Vidin is a city in northern Bulgaria, situated along the Danube river bordering Romania. Besides, Vidin is quite near the Serbian border as well. Vidin has always been a crossroads of routes heading in all directions. The city has a new bridge crossing the Danube to Romania, which is very convenient for trucks making their way through this part of the Balkans.
Vidin has a long history city and besides the modern bridge, it has many well-preserved historical sights. The landmark of Vidin is the Baba Vida fortress, built between the 10th and 14th Century. It is said that this is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria. In the 14th Century, Hungarian forces conquered the city and its fortress. Vidin regained independence after four years, yet this freedom was short lived. The city fell in hands of the Ottomans, who spread their rule until 1878; when Vidin became Bulgarian again.
Another mark of Vidin's glorious past is the Synagogue. This treasure became abandoned after a large Jewish migration to Israel and was left to decay ever since. One can only imagine how it looked in its glory days. Nowadays, the synagogue has no more roof and the elements are taking over. It is a sad sight but the stucture remains beautiful in its own way. Do beware when visiting as the vegetation inside could cause you to trip.
After the fall of communism, the city coped with serious depopulation. Currently, it is the 20th city of Bulgaria by population, having about 47.000 residents. Due to a lack of funds, the city's infrastructure and architecture lack maintenance. Nonetheless, the young population takes good care of the city. Vidin boasts many old orthodox churches, examples of renaissance architecture and even a mosque. Furthermore, the riverside park is very pleasant to stroll around.
Vidin is about five hours by train from Sofia while it takes four hours by bus. This city is worth a visit if you combine it with other sights in the northwest of Bulgaria. To name a few; the Belogradchik Rocks or the Magura Cave, near the village of Rabisha. Additionally, you can pass the Iskar Gorge north of Sofia, thus including a very scenic route in your trip. If you decide to go by train, you pass the Iskar Gorge as well. Besides seeing the long canyon, you pass endless fields of grass, sunflowers and the towns Vratsa and Montana.
Vidin is a long way; do bring something to eat and drink. For those traveling by bus, it is the same story. In case you fancy a visit to the Belogradchik Rocks by public transport as well, leave the train in Gara Oreshets and take a cab from there. Gara Oreshets has one family that drives cabs. All people you come across in Gara Oreshets know the family so feel free to ask anyone. Count about twenty minutes to Belogradchik once you arrange a cab ride. A hint; ask for the driver's phone number so he picks you up later, to transfer you back to the train station. Both Vidin and Belogradchik offer plenty of accommodations to spend the night.