Journey back in time to one of Bulgaria’s most fascinating and most visited Medieval attractions, Asen’s Fortress.
Formerly known as Peter’s Fortress, the site is located on the left bank of the Asenitsa River within the Asenovgrad region of the Rhodope Mountains. Preached high above the surrounding terrain, Asen’s Fortress is encircled by vertical rocky cliffs making it virtually an impregnable position from attacking forces. Its natural geographical defensive position and strategic location is reason to have been used successfully over history as a fortress for the Thracian civilization down to the Ottoman Empire.
What will you see and do at Asen’s Fortress?
- Asen’s Fortress gives visitors the opportunity to view a perfect picture of a Medieval military fortification.
- Visit the Church of the Holy Mother of God
- You’ll get a small taste of Medieval times
- Visit St. Atanasi Chapel, St. Nikola Chapel, St. Dimitar Chapel and St. Iliya Chapel.
- Trails that allow hikers to trek the Roman Road between Asenovgrad and Bachkovski
The fortress was constructed over three periods in history, the 9th,11th and 13th centuries. The Byzantines would break ground on the small fortress tower in the 9th century and continued construction over the next few centuries.
In 1231, after centuries of attacks, and sieges. Tsar Asen II completed one of the largest expansions and renovations of the fortress. In 1934, the fortress was renamed to Asen while the inhabitants of Stanimaka renamed their city to Asenovgrad in his honor.
Asen’s Fortress was captured by the Byzantium after Tsar Ivan Asen II‘s death. Later in 1344 the fortress would be reoccupied by Bulgaria under Tsar Ivan Alexander only to be conquered by the Ottomans Turks Empire during its invasion of Bulgaria at the end of the 14th century.
Historical documentation revealed that after the death of Sultan Bayazid in 1402 of the Ottoman Turk Empire. A struggle ensued for the succession of the fortress between his sons Syuleiman and Musa. During this time, the fortress was further fortified by Musa. To no avail because Syuleiman was still able to take command and over throw his younger sibling. After Musa’s failed attempt to resign supreme over Asen’s Fortress, Syuleiman would completely destroyed the fortress down to its foundation so it could no longer appeal to opponents of the empire for its strategic location. For undisclosed reasons the church was spared and is now considered one of the most impressive and preserved samples of Medieval Christian architecture in the world.
Throughout its history, the fortress would be under control by the Thracians, Romans, Crusaders, Bulgarians, and Ottomans. Archeological records and artifacts have been discovered and archived which are now preserved and displayed at the Historical Museum of Asenovgrad. Based on excavation of the fortress, archeologist have uncovered the foundation of a feudal castle, with a living quarters complex, churches, two reservoirs, a fortress watch tower and all which are woven together by stone steps and interlocking passageways. Beneath the feudal castle, discoveries were made of what is now known as the church courtyard of the Blessed Virgin of Petrich Church.