About 1.5km away from Belogradchik, among the popular Belogradchik rocks, is situated the ancient Fortress of Belogradchik. It has stood there since Roman times and was built by the Romans in order to control and protect the path from the town of Ratiaria (near the present-day city of Vidin). In year 395 the Roman Empire split up and the Fortress remained in the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire. It became a part of the newly created country of Bulgaria in the end of the VII century.
Under the reign of the Bulgaria tsar Ivan Sratsimir the fortification was improved and expanded. Ivan Sratsimir built two new barrier walls and situated a garrison in the Fortress. In this period the Fortress of Belogradchik was the second most significant Bulgarian Fortress after that in Vidin. However, in 1396 the Fortress was captured after the Ottoman siege and became a part of the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans had to reinforce the Belogradchik Fortress because of the strong haidouk activity in that part of the Empire. However, till the beginning of the XIX century they only maintained and repaired the Fortress when needed, without changing its medieval look. It was in the beginning of the XIX century, more exactly between 1805 and 1837, when the Fortress of Belogradchik was reconstructed and reinforced under the guidance of French and Italian engineers and obtain its present-day look. The last time the Fortress of Belogradchik was used for military purposes was in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian war.
The Fortress of Belogradchik consists of three yards with total area of 10 210 square metres, connected to each other with the help of massive portals with metal-lined doors. It was planned in such way so that each yard could be defended separately. Some of the edifices the fortress includes are guard posts, cannon platforms, embrasures for guns, barracks and warehouses, arsenals and prisons. There are also mills for salt and corn and four water reservoirs. One of the most significant factors for the defence of the Fortress was the outer defence zone consisting of thick stakes fixed into the ground and chutes full of stone and earth.
An important part of the Fortress of Belogradchik are the Belogradchik Rocks. When the Romans built the Fortress, they used the natural inaccessibility of the Rocks and built only two walls – from north-west and south-east. The fortified walls were about 12-15 metres high and about 5 metres thick. From the other two sides the Fortress is defended till present days from the two huge rock massifs, each about 80-100 metres high.
The Belogradchik Rocks are divided in three groups. Each rock has a name depending on what it looks like and there are different legends about their formation. The Belogradchik Rocks and the Fortress of Belogradchik are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria. In 2009 the Rocks were chosen for the Bulgarian nominee in the campaign ‘The New Seven Wonders of Nature’.