Ruse Museum of History Opens Medieval Fortress Cherven in Northeast Bulgaria for 2016 Tourist Season

The flag of medieval Cherven has been raised on the surviving fortress tower in its citadel for the start of the summer tourist season for 2016. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

The flag of medieval Cherven has been raised on the surviving fortress tower in its citadel for the start of the summer tourist season for 2016. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

The glorious medieval city of Cherven in Northeast Bulgaria, one of the major urban, religious, and economic centers of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), has been opened for visitors for the 2016 summer tourist season.

The start of the new visitors’ season has been symbolically declared with the raising of medieval Cherven’s flag on the surviving fortress tower in the western part of its citadel, the Regional Museum of History in the Danube city of Ruse, which manages the archaeological site, has announced.

The Ruse Museum says that the ruins of Cherven have been fully prepared to welcome visitors by removing weeds from the alleys, replacing rotten wooden banisters, and clearing vegetation from the walls of three of a total of 15 churches in the medieval city.

The ruins of a boyar’s castle and a bishop’s residence from the 15th century have also been cleaned up.

The Cherven Fortress, whose ruins are located near the modern-day town of Cherven, Ivanovo Municipality (Ivanovo itself is famous for its rock monasteries), Ruse District, in Northeast Bulgaria, will be opened for visitors every day of the 2016 summer season until the end of October.

Because of lack of funding, the archaeological exploration of Cherven has not been very wide-ranging in the recent years although in 2014, Bulgarian archaeologists and archaeology students from the UK explored a new section of a previously known medieval necropolis, and further discoveries were made in 2015.

While Cherven was one of the largest urban centers in the Second Bulgarian Tsardom (Empire), it has a much longer history, as its area also features remains from an Ancient Thracian settlement, an early Byzantine fortress, as well as several settlements from the time of the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD).

During the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), and especially in the 14th century, Cherven became one of Bulgaria’s most important cities.

It has been excavated since 1910, with early 20th century excavations being led by Vasil Zlatarski, one of the most renowned Bulgarian historians and archaeologists from the early years of the Third Bulgarian Tsardom formed after Bulgaria’s Liberation from the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1878.

One interesting fact about Cherven is that so far the archaeologists have found a total of 80 medieval inscriptions about church donors there, more than in the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko Tarnovo, where a total of 60 such inscriptions have been found. This is seen as a testimony to Cherven’s importance during the Middle Ages.

The Cherven Archaeological Preserve is located within the Rusenski Lom Natural Park, along the canyon of the Cherni Lom River, in a truly magical and picturesque landscape.

The ruins of the medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven are found on a high rock while today’s town of Cherven, which was set up by survivors after the Ottoman conquest, is located down in the river gorge.

The cultural program of the Ruse Museum for the new season at Cherven features a medieval festival with historical reenactments will be held at the city in May 2016, and another similar event planned for early September.

The Ruse Regional Museum of History expects that at least 10,000 tourists will visit Cherven by the end of 2016.

In 2015, the site saw the highest year-on-year growth (22%) in visitor numbers from among all sites managed by the Ruse Museum, with a total of 11,000 tourists.

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The surviving fortress tower at the citadel of the large medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven. Photo: Cherven.eu

The surviving fortress tower at the citadel of the large medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven. Photo: Cherven.eu

Surviving frescoes from one of the total of 15 medieval churches of Cherven. Photo: Cherven.eu

Surviving frescoes from one of the total of 15 medieval churches of Cherven. Photo: Cherven.eu

A view of the citadel of the medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven. Photo: Trygve W Nodeland, Wikipedia

A view of the citadel of the medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven. Photo: Trygve W Nodeland, Wikipedia

Background Infonotes:

The medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven was one of the most important urban centers in the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD). It is located in today’s Ivanovo Municipality, 35 km south of the Danube city of Ruse, on a rock overlooking the picturesque canyon of the Cherni Lom River, within the Rusenski Lom Natural Park.

It experienced dynamic urban growth after Bulgaria’s liberation from the Byzantine Empire in 1185 AD, and rose to great importance during the 14th century.

A total of 80 medieval inscriptions about church donors have been there, more than in the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko Tarnovo, where a total of 60 such inscriptions have been found, a testimony to Cherven’s importance during the Middle Ages.

It was a center of Christianity as the seat of the Cherven Metropolitan and a center of craftsmanship. Cherven was conquered and ransacked by the Ottoman Turks in 1388 AD.

After the Ottoman Turkish conquest, it briefly preserved some administrative functions but waned and essentially disappeared as an urban center. Some of its survivors settled nearby into the newly founded village of Cherven.

Cherven was first excavated in 1910 by renowned Bulgarian historian and archaeologist Vasil Zlatarski. It has been regularly excavated since 1961. In the recent decades, it has been excavated by Stoyan Yordanov from the Ruse Regional Museum of History.

Archaeologists have discovered there a large feudal palace, fortified walls reaching up to 3 m in width, two well-preserved underground water supply passages, a total of 13 churches, administrative and residential buildings, workshops and streets.

A famous 12 m-high three-storey tower, known as the Cherven Tower, from the 14th century has also been fully preserved and was even used as a model for the reconstruction of Baldwin’s Tower in the Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Tarnovo in 1930.

Cherven’s site also features remains from an Ancient Thracian settlement, a 6th century early Byzantine fortress, and several settlements from the period of the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD).

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