Nature park Russenski lom: Cultural heritage
Last but certainly not least is the cultural and historical heritage of the park. The first signs of human habitation in the park date from prehistory. More recent ancient cultures had left many traces, too, which visitors discover with great interest. The Thracians lived here. Romans came here in the first century A.D. Ruins of three Roman-Byzantine fortresses in the park were dated back to the Roman period. Later, Bulgarians constructed inaccessible rock buildings to protect themselves from their enemies. During that time (13th-14th centuries) the medieval town of Cherven was one of the most important military, administrative, economic, religious and cultural centers in Bulgaria.
In the network of valleys medieval monastic people constructed dwellings and churches in the very rock faces; the individual dwellings number approximately 250; 40 of these are located in the park’s territory.
The archaeological reserve “The Rock Churches” near the village of Ivanovo includes the rock monastery “St. Archangel Michael.” It was one of the largest ecclesiastical and literary centers of Bulgaria during the 13th and 14th century. Well preserved frescoes in six churches and chapels are the most precious achievements of Bulgarian medieval art in 15th century. Frescoes in the church “St. Mother of God” are included in the List of World Cultural & Historical Heritage of UNESCO. The church is situated at 38 m height and has 2 rooms and a chapel. The total area is 64m2. The walls and roof are entirely covered with icons.
The other churches with preserved frescoes are on the opposite riverbank of Roussenski Lom. Frescoes from 12th and 13th century, a rock grave and a writing place can be seen there.
The archaeological reserve “The Medieval Town of Cherven,” located next to the modern village of Cherven, includes the ruins of a castle, a church (seat of regional ecclesiastical power) and a boyar palace (seat of regional secular power). The best preserved medieval tower in Bulgaria can be seen here. A fortified underground water-source can also been seen. The tower is square, with sides of 8.5 meters and is 12 meters tall. The total area of the ruins of this medieval city is 2.5 decares.
Other interesting historical objects are The Big Monastery of Nissovo, The Little Monastery of Nissovo, an old cemetery from 17th and 18th century and the ruins of the village of “Chilingira.”