The town of Vidin (69 803 inhabitants) is situated in the lowest terrace of the Vidin Lowland along the Danube River. It is located 199 km northwest of the city of Sofia, 102 km northwest of the town of Montana, 52 km northwest of the town of Belogradchik, 56 km northwest of the town of Lom and 30 km southeast of the border town of Bregovo (Serbia). The climate is moderate continental. The winters are very cold, with minimum precipitation, while summers are extremely hot.
Vidin has existed since the beginning of AD chronology. A first century BC tombstone lets us know that it is the only town in Bulgaria that has been standing where it is for 2000 years now. The Celts called it Bononia.
Bulgarians conquered it during the reign of Khan Tervel. Mediaeval records mention it as Budin, Budun and Bdin. Baba Vida is the mediaeval castle in the best state of preservation in Bulgaria, though there is hardly any other that has been besieged so many times. The castle dominates the big curve of the river; the upper defence platform commands a lovely view. As the castle was built and rebuilt time and again between the 3rd and the 19th century it could be a sort of a textbook of the history of fortification in Bulgarian lands.
Vidin is a complex mix of elements from all periods of its development. The antique Roman, mediaeval Bulgarian, Turkish, post-Liberation and new period of Vidin’s development have all left their mark on buildings, monuments and on the look of the city as a whole.
The town of Vidin was established in the 3rd century BC and has been developing for centuries. Although no archaeological evidence was found to firmly support this, it is presumed that the area was first settled by the Thracian tribe - tribali. The Roman conquest of today’s northwestern Bulgarian lands began during the third decade BC and continued until 46 AD. The town was a part of the Roman provinces of Moesia, Upper Moesia and Coastal Dacia.
During the Roman period, the city was called Bononia. At the time of the mediaeval Bulgarian State, it was known as Budin (until the beginning of the 11th century) and as Bdin (after that) and was a seat of a military and administrative region. In the second half of the 13th century, it became the main town of the Vidin Principality, and later - Vidin Kingdom. Turks called the town Vidin. Written evidence shows that, as one of the most important ports, the town was a prospering commercial and economic centre. The crafts were extremely well-developed, initially only to meet the needs of the Roman, and later, of the Turkish army, but sufficient also to meet the needs of the citizens.
The most typical features of the antique Roman, mediaeval Bulgarian, Turkish, post-Liberation and new Vidin have combined to form today’s mixture of different ages. The beautiful nature and the specific atmosphere created by the remnants of the past ages, combined with modern buildings, determine the town’s modern look, lifestyle and uniqueness.
Vidin is also known by its beautiful riverbank park. The unique layout of the park, a mixture of different styles, was preserved through the centuries. The combination of an English park layout and baroque forms of vegetation gives the park a unique, typically Bulgarian look. The riverbank park is located along the bank of the Danube and includes wonderful beaches and recreation places.
Vidin is rich in historical landmarks. The 10th century Baba Vida Fortress has been completely preserved. The fortress played an important role in the town’s defense during the mediaeval period and was completed in the 14th century. The other Vidin fortress, Kaleto, was first built by the Romans. In the Middle Ages, it was reconstructed and has been partially preserved. The two fortresses are national monuments of culture and history. Koluka Turkish konak became a museum in 1956.
Other architectural, cultural and historic monuments include: the cross-shaped Barracks; the Turkish post office; the art gallery; the Mathematics High School building; Synagogue; Drama Theatre; St. Dimitar Church; St. Pantheleymon, St. Nikolai and St. Petka churches, the Mausoleum of the first Bulgarian exarch Antim I, as well as many other monuments of world, national and local importance.
The road network has internal and regional importance. An important road is E79 international road Vidin - Montana - Vratsa - Botevgrad – Sofia. Two European transport corridors cross the town: No.4 Kraiova (Romania) - Vidin - Sofia – Kulata and No. 7 along the Danube River. Vidin - Kalafat (Romania) ferryboat line is located 2.5 km away from the town and serves European transport corridor No. 4: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania (Kalafat), Bulgaria (Vidin), Greece and Turkey.
The Vidin-Calafat Danube Bridge is of key significance not only for the development of the Pan-European Transport Corridor ІV but also for the entire South-East European Transport Axis and the Trans-European Transport network. It gives opportunities for combined transport and for transferring certain volumes of traffic from road to rail.
Vidin is connected to all communities within the country and to the border checkpoints via railroads. Railroads have a great importance for the town. On the average, 10 trains depart and arrive at the Vidin passenger train station. The freight train station is comparatively new, on an area of 230 decares. Its capacity is 20-30 tons of loading/unloading works and freight processing per day. At present, it is not being utilized at full capacity.
Vidin River Harbor Custom processes cargoes and passengers on European transport corridor No. 7 (along the Danube): Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. It is situated in the centre of the town.
Water transport- Vidin North Port, close to the Ferryboat and the duty free zone, 2.5 km away from Vidin.
The large Danube River (a border between Bulgaria and Romania) runs past the town, which is on its right bank. It offers wonderful opportunities for rest, sport, fishing, water tourism and many other activities. There is a big water tourist base in the northern suburbs of the town. Excursions along the river are organised with small tourist ships, hired from the river station. The Danube is an exceptional natural wealth, which can be used by future generations of the ancient town as well. Orlyaka recreation area is located on the riverbank, 4 km southwest of Vidin. This area consists of the Dunav camping lot. The area provides great short-term recreation opportunities, such as water sports and fishing. It is easily accessible from the city. Vidin-Kalafat ferryboat line is located close to the area. Area visitors include transit tourists, both Bulgarians and foreigners. Accessible by a paved road.
Bozhuritsa recreation area is located 18 km away from the town, between the villages of Sinagovtsi, Ivanovtsi and Milchina Luka. Has a small dam. The area disposes of a total of 600 beds, including those of Bozhuritsa Hut and the recreational facilities, owned by companies and organizations. The area offers short-term and long-term recreation opportunities in a forest environment, as well as swimming, rowing and fishing opportunities. The possibilities for forest walks and treks are great and the area is abundant of mushrooms, wild fruits and herbs. The existence of wild game (deer, wild boar, rabbits, pheasants, etc.) offers good hunting opportunities. The area can be easily accessed from Vidin and the neighboring communities. Regular bus lines are available.
Ratsiaria is the name of the ancient Roman town near the village of Archar, 27 km southeast of the town of Vidin, near the Danube. Its ruins are 2 km to the west of the village. There is a regular bus transport from Vidin, as well as from the town of Lom.