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History of Vidin

The past of this town dates 23 centuries ago. As early as 3rd century BC the Celts built a settlement here with the name Dounonia (a high and fortified place). The Romans put into final shape the fortress with the purpose to guard the border road along the Danube and named it Bononia. Bulgarians named the town Bdin, and Byzantines - Vidini. In the meantime it was ruined and built again many times. In 1003 Gavril Radomir, the son of the Bulgarian Tsar Samouil, stood the 8-months siege of the Byzantine Emperor Vassilii II. The town reaches the greatest flourishing at the end of 14th century, when it becomes a capital of the Bdin Kingdom of Ivan Sratsimir (1360). It has been a port on the river and an important trade centre of goods not only for domestic needs, but also for transit trade with Vlashko (Romania), Madzharsko, Dubrovnik, etc. A gospel from 1360 says that it was written in the great and crowded town of Bdin. The rise of the town ceased in 1396 when the Turks invades it. Since then Bulgaria started counting the 482 dark years of Ottoman rule, the 127195 endless days of persecution, terror, human misery, assimilation and overt genocide.

In those centuries Vidin had been a great fortress and an important administrative centre. In 17th century it was even called  the main town of Bulgaria. In 1794-1807 the town became a centre of the absolute Turkish military leader Osman Pazvantooglu, who declared himself an independent ruler of a considerable part of Bulgarian northwestern territories. During his rule construction on a large scale developed in the town - new streets were made, big administrative buildings rose, mosques and medreses (Islamic religious schools) were built, etc. Some of them are preserved even till now. Vidin gradually turned into an oriental town, especially after the settlement of some Turks after the defeat near Vienna and the liberation of Serbia. Expression of desperate fight for national liberation was the famous Vidin Uprising of 1850 headed by Boiadzhi Stanko Voivoda. Gradually with development of shipping along the Danube and with the strengthening of the trade ties with Central Europe the standard of living of its inhabitants rose. Through Vidin Port Austrian Shipping Co. bought the production of the whole Western Bulgaria, incl. Macedonia. That went on till 1866 when neighbouring Lom was connected through a road with Sofia and replaced Vidin.

After the Liberation (1877) the town changed basically its ethnical population in favour of the Bulgarians. During the Serbian-Bulgarian War after the Union of Eastern Roumelia with the Bulgarian Principality (1885) Vidin was successfully defended by captain Atanas Uzunov. The town is a birthplace of the eminent Bulgarian social activist Naicho Tsanov and of world famous artist post-impressionist artist Jul Pasken (Iulius Pinkas, 1885-1930), a brilliant representative of the Paris School of Art.

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