June 20 -- Vidin, Bulgaria

Vidin, Bulgaria

Vidin is one of the oldest cities in Bulgaria, with a rich history. Its history begins in the 1st century when it was overcome by the Romans and became called Bononia. In 1396, the Ottomans defeated the last Bulgarian stronghold - the one in Vidin. They ruled there until 1878, when Vidin was liberated from the Turks. 

In 1942, Vidin experienced a flood due to the rising Danube. It was a great tragedy, but Vidin managed to overcome the problem with the flood, the diseases, and famine. Since then, Vidin has been an important military commercial and transport center for 200 years. There are many landmarks that exhibit the glorious past of Vidin: Baba Vida castle, the Vidin Synagogue (deserted after Jewish emigration to Israel), St. Petka church, the Osman Pazvantoglue mosque and library (built by the late Turkish ruler of northwestern Bulgaria in the 18th century), the Krastata Kazarma and St. Dimitar church.

Vidin is currently the poorest city in the EU, but it is a beautiful town with many historic and cultural landmarks. Tourism has experienced a decline except for groups that come along the Danube on cruises, but a visit to Vidin is definitely worth a visit. The people tend to be more hospitable here than in larger cities like Sofia. In Vidin, there is a foreign language school and young people can usually speak English well. In other schools students learn English, too. For elderly people, there is a language academy, usually teaching English or German. There are a lot of Vlachs (Bulgaro-Romanians), so knowing Romanian is always a plus! Many residents work on farms in nearby villages, raise domestic animals, and sow plants, and so this region is famous for its production of food.

Unfortunately, because of its economic issues, Vidin has many problems. Lack of funds has caused the sidewalks and streets to fall into disrepair, and many buildings are vacant and crumbling. There is no university in the northwest region, so young people mostly move to other cities or countries. There are many stray dogs and cats, but they are usually docile. Air pollution and littering are major issues, despite students’ attempts to clean the town. Vidin is, however, one of the safest cities in Bulgaria.

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