"Vidin - Steeped In History Yet Forward Looking" Top 5 Page for this destination Vidin by johngayton
Vidin Travel Guide: 48 reviews and 126 photos
Vidin is Bulgaria's most northerly town of note and is situated on the bank of The Danube where the river kinks and widens as it flows towards the Black Sea. This location has meant that Vidin has always commanded a strategically important role on the river with its history stretching back to a Celtic settlement called Dunonia. The modern Vidin is best known as the ferry crossing between Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania and for the past 2000 or so years the town has had a rich and varied history much of which is immediately accessible for the interested visitor.
The Danube formed the northern border of the Roman empire and an important Roman fortress known as Bononia was built here, traces of which still remain. After the Roman departure in AD 46 the area was settled by the Slavs who named it Badin (or Bdin), and became known as Vidin sometime after the emergence of Bulgaria as an independent state around the turn of the millennium.
Vidin has since followed pretty much the history of Bulgaria as a whole; through the 2 Bulgarian Empires, Byzantine and Ottoman Rule, and in more modern times the communist era, all of which have left their visible traces in the town and its surroundings.
Vidin's most prominent historical site is the medieval Fortress of Baba Vida overlooking the Danube to the north of the town which has been superbly restored. Scattered around the town itself are several other historically important structures including a clutch of churches and quite interestingly many of the 17th century town porticoes which show that the actual physical size of the town has changed little over the past 400 years.
Arriving in Vidin from the railway station my first impression was provided by the spaciousness of the town with its main square, little piazzas, wide tree-lined streets, gardens, parks and of course the river itself. Even the profusion of hulking post WW2 communist-era apartment blocks do not detract from this overall sense of space but almost complement it by providing a counterpoint which emphasises just how well laid out the town actually is.
Of course there is much more to a town than just its physical structures and location and whilst it may be a cliche to say so: it is the people who make a place. The town centre is a little dishevelled in places, daubs of grafitti, artistic and otherwise, proliferate, but children play happily in the streets and parks until dusk without requiring close supervision, older folk sit in the riverside gardens comfortably passing the time of day. When I visited, on the spring weekend just before Easter, there always seemed to be someone tidying things up, trimming hedges, sweeping streets, making repairs, the service in the local bars and restaurants was mostly friendly and smiling. All of which are as good indicators as any of a place's self-confidence.
This is definitely not a "down-at-heel" town, there was definitely an atmosphere of optimism and of civic pride, which given Vidin's recent economic misfortunes (with a couple of major local factories closing) was quite surprising. The town's future is largely linked to the replacement of its ferry by a bridge across the river which will reestablish Vidin's strategic role here on The Danube, this time round as part of the greater scheme of the European Union, and I wouldn't be surprised to find the place immaculately spruced-up next time I visit.
- Pros:Lots of Space, Nice People and Pretty Women!
- Cons:Still A Little Scruffy In Places
- In a nutshell:Nothing A Little Spit and Polish Wouldn't Solve!
Having escaped the unkempt scruffiness of Sofia it really was a pleasure to encounter a place where the local people... more travel advice
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