Most ships dock in Vidin for excursions to Belogradchik Rocks, about an hour away. But don't be afraid to poke around town in the afternoon. While it is not a thriving city, you can use your imagination to see the surviving baroque buildings and stone temples as they were in the town's heyday before it was greatly altered by communist rule.
What We Love
Belogradchik Rocks: This striking series of rocks has taken on intricate shapes over the centuries, and many local legends have been passed down through the ages. Some, such as the Cuckoo and Bee Stone, are named for the sound the wind makes while passing through the rocks.
Osman Pazvantoglu Mosque: This mosque in Vidin is the only one in the world topped with a heart instead of a half moon.
Best Known For
Fortress Baba Vida: Easily the top attraction in Vidin, this is the most well-preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria. Admission is inexpensive, but you must have cash and it must be Bulgarian lev. Also, be aware that at some spots there are no ropes separating ledges from 100-foot drops.
Vidin Synagogue: Built in 1894, this unusual neo-gothic temple is in ruins — roofless, crumbling, and surrounded by weeds. Still, you can imagine what it looked like back in the day, and see the testament to wealth and pride it once was. Restoration efforts began and collapsed with the fall of communism. There is a plan to turn it into a museum, but no actual work has begun.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: Vidin dates back 2,000 years and has the Roman, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Soviet architecture to prove it. From the Baba Vida fortress to the Church of St. Demetrius, the country’s second largest church, and the Osman Pazvantoglu Mosque and Library, the past is easy to see in the present.
Intrepid Travelers: Vidin is an undiscovered town. If you can get past the tired look of the city, you can see the remnants of what Bulgaria’s main gateway to the West looked like before communism came to town.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Skip the Sandals: The streets are a hodgepodge of different materials, and not in good condition. It’s very easy to catch a toe and go flying. Sturdy shoes are a must.
Closed for Business: Those hoping to pick up souvenirs in town could be disappointed. Most stores were not open while our ship was in port — on a Saturday.
Dena Roché is a Phoenix-based contributor to ShermansCruise whose work has been featured in Modern Luxury, Robb Report, and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons.