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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Bansko Kale (Gradisheto)

Dear friends of "Photo moments", one of the first warmer days of March has finally arrived and I have embarked on a wonderful new journey, which I hasten to share with you all.


Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) above the village of Banya, Panagyurishte
Bansko Kale (Gradisheto)

The starting point for today's sunny journey is the village of Banya, Panagyurishte municipality.


How do you get to the village of Banya?

Banya is located in the mountainous region of Sochtinska Sredna Gora, in the Buta-Bana valley. The Banska Luda Yana river flows through the village, which flows into the Panagyurska Luda Yana river.



The village is 11 kilometers from the town of Panagyurishte.


Spring in the village of Banya, Panagyur region
Spring in the village of Banya

To the west of the village is Gradishteto peak (614 meters above sea level), which we will climb today.



Entering the village of Banya, I headed to its westernmost end, where the park of the village is laid out.


As soon as I arrived, the ruins of Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) were visible in front of me, and the Bulgarian tribagrenik waved proudly above them.


Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) above the village of Banya, Panagyursko
The cherished goal today

In this part of the village is the street "Mineralni Izvori", from where the park starts and where the Banya Spa is located, which operates every day without interruption.



Right next to the Balneolechebnitsa is also this bridge, built over the Banska Luda Yana river, from where the path to my today's adventure begins.


A bridge over the Banska Luda Yana river in the village of Banya, Panagyurishte region
Bridge over the river Banska Luda Yana

If you stop on the bridge, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the river and a beautiful artificial waterfall.



The sign informed me of the correct direction – right after the bridge. In this part, the trail winds along the Banska Luda Yana river.


The path to Bansko kale (Gradishteto) and the Banska Luda Yana river
The path to Bansko kale (Gradishteto) and the Banska Luda Yana river

The path is clearly marked and there is really no way to go wrong.



Soon I find myself in the middle of a wonderful corner built - benches along the river for resting, tables for eating and drinking, and the Ayazmoto built right along the river.


The path to the Holy Trinity Monastery Church
The path to the Holy Trinity Monastery Church

From here, the narrow path leads to the Holy Trinity Monastery Church, which is visible in the distance.



I drive to the church.


Monastery Church "Holy Trinity" in the village of Banya, Panagyurishte region
Holy Trinity Monastery Church

Near "Sveta Troitsa", hard-working hands from the bathhouse have built an incredibly beautiful picnic area in the middle of nature - barbecue, tables, benches, a model well and a slide for the little ones.



From here passes the path to Bansko kale (Gradishteto) – clearly and precisely indicated by a series of signposts-arrows that guide me perfectly, so that in about 20 minutes (without breaks) I have already almost reached today's cherished goal.

Due to the unevenness, the ascent will seem serious to you, and plan for a serious number of breaks!



Spring is here! Along the path, superb spring smiles have bloomed, delighting me with their colors and making me want to photograph them.



The path leads me to the top of the hill where it splits into two – the one to the left will take you to the ruins of Bansko Kale (Gradisheto) and the one to the right to a panoramic platform with three benches and a fantastic view.


I take a left.

After about a minute, the tricolor flag, which is placed over the ruins of Bansko Kale (Gradishteto), is already waving in front of me.


Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) above the village of Banya, Panagyursko

It was built in the early Byzantine period and is part of the Srednogorsk defense system. The fortification covers an area of 8 acres and has well-preserved sectors of fortress walls and towers.


Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) above the village of Banya, Panagyursko

The fortress is located in a strategic location. One of its main functions is to guard the Roman road that connects the Zlati field with the Upper Thracian lowland.


The village of Banya is famous for its hot healing mineral springs. This was also the case thousands of years ago, when ancient settlements arose around these same springs.


Information sign Bansko Kale (Gradishteto)
Information sign Bansko Kale (Gradishteto)

Currently, parts of the southern fortress wall, two towers and other buildings have been uncovered. It has been established that the fortress was used in two periods:

  • Byzantine - from the IV century to the VI century

  • Medieval - from the XI century to the XII century.

In all probability, Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) was captured and burned during the massive attacks of Huns, Avars and Slavs.

The fortress was rebuilt in the Middle Byzantine period, with the damaged walls repaired and a second tower erected next to the southern fortress wall.


Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) above the village of Banya, Panagyursko
Remains of ceramics

The fortification was burned again probably at the end of the 12th century during the Third Crusade. An iron crossbow bolt (heavy arrow) head, which was found in the burnt remains next to the southern fortress wall, dates from this period.


Panoramic view from Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) in the direction of the village of Banya and the entire Buta-Bana valley
Panoramic view from Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) in the direction of the village of Banya and the entire Buta-Bana valley

From the ruins of Bansko Kale (Gradishteto) there is a wonderful view of the entire village of Banya and the Buta-Bana valley.


After exploring the interesting ruins, I advise you to continue along the shaped narrow path winding along the edge of the hill.

From here there is a wonderful view of Bansko Kale itself (Gradishteto).


View of Bansko Kale (Gradisheto)
View of Bansko Kale (Gradisheto)

Continue for a few more minutes along the shaped path and it will take you to the Gradishteto area, and from there to the Gradishteto peak, from where there is also a phenomenal view.



The top of the peak is reached relatively quickly.


Gradishteto Peak
Gradishteto Peak

From the top of Gradishteto, a 360-degree panorama of the entire surrounding area is revealed.


Panorama from Gradishteto peak above the village of Banya, Panagyurishte region
Panorama from Gradishteto peak above the village of Banya, Panagyurishte region

The return path to Bansko kale (Gradishteto) is the same as when returning to the starting position, remember not to immediately go down the path, but continue a minute further along the edge of the saddle in a northwesterly direction.


Panoramic site Sveta Petka above the village of Banya, Panagyursko
Panorama of the area

You will find yourself at the end of the rise where local volunteers have built a wonderful panoramic platform with three benches where you can sit, rest and enjoy the fantastic view.


Panoramic platform above the village of Banya, Panagyursko
Panoramic site

A votive cross is placed near the pews, and the place is known as Sveta Petka.


Votive cross near the "Gradishteto" panoramic site above the village of Banya, Panagyursko
Votive cross

Having rested properly and taken in the view, head back along the path to the Holy Trinity Monastery Church and back along the river to the Balneolechebnitsa.


I wish you a wonderful spring walk!


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