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Belogradchik Rocks score third in natural phenomena ranking

Date: 31.03.2009

The famous Belogradchik rock formation in Northwestern Bulgaria currently occupy third place in the new Seven wonders of the world online poll initiated by a Swiss NGO. The table represents a category designated for caves, rock formations and bizarre natural valleys and others.

First place is occupied by Devil’s Town in Serbia, followed by Amah Rock in Hong Kong. There is still a chance for the Bulgarian wonder to advance up the pecking order because the vote closes on July 7, 2009, the Bulgarian National Radio, the BNR reports.

Of the 260 new entries in the category, 77 will pass to the second phase, which will then be subjected to a second selection process, reducing them to 21. Upon reaching that phase, a professional group of experts will be entrusted with choosing the new seven natural wonders of the world.

The rocks are near Belogradchik, close to the villages of Borovitsa, and Belotintsi. The rocks are a natural complex 30km in length and three km in width. Many of the rocks are connected to ancient legends and myths, a rich folklore that has passed on from generation to generation. The central cluster is south of Belogradchik, which also boosts the most prominent formations - Adam and Eve, The Schoolgirl, The Bear, The Shepherd boy, The Dervish, The First Stabstone, The Camel, The Mushrooms, The Cuckoo, The Red wall, The Madonna, The Horseman, The Monks, The Magic Stone, amd the Rebel Velko, all of which are natural landmarks.

The second main rock formation is just to the west of the town. This particular cluster of rocks has a significantly more Alpine appearance, surrounded by massive precipices. The most famous rocks are Zbegovete, Erqupriya, Boritch.

The Belogradchik rocks are sand-mergel rock, stratified in this region about 200 million years ago (at the end of the palaeozoic period).             

With natural erosion and temperature fluctuations over time, all affecting the Balkans mountain range, rifts have appeared in its highest part. Because of their varying chemical composition and varying hardness, the rocks have eroded unequally. The Belogradchik rocks are therefore a product of nature and the passage of time, moulded into the masterpiece they are today over millions of years.

The area is a magnet for tourists, mountain climbers, hikers and cavers. The area has a vast cave complex, consisting of more than 100 caves, many of them interconnected. The most famous is the Magura cave, 2500m in length, and thoroughly laid out with rigging, lighting and safeguard fittings. The surrounding area is full of beautiful flora and fauna. 

Additionally, the ancient fortress of Belogradchik, is the town's primary cultural and historical tourist attraction, drawing, together with the Belogradchik Rocks, tourists into the region. The fortress is perhaps one of the best-preserved strongholds in Bulgaria and a cultural monument of national importance and heritage.

The first fortress was erected during the Roman Empire. The bizarre design of the Belogradchik rock formations in the area served as natural protection, as the castle's fortified walls were practically only built from the northwest and southeast, stretching from one rock formation to the next, with the rocks themselves serving as towers.

Initially, the Belogradchik Fortress served as surveillance and defence of the region. Under the reign of Bulgarian tsar Ivan Stratsimir, the castle walls and the fortress capacity itself were augmented in the 14th century, building further fortified garrisons along the existing rock massifs. During Stratsimir's reign, the Belogradchik Fortress became one of the region's most important strongholds in the region, second only to the tsar's capital fortress of Vidin, Baba Vida.

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