Baldwin’s Tower of the Tsarevets fortress in Veliko Turnovo was in dire need of repairs, lest it becomes too dangerous for visitors, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said on February 19.
The tower, one of the main stops on the sightseeing tour of one of Bulgaria’s biggest historical tourism draws, was last repaired six years ago using municipal funding, but was about to become a public hazard, BNT said.
The main reason is that visitors sometimes would pick stones out of the tower’s walls and floors as mementos, or to lob them off the precipice into the Yantra River, according to the head of the local history museum.
“There is a lot of vandalism, many visitors pick rocks out and throw them into the river, which is right under the tower. The problem has been around for several years, but we either don’t have enough money or there are other priorities,” Ivan Tsurov was quoted as saying.
In 2012, an estimated 20 000 people visited Tsarevets fortress, one of the landmarks of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s medieval capital. Local residents, interviewed by BNT, said that there should be hefty fines imposed on anyone found engaging in destructive behaviour, as well as a permanent guard stationed on site.
The cost of repairs is estimated at 15 000 leva (about 7500 euro), with funding expected to come from entrance fees paid by tourists visiting Tsarevets fortress.
Baldwin’s Tower is named after Baldwin IX of Flanders, one of the leaders of the Fourth Crusade that sacked Constantinople in 1204, and the first emperor of the Latin Empire established by Crusaders after their conquest of the Byzantine Empire.
In 1205, Baldwin led a Crusader force against Bulgarian tsar Kaloyan and was captured after the Battle of Adrianople. He died in captivity in Kaloyan’s capital, Veliko Turnovo, several months later – according to Bulgarian legends, in the fortress tower overseeing the Yantra River. The modern tower was built on the same site as the medieval one in 1930, based on the design of a surviving medieval tower in the Cherven Fortress, near Rousse on the Danube River.
(Baldwin’s Tower, middle, as seen from outside Tsarevets Fortress. Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis)