The Sand Towers of Belogradshik



Diary Entry 7

We set out in the morning at sunrise in order to be able to attend the ceremonial opening of the gates of the Belogradchik fortress in time for the tourist crowds. The event was recommended to us in the travel guide, so we wait in front of the iron-studded gate of the outer wall full of anticipation after buying the tickets for the entrance from a bored blonde. The rush is not yet great. Shortly before nine o’clock there are only three young people waiting next to us, whom we have already met at the Pirin. After a short conversation we learn that they are from Prague.

And then it is time. But no drum roll and no soldiers blowing the first roll call. The bored blonde steps out of her ticket booth and moves slowly, chewing gum with a large key to the heavy gate and opens it so far that we can just pass through.

We are a little disappointed, but the expectation of the view of sandstone towers decorated by medieval masonry at sunrise makes us grow wings and soar up the high irregular stairs. And this time we are not disappointed. We have this natural phenomenon to ourselves and like children we climb everywhere. The view of this archaic landscape is terrific. In front of and lies a valley with a forest as if from a forgotten time, from which bizarre towers made of sandstone protrude in various places.







I can’t get enough of this sight and am only torn from my moment by the invasion of German package holidaymakers. Uwe and I immediately flee, take the car and try to find a road down into the forest to walk between these natural giants. However, a route from Google Maps leads us along a broken street through a quarter of the Roma, who look at us confused. Another route takes us to a viewing platform that was only intended for pedestrians and stops us at a staircase.

We find our way into the bushes, but here, too, difficulties arise, this time in the form of long hissing reptiles that suddenly shoot out of the grass in front of us over the narrow path. We look for another path that runs through the undergrowth and first leads back to our car via a long detour, this time without snakes, but with turtles and spiders.



We think about what we want to do next. There are many caves in Bulgaria, especially in this area. It is not without reason that one of the famous Greek legends about the underworld plays with Orpheus and Eurydice, about Thrace, today’s Bulgaria. A famous cave not far from here is called Magora and it doesn’t take long to get there. It is already late and only one layer of tourists is supposed to be allowed in. But for that we have to wait an hour, because we just missed an opening.

We wait and wait and there are more and more people who want to see the cave as well. An area with historical wall paintings is not available due to alleged renovation, so it is enough for me and I decide not to start the tourist hike through the underground, but persuade Uwe to continue driving. Not far from here is the Rabisha Lake, where it is worth swimming in the heat. 

We are not the only ones there, but it is limited and we use one of the stops for at least a short bath.

I heard about how big the Danube is supposed to be here. The river rises not far from my home village as a small trickle and I would like to see what it has developed into here. Passing endless sunflower fields, we drive northeast in the golden evening light until we actually come across Europe’s largest river, which is up to a kilometer wide and separates the country from its neighbor Romania. It’s a good opportunity to finally pitch our tent and spend a fantastic night on the Danube beach.


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