Assen’s Fortress

The famous Assen’s fortress is situated in the Rhodope mountains. The first archeological findings at the spot date back from the V – IV century BC, when the Thracians built a small tower, to guard the nearby road. Later it was used by the Romans and become a part of Byzantium, after the Roman Empire split in IV century AD. The fortress fell into Bulgarian hands in the second half of the IX century. The biggest construction was done during the reign of the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Assen II, when it was used for protection against the Latin Empire. The stronghold bears his name, because of an eight-line inscription in Old Bulgarian, carved into the rocks.

A side view of the fortress

The stronghold occupies 15 acres and had a citadel, towers, two water reservoirs and a chapel. The outer fortified walls are well preserved. They are 2.9 m thick and 3 m high. The walls are following the natural topography of the area and are built only where the slopes are open to enemy attacks. The entrance, which was located on the southwest side of the stronghold, led to the citadel.

The fortress from the front

Narrow pathway leads to the citadel

Another view of the pathway

A view of the mountain surrounding the stronghold

The Assen's inscription

The chapel is well preserved. Its first floor was intended for an ossuary, but it was never used. The church is on the second floor. There are well preserved murals from the XIV century. The church was restored in 1991 and serves as an Orthodox church since. A legend says that the Turkish sultan liked the murals inside the chapel and that’s why it wasn’t destroyed like the rest of the fortress.

St Mary of Petrich Church

St Mary of Petrich Church

St Mary of Petrich Church

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