Vratsa (also transliterated as Vraca or Vratza, in some languages with a W; Враца) is a city in northwestern Bulgaria, at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains. It is the administrative centre of Vratsa Province.
The city of Vratsa is a commercial and crafts centre and a railway junction. Vratsa accommodates textile, metal processing, chemical, and ceramics industries. It was an important administrative and garrison city under Ottoman rule (15th–19th century).
City of Vratsa is one of the most picturesque cities in the Country. It is nestled in the foothills of "Vrachanski Balkan" (Vratsa Mountain), with the Leva River calmly crossing the city, enormous and fearful rocks overhanging the roofs. The city is only 116 km far from the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
The area has diverse and attractive natural features, which together with the opportunities of recreation gives a special charm of the Eastern part of the Northwest Bulgaria. Several protected natural attractions and historical monuments are located on the territory of the Vratsa State Forestry.
In the 7th century, the Bulgarians and the Slavs found the Bulgarian State and the Slavic Vratsa became part of it. The city grew into important strategic location because of its proximity to the South State border. The name of the city was changed from Valve to the Slavic Vratitsa, which has the same meaning and is the source of the modern name. Vratsa became famous for its goldsmith's and silversmith's production and trade, high-quality earthenware and military significance.
In the 8th century, the Bulgarian army captured Sofia, which led to the decreasing of Vratsa's importance because of the better strategic position of Sofia, its more developed economy and larger size. But Vratsa was again key for the resistance against the Byzantine, Serbian and Magyar invasions in the Middle Ages.
Good opportunities exist for exercising different sport activities such as mountaineering, bicycle sport and for those who enjoy being thrilled can go for hanggliding and paragliding, or set out for carting, buggy and motocross racing tracks.
Conditions are provided for rest and entertainment — children's and adults' swimming pools, water cycles, discos, bars, restaurants, excellent hotel facilities and good service. If you are a fervent admirer of winter sports you will be glad to hear that the rope lines near the Parshevitsa Chalet are working, and the skiing tracks are well maintained.
There exist a Museum of History and an Ethnographic and Revival Complex.