Traveling to the medieval towns of Vidin, Vratsa, or Belogradchik soon? Real-life city exploration games await there to usher you into the unknown and magnificent historical sites of Northwestern Bulgaria.
Surely you’ve wandered about beautiful cities, wanting to know more about the myths surrounding their history without having to research online. But have you ever wanted to discover the secrets of a place by playing a real-world exploration game?
On the Questo mobile app, gamified tours in the cities of Belogradchik, Vidin, and Vratza now take you down a trip, literally, to reveal pieces of rich history that just need a little bit of unraveling to be appreciated fully.
Weaving together fantasy with real historical accounts, each “quest” tells a mysterious story that needs your problem-solving skills to make it to the end of the tale, and the route.
At the entrance to the city of Belogradchik, we meet the humble wizard Dragomir, who left his powerful family behind many years ago in pursuit of his dreams. Recent news forced him to return in haste as rumors spread of his brother's mad lust for power. Dragomir is afraid of what awaits upon his return to Belogradchik Fortress, but knows only he can talk some sense into his brother. Or face him in a final battle up the famous rocks. You can join Dragomir’s exciting adventure to stop his brother here.
In Vidin, we follow Osman Pazvantoglu, a fearsome medieval Ottoman Ruler who wakes up in modern-day Bulgaria. Confused and lost, he makes his way through the city from his grave, hidden by the Bulgarian Communist Regime behind a residential block, to the edge of the Danube, where his seat of power - the Baba Vida Fortress - still remains. With Osman’s personal stories to accompany you, you unravel his legacy to learn how he shaped the past and future of Vidin, start your journey with Ozman Pazvantoglu right here.
In Vratza, as the final battle for the Bulgarian liberation from the Ottomans rages on, the footsoldier Petak is tasked with making his way to an overlook over Vratza where he can announce victory with his trumpet, for all of Vratza to hear. However, getting to the overlook is no easy task and Petak needs your help, and that of Levski - a Bulgarian national hero - to make it there alive. Jump on your horse and have your trumpet ready to signal the victory, join Petak’s dangerous journey through Vratza here.
Via the app, players can start their walking adventure in search of clues and solve puzzles to unveil the stories of these cities. The games can be played by one person, in pairs, or in larger groups, and even in competition with each other.
How do you play?
The gamified routes offer a multitude of puzzles that transform the cities into living organisms by delving into fragments of their history. Each solution brings you to a new location, and a new mystery to untangle. Finishing a quest usually takes between 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the speed of the players. The routes pass by the most important city sites, while also offering a look at places and stories that might be overlooked by regular tourism. The price per quest is €4.99. The games are currently available in English, but new languages will be added in the future.
What would you see?
‘A High Wizards Legacy’ takes you across the tantalizing Belogradchik fortress via the magnificent Church of St. George the Victorious, and up the famous Belogradchik rocks. You can start this spell-slinging adventure right here.
In ‘Liberation and Enlightenment’ we follow the young soldier Petak on a dangerous trip from the city square, where the ‘Vasil Levski Monument’ is located, to the ‘Herald of Freedom’ statue on the hill, past other famous sites such as the ‘Meschiite Tower’. When you’re ready for this thrilling ride, check it out here. In ‘The Time Travelling Ottoman Ruler’ we look at the modern city of Vidin through the eyes of its medieval ruler Osman Pazvantoglu, who claimed sovereignty over the city, independent of the Ottoman emperor. We visit his love letter to the world - ‘The Mosque of Osman Pazvantoglu’, his throne at the ‘Baba Vida Fortress’, and his neglected grave. Your chance to join this time-traveling journey starts right here.
Early reviews of the quests have been overwhelmingly positive as all the quests are currently rated 5 out of 5 stars on Questo.
What is Questo?
Questo is a platform that collaborates with local storytellers from across the globe to popularize the idea that cities are the biggest playgrounds. The adventures offered on the platform include stories from baroque Netherlands through the memories of the painter Rubens, all the way to the foggy horizons of Victorian London in the welcome company of one Detective Sherlock Holmes.
Studio Handplayed creates the tours in Northwestern Bulgaria in partnership with the mobile app Questo and with the financial support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation.