Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria, close to the Serbian-Bulgarian border. The town of Vidin is situated 199 km northwest of Sofia, on the right bank of Danube River. Vidin was linked with Calafat town (in Romania) by a ferry until 2013, since the opening of the Danube II Bridge, which connects it nowadays with the city of Calafat in Romania, and has become the new symbol of the town. Vidin features a fertile hinterland renowned for its rich wines and agriculture and trading.

Vidin was established by Celts who named their settlement Dunonia /”fortified hill”/, which evolved into a Roman fortified town called Bononia, governed by Romans until 46 AD during whose reign town became the important center of the Upper Moesia Province of the Roman Empire, encompassing the territory of the present day northwestern Bulgaria and eastern Serbia. Slavs settled the territory of the town and named it Bdin or Badin, which name is in use until present. Most important landmark of Vidin is the Baba Vida Fortress built in the period from the 10th to the 14th century on a big curve of the Danube River in the northeast part of the town. During the Middle Ages Vidin used to be an important Bulgarian city, residence of Shishman, the founder of the last Bulgarian kings dynasty, a bishop seat and capital of a large province. Between 971 and 976 the town of Vidin was the center of Tzar Samuil’s possessions while his brothers ruled to the south. In 1003 Vidin was seized by Emperor Basil II after an eight month siege because of the betrayal of the local bishop. Its importance once again rose during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185–1396) and its despots were influential figures in the Empire and were on several occasions chosen for Emperors. From the mid 13th century it was ruled by the Shishman family. In 1356, Bulgarian Tzar Ivan Alexander isolated Vidin from the Bulgarian monarchy and appointed his son Ivan Stratsimir (1356–1396) as absolute ruler of Vidin’s new city-state – the Tzardom of Vidin (Bdin / Badin). Magyar crusaders occupied Vidin in 1365 when it was named Bodony, who were expelled by united Slavic Bulgarian Empire in 1369. The Bulgaria’s medieval state empire came to an end when the whole territory of Bulgaria and surrounding region fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1393, that formed the Ottoman province, the Rumelia Eyalet. After the Ottoman conquest all major centers of Bulgarian culture were destroyed, most of the written works were lost and the educated clergy that survived escaped to other Slavic countries. Bulgarian culture entered a long period of slumber, during which it was isolated from many of the processes that occurred throughout the rest of Europe. Events of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 led to the re-establishment of Bulgarian state with the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878. The third Bulgarian state has been finally completely independent since September 22, 1908.

Baba Vida Fortress is one of the few entirely preserved Medieval castles in Bulgaria. Baba Vida Fortress is situated on a big curve of the Danube River Danube in the northeast part of the town. Its construction started in the 10th century at the place of an Ancient Roman watchtower of the lower Danube River called Bononia. The Baba Vida Fortress consists of 2 fundamental walls, a courtyard and 11 impressive towers. Baba Vida Fortress was main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and the most important fortress of northwestern Bulgaria.

Regional Historical museum of Vidin is one of the oldest scientific and cultural institutions in the town. The start of the museum activity in Vidin region is around 1910 when the Archaeological Society was established and the first museum collection was arranged. The museums is structured in several sections: – Archaeology (departments Prehistory, Antiquity and Middle Age) – the rich exposition of the department is located in the restored building of Konaka (1977); Numismatics – over 30 thousand coins; Ethnography – the exposition has been located in Krastata Kazarma (the “cross-shaped barracks”) since 1969; Bulgarian Lands 15th – 19th centuries – the exposition is located in Konaka Museum (Old Turkish Police Station); Modern History; Recent History; Public Relations. Konaka museum in Vidin is housed in building that is a unique architectural and cultural monument of local significance, built up in the 18th century and served as a Turkish police station. After the Liberation from the Ottomans it was reconstructed and Bulgarian Renaissance architecture elements were introduced. The Konaka Museum was open in 1956. The exposition traces back the history of the Vidin region from the remote past to the Liberation. Konaka Museum is part of the Vidin Regional Historical Museum. Other interesting sights of Vidin – the Turkish konak (the second half of the 18th century), the mosque and library of Osman Nuri Pasha, the cruciform barracks of 1798, old Renaissance buildings, a synagogue.

Near the village of Archar, 17 km south of Vidin, there are the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Ratiaria, founded by Moesi, a Daco-Thracian tribe, in the 4th century BC, along the Danube River. The city had a gold mine in the vicinity, which was exploited by the Thracians. The Roman settlement Ratiaria arose at the beginning of the 1st century AD as a military center and a significant military garrison was stationed there. In honor of his victory over the Dacians, Emperor Trajan constructed Moesian Ratiaria and proclaimed it the capital of the Roman province of Dacia Ripensis. After AD 106 the Emperor Trajan withdrew the troops and the settlement was granted the status of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria. The town developed soon as a big craft center, where goldsmith trade was of great importance. Digging in the ruins of a house, archaeologists found two necklaces, four rings, two earrings, a pin, and a solid bracelet made of 23-carat gold. For more than two centuries (2nd-4th century AD) Ratiaria was the most significant military and economic center in today Northern Bulgaria, a stronghold of the Roman culture and civilization. One of the Emperor’s six armories was settled here. An important bishop’s center was established in the town in the 4th century AD. Restoration activities took place during the reign of Anastasius I which was reflected in the new town’s name – Anastasiana Ratiaria. The bright culture of Ratiaria can be perceived in the sculptures, the gravestones and sarcophagi, in the architectural fragments and the elegant poly-chromatic mosaics. It seems the overrunning of the town in 586 by the Avars led to the end of its existence.

 

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