The remains of a fortress with a strategic location and a two-story church. That’s Asens Fortress. You can go there by car, although there are also people who prefer to walk there. At the entrance of the area the view is already incredible, and it only gets better. The stairs will lead you around the top of the hill towards the church. It’s also possible to walk the stone stairs up the hill from where you will have a wide view. Because after all that’s the reason the fortress was build here. I’ve never seen a church with 2 floors that are both open for public. The idea for the first floor was an ossuary, a place for graves, but it was never used this way. Now it’s some sort of mysterious ceremonial place, with chairs, candleholders and rock formations.
On the second floor you will find the main part of the church. The plaster isn’t what it used to be and the paintings aren’t intact, but it’s beautiful. With a little bit of luck the sun will shine through the windows which makes it magical. It’s a light, silent, bright, old place.
The Thracians saw the potential of the location in the 5th century and build the first fortress. It was rebuild in times of the Roman Empire, as a defend against Slavics. When in hands of the Byzantines, the first tower was build. In 1204 the Crusaders took over, but not for long. In 1231 king Asen II led the expansion and rebuilding of the fortress. The fortress got his name, aswell as the city next to it, Asenovgrad (City of Asen). In times of the Ottomon Empire, Sultan Bayazid took over. After his death in 1402 and a short time of leadership by one of his sons the fortress was destroyed to make ure opponents of the throne wouldn’t take over and use it’s strategic location. Only the church was saved.
How to get there?
Drive to Asenovgrad on the 86. This road will lead you through the town. For those of you who love wedding dresses, make sure to keep your eyes wide open! When you see the river in front of you the road will bow to the right a little bit. You will have a rock formation on the right after which will be the exit to Asens fortress. There’s a brown sign on the left side of the main road that says ‘Asens fortress, 2 km, –>’. Follow this road, it will lead you to the entrance of the fortress. There’s a little parking lot behind the ‘office’ where they sell tickets, to get there follow to road until after the bend. It’s really close, you just have to know it! A ticket will cost you aroud 3 leva.
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