FINDING GOD'S BRIDGЕ

FINDING GOD'S BRIDGЕ

Tue, 11/30/2021 - 12:41

Natural phenomenon lies hidden near Vratsa

gods bridge

It is easy to say that the Bulgarian Northwest has been forgotten by God. Economically depressed and depopulated, it has for years consistently topped the EU's least developed regions list. Yet, when you visit the Vratsa region you will find yourself surrounded by stunning, and even sublime, landscapes and natural wonders. Here, the mighty peaks of the Stara Planina mountains hang over the town, enfolding delights for visitors of any shade and persuasion. The undulations of the plain that start from there also hide another treasure: two rock bridges carved by nature.

The name of this phenomenon hardly comes as a surprise: Bozhi Most, or God's Bridge.

Which particular god created this phenomenon is not clear, though the legend is positive about one thing: the deity in question created the bridge to span a capricious river prone to violent floods that could destroy everything in their way.

gods bridge

Lilyashka Bara brook, which created the stunning God's Bridge, is low and quiet most of the time

When you visit God's Bridge today, you will be surprised by how tame this river, the Lilyashka Bara brook, actually is. The legend was metaphorically right, however: the rivulet is the reason why the stone arches of God's Bridge exist.

It all started during the Early Cretaceous period, which covered between 145 and 100 million years ago and saw the emergence of bipedal predator dinosaurs (T-Rex's grandfathers) and the ancestors of modern birds. 120 million years ago, no such animals lived on the spot where God's Bridge would eventually appear. Instead, there was a shallow sea there. It was inhabited by much smaller fauna: single-celled organisms called orbitolines, clams, snails, sea urchins, brachiopods and ammonites. These creatures may have been smaller and less impressive than dinosaurs, but they were many. Over time their dead bodies accumulated on the seafloor and slowly solidified into rock.

Aeons later, the Lilyashka Bara brook carved its way into this rock. Initially, its activity was hidden below ground, where it created a large cave. Several thousand years before our time the roof of this cave was exposed, and erosion from sun, rain and wind took over. Eventually, the two rock bridges appeared.

stunning landscape

Stretched between the plain and the mountains, the region offers spectacular vistas

The larger of them is the showstopper: about 20m high, 12m thick and 25m wide. Beneath it there is a cave that is 20m wide, 17m high and 60m long. The smaller bridge can hardly be seen, but it also hides an expansive cave. The two caverns are connected by a pass, which contains a lake.

Despite its beauty, God's Bridge remains relatively unknown to tourists.

There are several ways to reach this natural phenomenon, which is located between the villages of Lilyache and Chiren. If you are on the Vratsa to Oryahovo road, take the turn for Chiren, and then the dirt road that you see to the left. A second option is to go to Lilyache and, from the centre of the village, follow the signpost for the "eco path." The third route involves taking a dirt road through the fields between Lilyache and Chiren; to find it you'll need directions from some of the shepherds who are usually near the road.

Today the place looks desolate, at least most of the time, but it was not always so. In Antiquity, a busy road used to pass nearby. It was so important that the Romans built a small fortress on a neighbouring hill. Its modest, crushed-stone walls can still be seen, peeping above the thicket-overgrown ground, not far from God's Bridge. In fact, the first two paths leading to the rocky phenomenon take you close to the fortress.

roman fortress

A Roman fort used to protect a road that passed by the nature phenomenon

The presence of these ancient ruins, along with the magnificence of the God's Bridge, is why local treasure hunters have come up with another legend for the locality. According to their lore, the Roman Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena used to reside in the cave under the bridge. The queen's golden loom is said to have been hidden there.

The inhabitants of the nearby villages have another, more mundane name for God's Bridge: Zhabokrek, or Frogscroak. Why? In summer, when the water in the Lilyashka Bara is shallow, hundreds of frogs croak in the small pond formed by the brook under the stone arch. This sound echoes beneath the imposing rocky dome at all hours, a befitting homage to the humble prehistoric organisms whose petrified bodies created this stunning phenomenon. 


us4bg-logo-reversal.pngVibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners


Issue 182 America for Bulgaria Foundation Nature Natural phenomenon

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

sozopol from air
SOZOPOL WITHOUT TEARS
Should I visit Sozopol? There is hardly a place that divides opinion more than this town on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Yes, by all means do go to Sozopol, will urge some of your Bulgarian friends.

roman plovdiv theatre
EXPLORING ROMAN PLOVDIV
Plovdiv claims 7,000 years of uninterrupted history, starting from prehistoric times, but the earliest visible traces of this long past are much younger.

An Orthodox Satan is about to devour a unrighteous man in the village of Teshovo, western Bulgaria
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
Guidebooks boast about the beauty and artistic importance of the murals in Bulgaria's churches that date from the later centuries of Ottoman domination.

thracian gold treasure
TOMBS, TREASURES AND ROSES
Everyone has heard about the Valley of the Egyptian Kings, but Bulgaria has its equivalent.

vidin fortress danube
VIDIN: CITY ON DANUBE BANK HOLDS HOST OF SURPRISES
Where can you find some intriguing Jewish heritage? No, the answers to these questions do not lie in established destinations. The place where you can see all of these is Vidin, the largest city in Bulgaria's Northwest.

shabla lighthouse
SHABLA: HIDDEN GEM TUCKED BETWEEN SEA AND LAND
Some cannot get enough of its beaches, beauty spots and tourist amenities, while others lament that much of its calm and pristine nature has been lost to overdevelopment.

boyana church sequoia
BULGARIA'S REDWOODS
Bulgaria may be famous for many things but sequoias is apparently not one of them. Think again.

tryavna
BULGARIA'S CLOCKTOWERS
Today, knowing what time it is becomes a problem only if the battery of your smart phone is dead and there is no one around to ask. For previous generations, it was different.

rila monatery from the air
WINTER IN RILA MONASTERY
As the largest and most famous monastery in Bulgaria, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rila Monastery can appear a little overwhelming if you visit in high season or during major Christian festivals.

orpheus grave tatul bulgaria
SEARCHING FOR ORPHEUS
Huddled deep among the hills of the Eastern Rhodope, Tatul could be any one of the many hamlets that you pass through while travelling in this area. Yet, it is not an ordinary Rhodope village.

communism bulgaria political prison belene.jpg
DARK TALES IN BELENE
Belene is a backwater of a town on the Bulgarian bank of the River Danube. It is inhabited by less than 8,000 people. Yet, for more than one reason, its name is known to all Bulgarians.

Petrified Wedding in the Rhodope
QUIRKY ROCKS OF BULGARIA
The ability to spot visual patterns in seemingly chaotic landscapes, preferring false positives to false negatives, has been cruciвal for the survival of the human race.