Cherven Fortress: Crafting The Bulgarian Empire

July 23, 2009, Thursday // 06:50
Cherven Fortress: Crafting the Bulgarian Empire: Cherven Fortress: Crafting The Bulgarian Empire
The Cherven fortress near Ruse, Bulgaria. Photo by

Our journey around the Bulgarian paradise is never ending and this time I am taking you back on the road to Ruse, a road infamous for many reasons and especially popular with long distance truck drivers.

As you are nearing Ruse from the South keep a look out for signs to Cherven. You should come across them on your right hand side about 30 to 35 km South of Ruse. Now you may be wondering why, well, apart from stunning scenery the fortress at Cherven was one of the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary military, administrative, economic and cultural centres between the 12th and the 14th century.

Cherven was first inhabited by the Thracians, 2,5 thousand years ago. Later it became a Roman fortress, but was overtaken by the Bulgarians around 6th century AD. The settlement gained importance after 1235, when it became the seat of the medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Bishopric of Cherven.

During the second half of the 14th century, the stronghold underwent intensive urban development, including a fortified inner city. Cherven grew to become a centre of craftsmanship in the 14th century, with iron extraction, ironworking, goldsmithing, construction and arts being well developed.

The town was an important junction of roads from the Danube to the country's interior, which also made the town a key centre for trade. Cherven was conquered by the Turks in 1388, initially retaining its administrative functions but later declining in importance.

Thanks to extensive archaeological excavations the remains of a large feudal palace with fortified walls reaching up to 3 meters in width, two well-preserved underground water supply passages, 13 churches, administrative and residential buildings, workshops and streets can be seen.

The 12 meter high three-storey keep from the 14th century has also been fully preserved and was even used as a model for the reconstruction of Baldwin's Tower in Tsarevets, Veliko Tarnovo, in 1930.

Sorry, but to explore the entire site be prepared to walk and walk and walk.


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