Petrich Kale Fortress was destroyed by the Crusaders

The fortress was built in the 5th-6th century to serve as a Byzantine military fortification

A building that has survived over 16 centuries, despite the many battles it has witnessed. If you’re interested in witnessing such a marvel, consider treating yourself to a journey to Petrich Kale Fortress. The fortress stands near the village of Razdela, Avren municipality, and is only 7 kilometers away from the center of the neighboring Beloslav municipality. It was built in the 5th-6th century to serve as an early Byzantine military fortification.

Petrich kale

Tourists can still see how impregnable the Petirch Kale Fortress was centuries ago as they climb towards their final destination. The walk, which is quaint and pleasant, will take anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour. The place where the fortress was build was chosen carefully. From the west and north sides, it is protected by impenetrable sheer cliffs reaching up to 35 meters. At the same time, there is a very deep valley under the fortress from the east. Nature itself shielded the fortress from attacks from three sides. Petrich Kale Fortress could only be entered from its south side along a narrow rocky strip connecting it to the Avren plateau.

Petrich Kale Fortress was used as a defensive fortress both during the First and Second Bulgarian State. In addition to the military fortification, a settlement grew near it. In the 12th century, the Arab traveler Muhammad al-Idrisi described Petrich Kale Fortress as a large and beautiful city. In the 14th century, the fortress was captured by the Ottomans. Several dozen years later, it was destroyed during Vladislav Varnenchik’s crusade against the Ottoman rulers.

Today, tourists can walk along the almost 7-meter preserved walls of Petrich Kale, take pictures against the high towers, and descend a steep staircase to its water reservoir. If you follow the GPS, you might be tempted to drive to the very top of Petrich Kale. We admit we did just that. But you’ll be in for a surprise, as the relatively easily passable road actually ends at a private property’s fence and there’s no way to get to your final destination. Therefore, it is better to park on the makeshift lot next to a tall electric pole with a sign pointing to the Petrich Kale Fortress and continue on foot.

Shortly before the fortress you will encounter a wire fence with small flags hanging on it. Bravely jump over the fence, which apparently protects the local cows, but also shows the route onwards, and in minutes you will reach the first of the two preserved towers of Petrich Kale. The fortress had two huge rectangular towers measuring 11 by 9 meters, positioned 50 meters from each other. Only 7 meters of their height remain preserved, the rest lost to time. In another large tower that protected the approach to the fortress, archaeologists have found pottery and animal bones.

Within the fortress a small single-nave church with a very strange and atypical apse, as well as graves, have been uncovered. Archaeologists have also discovered many arrows, rings, belts and ornaments, and silver coins from the time of Vladislav Varnenchyk. At the top of the fortress you will also see a metal cross, which is a memorial to the flood in 2015. With a little bit of faith, such a disaster would never happen again. The cross is powered by a solar panel and is illuminated in the evening. The panorama from the fortress itself is also impressive.

This content has been prepared as part of a project of the Ministry of Tourism.

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My greatest pleasure in life is to travel. Undoubtedly there are a lot of amazing places around the world worth visiting at least once in life. However, Bulgaria is such a place where you will wish to come back again and again. In every season and every region of this small country, you can find unique wonders. So share my travels.