Tsepina (Bulgarian: Цепина) was a castle and town in the western Rhodope mountains, southern Bulgaria, now in ruins. It is 6 kilometres (4 mi) from the Dorkovo village in the north-eastern part of the Chepinska valley. Tsepina is 317 metres (1,040 ft) above sea level.[1]

Pazardzhik Province, Bulgaria
Tsepina Fortress - plan.
Site information
ConditionIn ruins
Site history
EventsByzantine–Bulgarian Wars; Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars

The town was built on a steep height at 1,136 metres (3,727 ft) above sea level. Its outer walls closed an area of 25 decares and was dominated by a citadel at the top of the cliff. The foundations of three churches have been excavated as well as four large water storage tanks up to 10 metres (33 ft) deep.


In the Middle Ages Tsepina was one of the most important Bulgarian fortresses in the Rhodope region. The Bulgarians took the castle in the 9th century but with the end of the First Bulgarian Empire in the beginning of the 11th century the Byzantines conquered it. Tsepina returned under Bulgarian control under Emperor Kaloyan (1197–1207). During the 12th to 14th centuries it grew as an important city and one of the strongest strongholds of the Second Bulgarian Empire. In the early 13th century, it was a seat of despot Alexius Slav. Between 1246 and 1254 it was under Byzantine control but Emperor Michael Asen (1246–1256) managed to retake the fortress. Around 1373 Tsepina was seized by the Turks under the command of Daud Pasha after a bloody nine-month siege[2] but only after the Ottomans cut off the water-conduit.[3] Soon after that it was abandoned by its inhabitants.



  1. ^ Tsepina Altitude and Location
  2. ^ Захариев, Ст. Цит. съч., с. 66
  3. ^ Шишков, Ст. Цит. съч., с. 64

Coordinates: 42°05′06″N 24°07′26″E / 42.085°N 24.124°E / 42.085; 24.124