining factor of being a good musician, some of the simplest notes and sometimes the fewest notes can mean more and say much more too. Notes are like words, sometimes 10 mean more than 100

Blues music has an interesting "birth" but like rap music the whites stole it and made it "better". One can use their own opinion to believe that or not.

All music rocks, if it makes you feel good and if it makes you want to get up and dance, it has succeeded in achieving it's main purpose.

#24
DP - 11 Feb 2007 // 19:26:18

“kucek is for men in Turkey, women dance a bit differently, but its great to have a man and a woman both dancing on the table in fair competition;”

CreepyS,
We have quite a bit of Bulgarian/Macedonians friends here, born and raised in Istanbul, who throw great weddings! We have danced many a time, men and women, in fierce competition and enjoying it thoroughly! ;)))))I also like Serbian and Croatian music (if you know the Bulgarian Harvest Songs, and if you appreciate them, you might like to know that they have exactly the same kind of songs in Herzegovina.

All of that folk music is very enjoyable, but only in limited quantity and in the right environment—as far as I am concerned. :)

#23
CreepyS - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:54:24

DP,

>The first time I heard chalga was here, and it was brought by the new immigrants. It sounds more gypsy than turkish.

Yep, thats it - for the chalga (gypsy) musicians back then folk music was god and Ibriama was its prophet on Earth, and Ibriama played all - bulgarian music (from all parts of the country), turkish music, serbian music he didnt like so much (I think) but the gypsies did. So they learned lots from this mixture and just put a bit of special touch as they understood it;)

As for the dance, kucek is for men in Turkey, women dance a bit differently, but its great to have a man and a woman both dancing on the table in fair competition;)) There was such thing at the summer fair in Elhovo, Ive heard that a BG turk danced against a gypsy woman but I didnt go;(

#22
Kolega - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:53:51

CS is right about Jazz and Chalga - basically the same social dynamic behind them, only the lyrics of Chalga are much closer to Country Music than Jazz, which seldom has lyrics to talk about.
I enjoy "good Chalga" occasionally and the older I get the less I like Jazz - I can't believe I listened to it for hours as a young man...

#21
CreepyS - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:37:28

wildthing,

But you dont put any arguments - you just repeat its not true, i am ignorant etc;) Why its not true - tell me how jazz was created and by whom, i told you about the chalga creation, and then one can compare.

Now, look, my father was a classical musician, I listened quite a few classical music, jazz, rock, etc. I have friends who are musicians, so I know a bit about the lifestyle of the musicians. It just happened to have a closer look at some chalga musicians some years ago, and to realize that musicians have all the same job regardless of the style they play.

Personally I wont spend hours listening to chalga, i would rather listen to good jazz or rock but on the other hand there is no reason to dash the style as such.

As for the word snobbish as far as jazz is concerned, I have no problem to remove it from my posts.

#20
DP - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:35:22

“Basically chalga is quite a musical genre, just like jazz is, and the latter was also created for fun by black musicians. So there is no place to get particularly snobbish by declaring "I hate chalga" as some people do - Id say there is good chalga and bad chalga, but all in all its an awesome dance music. Why hate it - lets dance;)”

CreepyS,
The first time I heard chalga was here, and it was brought by the new immigrants. It sounds more gypsy than turkish. And of course, before chalga, we had famouse accordion and clarinet performers like Boris Karlov (not to be confused with the horror movie actor) who was from gypsy background. In character though his music was Bulgarian. Very lively and irresistible!;)

I would not go as far as draw a parallel between chalga and jazz. Chalga is strictly dance music, while jazz has its operas, symphonies, concertos (Porgy and Bess, Rhapsody in Blue). Still waiting for Gershwin of the chalga ;)))))

As far as “I hate chalga” line goes—often, it is nothing more than fake snobbery (for real snobs don’t dance to the music).
As a matter of fact kiuchek is a pretty nice dance too—great for dancing by men and women( preferably on the top of a table)... never mind that it is turkish! LOL

#19
viking - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:21:40

wildthing,

How is it possible to be "offended" by someones subjective ideas about music?
That is just a little "over the top"!!
I think most jazz sucks and most chalga is trash.
That will never mean it is trash or is bad, just my opinion!
I actually enjoyed a live chalga performance and was made to rethink my ideas.
The videos are not and will never be chalga!

viking

#18
wildthing - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:12:47

PS - I think if people don't understand, feel or simply like some kind of music, they start to feel intimidated by it and dismiss it like "snobbish".

#17
wildthing - 11 Feb 2007 // 18:06:25

CreepyS,
"Why do you feel so offended that chalga and jazz are pretty much related to the same lifestyle and skills and have been created in a similar way?"

Because this is not true and I find your selfassured ignorance offensive. And what's that nonsense with jazz being "snobish" music?!

#16
CreepyS - 11 Feb 2007 // 17:58:06

wildthing,

>CreepyS, you are talking about chalga as it was years ago and doesn't exist anymore

Well, thats the chalga I know, now I see its grown to a big business but I dont spend much time in BG lately to be able to judge how much real talents are active now in this music style and how much is the crap;).

Why do you feel so offended that chalga and jazz are pretty much related to the same lifestyle and skills and have been created in a similar way? I like jazz a lot, in the beginning it was not at all snobbish music. Now if you listen to a chalga composition, they introduce the theme, then there come the improvisations, then the tune closes with playing the theme once again - its just like in bebop compositions, one to one correspondance.

#15
wildthing - 11 Feb 2007 // 17:38:29

CreepyS, you are talking about chalga as it was years ago and doesn't exist anymore; now there is the chalga industry of Planet with their silicon babes and computer-generated sound. Still I think it an offensive absurd to compare chalga to Jazz! Have some rakia to clear your ideas!

#14
CreepyS - 11 Feb 2007 // 17:29:38

wildthing,

LOL;))) Well, I said that usually chalga lirics is not really a supreme poetry (still, there must be some good texts, no way that all chalga lirics is total crap).

For the rest I maintain what I said - do you play some instrument? can you replay anything you hear at prima vista? can you improvise? how fast can you play still having complete control of what you are doing? the really good chalga musicians are able to play whatever you want, to improvise and are masters of their instruments, so what is the difference between them and jazz musicians? only that our folks drink rakia while the jazz folks drink whisky (or whiskEy) and smirk cocain;)

#13
wildthing - 11 Feb 2007 // 17:06:08

CreepyS said:
"Basically chalga is quite a musical genre, just like jazz is, and the latter was also created for fun by black musicians. So there is no place to get particularly snobbish by declaring "I hate chalga" as some people do - Id say there is good chalga and bad chalga, but all in all its an awesome dance music. Why hate it - lets dance;)".

To compare chalga to jazz; to say that jazz was created for fun; that there is good and bad chalga, and on top of it - that it is an awesome dance music ! What can I say - such a person knows nothing about music and dancing at all! And obviously doesn't speak Bulgarian - who could otherwise stand the highly "poetic" chalga "lirics"?!

#12
CreepyS - 11 Feb 2007 // 16:49:52

Hi DP,

>Chalga is a new genre of music that appeared sometimes after 1989

Oh, I think it existed already a bit earlier, but was not popular in the big cities and was not a business, you had to go to weddings in the smaller towns - many of the older chalgas were created by wedding orchestra musicians for fun and in a very short time, a night or so - from where the generally pretty simple lirics;)

Basically chalga is quite a musical genre, just like jazz is, and the latter was also created for fun by black musicians. So there is no place to get particularly snobbish by declaring "I hate chalga" as some people do - Id say there is good chalga and bad chalga, but all in all its an awesome dance music. Why hate it - lets dance;)

#11
DP - 10 Feb 2007 // 02:37:25

Correction: different scale, different system of notes, etc...

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