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Bulgaria

Cherven Medieval Town


Location: The Medieval town of Cherven is located on the right bank of the Cherni Lom River, just 31 km away from Rousse.

The Cherven stronghold 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.
Just like most of the fortified towns from that time, it is built on a hard to access rock hill, surrounded by the Cherni Lom River. It can be reached only by 235 stone stairs.

History: The 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 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 neighbouring hills. The town had a complex fortification system and was completely built up. 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 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.
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 by 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-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. The site has been a national archaeological reserve since 1965 and is also a popular tourist attraction.

Cherven was burned to ashes by the Ottoman Turks in 1388. Today we can see the castle remains, part of the stronghold wall, the tower, the embrasure, the two gates and the bases of the churches.

Today the stronghold in Cheven is the best preserved fortress from the medieval time, in Bulgaria andtogether with Valley of Roussenski Lom River are preferred attractions for many travelers.
Several cosy hotels offer comfort and shelter for those who wish to feel the real charm of the site. To explore in depth the secrets of the Valley of Roussenski Lom River and the medieval town of Cherven, make sure that you have at least 3 days to spend in the site.
There is a regular bus transport between the settlements in the site.

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