Vraca / Vratsa Bulgaria

Travel Guide to Vraca / Vratsa Bulgaria

Vraca (also spelled Vratsa or Vratza) is an area located in northwestern Bulgaria that sits in the shadows of the Balkan Mountain range. The area is popular with sports enthusiasts as the rock climbing, hiking, and hang gliding is some of the best in Bulgaria.

A couple of museums will entertain guests for a day or so. Also, do not miss the opportunity to take in some of the area culture by catching a folkdance performance or scoping the array of Jewellers in the city centre.

  • Province: Vraca / Vratsa
  • Population: 71,355 (Year 2005)
  • Altitude:344 Metres
  • Postcode: 3000
  • Area Code: 092
  • Geographic Coordinates: 43 12' North, 23 33' East
History

Believed to have been founded by Thracians, Vraca was eventually claimed by the Romans and named Valve (meaning the door of the fortress.) It is thought that this name originated thanks to a narrow passage where the city's main gate was placed. After the fall of Rome, the Byzantium Empire took over the area. Under Byzantine rule, Slavs settled in the area and they renamed the city Vratitsa (also meaning door of the fortress) and turned it into a thriving area for gold, silver, and earthenware production with a strong military base.

During the 8th century, Bulgarian armies captured Sofia. Vraca became much of a wasteland after that as Sofia offered a better strategic position, a better economy, and larger area of land. While Vraca remained a great location for goldsmiths, silversmiths, and potters, the military stronghold weakened and the population dwindled.

Eventually, the area became a thriving trade centre, especially in the area of jewellery making. With many bountiful silver mines in the regions, silversmiths could perfect their craft and sell it to many passing through the area.

By the late 1800s, Russians had entered the area and continued to help the town grow and thrive. As many know, Russian/Communist control only recently ended, so many areas in Bulgaria are rebuilding their future.

Site Seeing

Located in the Balkan Mountains, Vraca offers a number of natural parks and reserves that will appeal to tourists. Vrachanski Balkan is a reserve protecting natural rock formations that jut out of the mountainside and offer incredible rock climbing opportunities. In this reserve, one can also find hiking trails and caves.

The Vratza Museum of History is many years old, but only moved into its modern building in the 1980s. Nine exhibit halls and a number of corner areas display artifacts from ancient Vraca onward. The Treasure Room is a favourite of all visitors. Here many jewels, gold coins, and precious trinkets from the medieval ages are on display.

The Nicolai Voivodov Ethnographic Complex highlights period clothing, furniture, tools, pottery, and more. Nicolai Voivodov was a fighter with the Bulgarian Revolution who lived in the very house where the museum now resides.

Founded in 1909, the State Philharmonic Orchestra has 60 members who perform close to 70 concerts and 2 operas every year. Art enthusiasts will not want to miss one of these performances.

If you time it right, you may be able to catch the annual festival hosted by the Municipal Folklore Dance Group. If not, try to catch one of their thirty performances held in the area every year.

Accommodation

At Hushove, guests will find themselves well satisfied with the cosy rooms, three-floor restaurant, huge outdoor swimming pool, and friendly staff. Three kilometres from the city centre, Hushove is an excellent location for tourists wanting to see both the mountains and the city.

Rooms at Hemus have breathtaking mountain views. All rooms include televisions, private baths, telephones, and air conditioning. Close to many activities, Hemus is an excellent choice.

Gorski Dom is a smaller bed and breakfast type of establishment that can hold 40 guests at any time. Located at the base of the mountain, Gorski Dom is suitable for nature lovers. The in-house dining room serves traditional Bulgarian fare.

Ledenika is part hotel with private rooms and part hostel with dormitories that share a common bathroom. Ledenika offers extremely low rates. This is an excellent selection for students and those on a tight budget.

Vichov Han is an all-suite establishment. The handful of suites offer separate sleeping and living quarters. Rooms are spacious with a small bathroom, air conditioning, and television. There is a restaurant on the premise. The restaurant has seating inside and out. A popular outdoor brick oven serves pizza in the summer months.

Industry

Although tourism is not one of the area’s largest revenue producers, there still is a reasonable tourism base in the area. In the winter, area ski slopes bring many skiers to the outlying city areas. This helps bring revenue to the area hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars.

The city of Vraca has a strong commercial (textiles, metals, chemical, and pottery) base. It is also an excellent area for craftsmen to create and sell their products.

Gastronomy

Four area restaurants offer fine Bulgarian cuisine. There are a few cafes scattered throughout the area, but for the most part, you will find that the restaurants offer a great sampling of dishes.

City Grill is a small cafeteria type of establishment. Diners walk down the length of the buffet style bar and request foods from the cafeteria staff. There are only a few tables, but food can be eaten in or taken out.

Pintata houses a full bar and both inside and outside seating. This is one of the area's better restaurants. Here you can expect traditional Bulgarian cuisine.

At the tavern known as Vratchanska Sreshta, the high-beamed ceilings and gorgeous stone walls create a homey feeling. Food is excellent and contains many traditional Bulgarian dishes. The well stocked bar serves delicious local wines, beers, and spirits.

Perhaps the largest in the area, Complex Triumf is a huge restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor patio has many tables with umbrellas for shade. At night, elaborate dance displays will have guests tapping their feet along to the music.

Nightlife

With its soothing brown and green tones, the Jungle Bar is one of the area's popular choices for kicking back and relaxing. The bar has many seats indoors and a small outdoor patio adds seating.

Triumf is located in the Complex Triumf. A large outdoor dance floor is surrounded by many tables and a fully stocked bar.

Karamel is popular with the young crowd. The neon decor, cold drinks, and lively music keep guests dancing into the early hours of the morning.

The quieter Jazz Club has weekly jazz performances. The dim area is perfect for kicking back, letting the soothing jazz take you away, while chatting and drinking with friends.

Go Play is the area's hottest dance club. Huge dance floors, pulsating lights, and boisterous music bring the establishment to life as soon as the sun goes down.

Summary

One of the more picturesque towns/cities in Bulgaria, Vraca is an area that will appeal to sports enthusiasts. The wide array of accommodation will fit in with many budgets. In addition, the gorgeous rocks of the Balkans draw rock climbers in by the dozens. Make Vraca part of your outdoor vacation plans!