Called Petrich by some, Asen’s Fortress is a medieval fortress in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains. Sitting high on a rocky ridge on the left bank of the Asenitsa River, the fortress was built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great in the 6th century and grew to prominence during the Middle Ages. It fell into ruins after the Ottoman conquest in the 14th century, with only the Church of the Holy Mother of God surviving. One of the oldest remaining Eastern Orthodox churches, the two-story building features a large rectangular tower and mural paintings that date back to the 14th century. Renovated in 1991, it is used today by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The fortress is also a stop on a hiking trail that takes hikers on to several chapels and, eventually, Bachkovski Monastery.
Asen’s Fortress is located 20 kilometers south of Plovdiv and about three kilometers south of the village of Asenovgrad. Buses to Asenovgrad leave from Plovdiv’s south bus station on bul. Hristo Botev about every 30 minutes during the week and slightly less frequently on the weekends. Trains also run between Plovdiv and Asenovgrad hourly. Walk or take a taxi up to the fortress from Asenovgrad.
Plan to spend about 45 minutes at the fortress. Guided tours in English are available for an extra cost.