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Dates of visit:
September 1 - 20, 2010

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Meeting Cousins
 Historic Bulgaria
 Roman Ruins
 Nature Reserves
 Rock Churches
 Black Sea Coast


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Bulgaria - Part 0 - Introduction, Portrait & History of Bulgaria
Bulgaria - Part 2 - Nove, Ulpia Eskus, Belogradchik Fortress, Vratsa
Bulgaria - Part 3 - Sofia, Rila Monastery, Trigrad, Shiroka Laka, Plovdid
Bulgaria - Part 4 - Nesebar, Balchik, Kaliarka, Yailata Reserve, Tsarevets Hills
Romania - Part 1 - Arges Monastery, Poenari Fortress, Alpine Pass
Romania - Part 2 - Sibiu, Fortified Churches of Biertan and Viscri
Exploring Bulgaria's Cultural Highlights
Rock Churches of Ivanovo

The World Heritage List was established under the terms of an international treaty called 'The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage', adopted on November 16, 1972 at the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and in effect since 1975. Bulgaria came to be among the first twenty countries, which entered and signed this Convention. The World Heritage Committee has placed the following 9 sites on the List of Cultural and Natural World Heritage: the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, the Ancient City of Nessebar, the Horseman of Madara, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Boyana Church, Rila Monastery, and the nature reserves: Srebarna Nature Reserve and Pirin National Park.

Rock Church of IvonovoThe Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo are an integral part of the large monastery complex called "St. Michael the Archangel," an exceptional spiritual and literary center of Bulgarian Medieval art. This complex was developed during the time of the second Bulgarian kingdom by church hermits. The 14th-century murals, rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries, monk's cells, and unique mural paintings in the style of the Tarnovo and Constantinople School (14th century) survived to this day, having weathered the vicissitudes of history.

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Gallery - Rock Churches of Ivanovo
Rock Church Rock Church Rock Church
Rock Church Rock Church Rock Church

Rusenski Lom Natural Park

Rusenski Lom Natural ParkNature Park of Rusenski Lom is one of the ten nature parks of Bulgaria. It is situated along the canyon type valley of Rusenski Lom River - the last right feeder of the Danube. The park has been a protected area since 1970 and embraces a territory of 3408 hectares and is recognized as an interesting and precious site of high aesthetic value preserving beautiful riverside terraces, meanders, high vertical rocks, areas of rich variety of species, caves, rock formations, historical monuments of national and international significance. It satisfies people`s recreation needs and gives an opportunity for scientific and exploration activities.

The Nature Park is bordered by six villages: Ivanovo, Koshov, Cherven, Nissovo, Svalenik and Pisanets. Nearby the park are Vetovo and Tabachka. All of the villages have a population less than 6,000, more of them have less than 1,000 residents. The people there live calm, quiet lives. Raising animals such as sheep, goats, cows and others is the most common livelihood. Beekeeping is also practiced by a number of residents. The rich soil is put to good use in people's gardens, where they grow fruit, vegetables and flowers for their own use..

The Rusenski Lom Natural Park protects the shallow limestone canyons of the three Lom rivers and their associated caves, forests and grasslands. The Park is just south of the Danube in the northern Bulgarian lowlands, near the city of Ruse. The HNV area extends to about 10000 ha, but of this only just over 3400 ha is covered by the Natural Park designation. Within the Park itself, four fifths of the area is classed as forest. By contrast, within the three municipalities which make up the area, over 90% of the land is large scale intensive cropland. The HNV farmland, though significant, is found in a thin strip between the arable and the forest and in small patches within the forest, especially on the valley bottoms.

The main issue arising here was the mismatch between policy and reality in a number of areas. The use of forest land by farmers; the importance (or not) of farmers for the maintenance of areas within the Park; the legal status of small farmers (and especially small-scale goat herders) and the allocation of communal grazing land between producers were all examples where policy seemed not to be interacting with the realities on the ground, but where such interaction would seem to be essential for the survival and maintenance of the HNV farmland.

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Gallery - Rusenski Lom Natural Park
Rusenski Lom Rusenski Lom Rusenski Lom

Medieval City of Cherven

The stronghold of Cherven (Bulgarian: "red") was one of the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary military, administrative, economic and cultural centres between the 12th and the 14th century. The ruins of the fortress are located near the village of the same name 30-35 km south of Rousse, northeastern Bulgaria.


Medieval City of ChervenThe town was a successor to an earlier Byzantine fortress of the 6th century, but the area has been inhabited since the arrival of the Thracians. Cherven was first mentioned in the 11th century in an Old Bulgarian apocryphal chronicle. It gained importance after 1235, when it became the seat of the medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Bishopric of Cherven. It was affected by the Mongol Golden Horde raids in 1242 and was briefly conquered by Byzantine troops during the reign of Tsar Ivailo (1278-1280).

During the second half of the 14th century, the stronghold's area exceeded 1 sq. km. and had intensive urban development, including a fortified inner city on vast rock ground in one of the Cherni Lom river's bends, and an outer city at the foot of the rocks and on the neighboring hills. The town had a complex fortification system and was completely built up. Cherven grew to become a center of craftsmanship in the 14th century, with iron extraction, iron working, gold smithing, 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 center of trade.

Cherven was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1388 during the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars, initially retaining its administrative functions but later declining in importance. The modern village of Cherven, located close to the ruins of the fortress has, as of September 2005, 302 inhabitants. Cherven Peak on Rugged Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Cherven.

Archaeological site

The remains of the medieval town of Cherven are an archaeological site of great importance to the research of Bulgarian culture of the Middle Ages. The first excavations were carried out in 1910-1911 under professor Vasil Zlatarski, while regular research on the site began in 1961. Currently, archaeological work is being conducted by Dr. Stoyan Yordanov of the Rousse Regional Museum of History. Dr. Yordanov has over thirty years of experience working at Cherven, and leads excavations atop the Cherven old town site every summer.

A large feudal palace, fortified walls reaching up to 3 m in width, two well-preserved underground water supply passages, 13 churches, administrative and residential buildings, workshops and streets have been excavated. The 12 m-high three-story 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. The site has been a national archaeological reserve since 1965 and is also a popular tourist attraction.

HINT: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 45-60 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Gallery - Medieval City of Cherven
Medieval City of Cherven Medieval City of Cherven Medieval City of Cherven
Medieval City of Cherven Medieval City of Cherven Medieval City of Cherven

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