October is one of the most wonderful months for a walk outside the city. Fall temperatures and days that are still long allow us to stay out late, and the otherworldly colors on the trees make every trip a colorful experience.
Our route today is for the early risers as it is located near Samokov and takes about 2 hours to reach. But trust us, every minute in the vehicle is worth it as you can literally spend the whole day there and there is entertainment for both young and old.
Our goal is the picturesque mountain village of Belchin, located in a valley between the mountains Rila, Verila, Vitosha and Plana, and the large fortress with a chapel on the hill of St. Spas.
Archaeological research there began in 2007, and the cultural and historical complex Tsari Mali Grad (it is believed that this is the old name of the settlement and means small Constantinople) was officially opened on July 18, 2013. It includes a late antique fortress, a church ensemble and areas for recreation and sports. The summit can be reached either by car, taking the road uphill following the sign and traveling 2 km to a wide meadow at the top and a dedicated parking lot behind the fortress, or to stop at the other parking lot in the middle of the village, from where you can take the funicular or two eco-paths. Note that the ropeway only holds 8 people per course and if it's busy, you'll have to wait.
The price of the funicular is:
Adults - BGN 4
Students and pensioners - BGN 2
Children under 6 and people with disabilities - FREE.
You can get on and off with one ticket.
The beginning of the construction of the fortress dates back to the 3rd century, during the reign of Emperor Valens - 364-378. Over the centuries, it was attacked and destroyed several times until the 6th century, when it was collapsed by a strong earthquake.
During the archaeological excavations, parts of the foundations of three temples were found, built almost on top of each other, which testifies to the traditions and continuity over the centuries. Today, the medieval church has been completely restored, but is not operational, with information boards on its walls that tell about Christianity in the area.
In the two completely restored towers of the fortress, the exhibition of finds recreating the household and life in it is arranged - ceramics, a large number of coins, knives, arrowheads and other military paraphernalia.
Until the end of October, the days off are Monday and Tuesday, and the opening hours are 9.30 am to 5.30 pm during the week and 6.30 pm at the weekend. From November, the visiting hours are respectively until 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
The ticket price is: Adults - BGN 7 (fortress + ethnographic museum).
Students and pensioners - BGN 4 (fortress + ethnographic museum).
Children up to 6 years of age and people with disabilities with papers presented on site - FREE
Behind the detached summit complex there is a gorgeous meadow with a tiny caravan and suitable fire pits, gazebos and seating tables. The space is perfect for a picnic, and even if you don't bring anything to eat, you can count on the establishment. In good weather, horse riding is offered, and the playgrounds are a perfect option for children's entertainment.
A rope bridge has been built for direct connection to the fortress, which is also an interesting attraction for visitors.
The view from the top is magnificent, and the village of Belchin is so tidy and picturesque that it can easily rival any alpine village.