Vratza is a town with 79 850 resident population located in the north-east foot of the Vrachanska mountain on both banks of the river Leva. It is 115 km north of Sofia, 38 km southeast of Montana, 80 km south of Kozlodui, 75 km far from Oryahovo and 53 km away from Botevgrad.
The combination of lovely nature and rich culture and history turns the town into a popular tourist center.
The name of Vratza came from the beautiful gorge Vratzata near which the town is located. The Byzantium chronicle writer Procopius (VI century) mentioned about the existence of a fortress in that naturally protected defile. The present town of Vratza is a heritor of the medieval Bulgarian town of Vratitza (coming from Vratza - door, gorge). In X-XI century it was a center of a busy area where agricultural and animal products were successfully exchanged. The rich copper and lead ledges in the region took to mining progress which advantaged the urban sprawl. In XIII-XIV century Vratitza was a fortified town. Remains of the medieval fortress survived until today. During the time of the Ottoman domination it was an arena for destructive engagements as a garrison and a roadside town, which protects the passes and routes to the Danube ports and the interior of the country. It established itself as a large crafts, trade, administrative and cultural center by the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Meat diet and milk foods as well as products of the local tailors, curriers and goldsmiths were trading not only in the area but also on the markets-place in Lion, Vienna, Bukurest and Constantinople. Copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold were obtained. Along with the progress of goldsmith's trade the celebrity of the town grew. In the middle of XIXth century Vratza was already a rich town trading with silk, wool and hide; there were more than 13 000 residents and 2500 houses. Churches, schools and houses were built. The patriotic deeds of Sofronii Vrachanski left a lasting mark on the history of the town as he is a key figure of the Bulgarian National Revival.
The town was liberated from Ottoman rule in November 1877. After that gradually began transformation of some crafts into new modern productions. Along with the building of the railway line Mezdra-Vratza-Lom in 1913 and its extension to Vidin in 1923 Vratza turned into a modern town. It was a birthplace of Ivan Zambin (the first Bulgarian diplomat in Russia), Dimitar Hadjitoshev (notable political figure, murdered by the Turks) and Ivanaki Yonkov, one of the leaders of the Velchova zavera (Bulgarian rising in 1836), hung by the Turks.
- The Historical museum of Vratza - it has valuable collections from the Neolithic Period, golden Thracian treasures, originals of the Vratza School of goldsmiths etc. Visitors can see customs objects and documentary materials connected with the life and last days of the poet- revolutionary Hristo Botev and his band. The oldest human skeleton found out in Bulgaria can be seen in the museum. The unique exhibit was discovered during excavations near the village of Ohoden in 2004. It is a skeleton of a young woman ritually buried 5800 years B.C in specially built premise.
- The Art gallery has a rich collection of works made by Andrei Nikolov, St. Ivanov, Tzeno Todorov, Ivan Funev etc.
- The National-Revival Ethnographic Complex which includes houses, architectural, ethnographic and historical monuments; the Assumption of the Lord's Church (18th century) and the oldest school in the town - Vaznesensko (Assumption) School (1822).
- The Ethnographic and historical Complex of Nikola Voivodov;
- The Monument Messengers of Freedom - showing a Russian soldier who gave signal of the battle horn on 9th of November 1877 heralding the liberation of the town from the Ottoman rule. This sound can be heard every Sunday. Near the monument there is a high white stone obelisk with the names of the volunteers from Vratza.
- Vratzata (impressive gorge on the Leva River) - it is in the North Slope of the Vrachanska Mountain, 3 km away from Vratza. The deep gorge cut in the limestone rocks impresses with its almost vertical walls ending with sharp peaks reaching at some places up to 200-400 m. The area is good for mountaineers.
- Peak of Okolchitza - located in the Vrachanski Balkan about 20 km south-east of the town. In the beginning of June 1876 on that place died Hristo Botev - the famous revolutionary and poet. It was murdered by the Turk army like most of the other revolutionist in his band. Every year on 2nd of June on this historical place carries out national adoration in honor of Botev and all other revolutionists died for the freedom of Bulgaria.
- Ledenica Cave is located 16 km west of Vratza and it's one of the most interesting caves in Bulgaria. There are several halls with amazing formations - the Antechamber, the Crawling Thing, The Concert Hall (with rock formations like the crocodile, giant's head, the falcon, Santa Claus, the cottage of Granny Yaga, a fairytale witch etc.) and the White Hall. The highest point is called Seventh Heaven and it's accessible only to the most enthusiastic tourists. The cave is lit by electric lights and opened for visits.
- The natural landmark of God's bridge is located about 15 km north of Vratza, 2 km east of the village of Lilyache before reaching the village of Chiren. This is a natural phenomenon in the rock with entrance to the arch of 25 m wide, length of 120-125 m and height of 20 m. That extremely attractive landmark is not very popular but it's definitely a place that should be seen as it's comparable to the Wonder Bridges in the Rhodopi Mountains. Close to it there are remains of an ancient Roman fortress.
The mountains and forests near Vratza are suitable for development of different types of tourism - hunting and fishing, skiing, speleology, delta-gliding, photo-tourism, etc.
Good opportunities exist for exercising different sport activities such as mountaineering, bicycle sport and for those who enjoy being thrilled can go for delta and paraplaner, or set out for carting, buggy and motocross racing tracks.