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Bulgaria lacks well-preserved mediaeval fortresses, and the recent craze for rebuilding ancient and medieval remains into shiny towers and fortifications just adds modern insult to historical injury. However, on the northern slopes of the Rhodope there stands one fortification that will almost certainly satisfy your thirst for authentic ruins.

A tiny church is perched on a steep rock overlooking the narrow gorge of the Chepelarska River. A winding road leads up to the height, where the remains of the castle are, a brick-and-mortar confection in the Byzantine style popular across the Balkans in the 12th-14th centuries. Today, the nearby town is famous mostly for its numerous shops selling affordable wedding and prom gowns, but the tourists come solely for the fortress before venturing deeper into the Rhodope.

Where in Bulgaria are you?

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