ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL FORTRESS VILLAGE “BOŽENIČKI URVIČ” BOŽENICA, MUNICIPALITY OF BOTEVGRAD
The fortress "Boženiški urvič" became famous in scientific circles in the winter of 1918-1919, when the century-old maple, collapsing under the pressure of time, discovered a unique medieval epigraphic monument, which was read and published by Professor Petar Mutafčijev in the following years. He called it "Wall inscription of Sevasto Ognjan". Its copies are in the National History Museum - Sofia and the History Museum - Botevgrad. According to estimates, it is directly related to the last days of the Second Bulgarian Empire and reads: "I Dragomir wrote. I, Sevast Ognjan, was with Emperor Shishman Kefali and I suffered a lot of evil. " At that time, the Turks were at war. I maintained the faith of Emperor Shishman. The medieval fortress "Boženički Urvič" is located on the northern slopes of Lakaviški hill from the Fore-Balkans, 3 km. south of the village of Bozhenitsa, Botevgrad municipality.It is located at the top, in the shape of a truncated cone and with steep, almost vertical slopes on three sides at a range of 750 m. The fortress is accessible only from the north, from the village of Boženica, and in the local toponymy it is known as Gradište. The memory of antiquity is preserved in many legends and traditions. Archaeological excavations conducted in the 70s and 80s of the twentieth century reveal that the place was inhabited in prehistory - the IV millennium BC. The earliest fortifications - the two outer walls of the fortress date from the V-VI century, are dated by coins of the Byzantine emperors Justin (518 - 527) and Justinian (527 - 565). At that time, the fortified place was an important part of the early Byzantine defense system for deterring barbarian invasions south of the Danube. The fortress reached its heyday in the XIII-XIV century, when the farthest wall of the fortress from the north was built. In this way, this side received protection consisting of three parallel belts, which connect in the western direction. The wall of the fortress is exposed only on the north side of the peak. It starts with a rectangular tower in the west and ends with a round tower in the east. Next to it is probably an entrance that has not been fully explored. The wall and towers keep the most accessible place on the hill. The south side of the fortress is naturally protected. It is built of transparent cliffs, between which are wedge-shaped wooden platforms used for observatories. The total area of the fortification is 1600 square meters, and the outer wall reaches a height of up to six meters. The inner wall of the fortress is 200 meters long, and in some places almost three meters wide. Like most Stara Planina fortresses, this one was built on a high, naturally protected place. From the inner camp of the north wall, several rooms related to the defense of the fortress were discovered, which have not been studied. From the south, along the edge of the vertical slope, additional fortifications are formed - the battlefield - the tower. Immediately below them are a single-nave, single-apse church and necropolis, dating to the second half of the 14th century. During its construction, three construction periods were established: the early building of the basilica from the 5th-6th century; a representative church from the 12th-14th century, and after the conquest of the fortress at the end of the 14th century, a small cemetery chapel with frescoes was built in the southern part of the nave. East of the entrance to the fortified area is a complex of cult rocks, including the aforementioned inscription on the rock, a rock church and carvings of various sizes. North of the citadel, on the sloping, accessible slope of the hill, is probably the suburb of the fortress. During excavations in the mid-1980s, a treasure of 1327 silver coins of Emperor Ivan Šišman (1371-1395) was discovered. There is a lot of material acquired during the research, most of which is kept in the Historical Museum-Botevgrad. However, this fortress is not architecturally interesting. His place in historical science is significant. Special attention is paid to the inscription. And not by accident. The limited number of sources that have come down to us from the time of the Turkish invasion of the Bulgarian lands, the scarcity and inconsistency of the data they contain determine its high historical value. According to researchers, claims about the time of its cutting are different, because the dating varies from 1375 to the first years of the 15th century. The field is the wrong size, and the letters vary from 0.20 m to 0.08 m. It is no coincidence that the font size is different. The impending Ottoman threat was the reason for the organization of the defense of the fortress, as well as quickly, the last efforts to leave a written message about the national tragedy for generations. When interpreting the issue of the inscription, there is also a thesis that due to especially great military merits, the mullet Ognjan was awarded and proclaimed Sevastopol, since he was appointed the governor of the Sofia region. On the other hand, the inscription Boženica continues the tradition from the time of the First Bulgarian State - important events and political affairs were written on stone. One thing is for sure, the meaning of the inscription from "Boženički Urvič" is not only local. Scientists are unanimous: "With its exclusivity, both archaeological and historical, as well as philological significance, the inscription of the Goddess Sevast Ognjan enriches the" stone archive "of medieval Bulgaria. It occupies an important place in the national Bulgarian cultural history.The city and the inscription were declared national antiquities in 1927, and later, in 1966, as archeological cultural monuments with the category of national significance. 2013 immovable cultural value is subject to conservation within the project for recreational tourism within the Operational Program Regional Development 2007-2013.