Archaeological research data shows that Vratsa and the surrounding areas have been populated since 6,000 BC. Agriculture and farming were initially the main source of livelihood for the local population, to be later replaced by pottery and copper mining. Even today archaeologists keep discovering tools, weapons and jewellery made from copper or bronze, probably originating from a mine called Plakalnitsa.
In the 7th and 6th century BC the area of today’s Vratsa saw the tribal community of Triballi settle in. This is supposed to have been their capital. One of the most significant Thracian treasures found in Bulgaria, the treasure of Rogozen, is traced back to that period. It is made up of 165 silver utensils, some of which were also gilded. The main part of the treasure is kept today at Vratsa’s Regional History Museum, and 15 utensils are on display at the Sofia National History Museum. The Triballi dominance over the Vratsa area ended in 28 BC with the Roman expansion in these territories. Vratsa became part of the Roman Empire for about 400 years. In medieval times the town was called Vratitsa. Due to its location at the foot of the West Balkan mountain range, it gained in importance during the Second Bulgarian Empire. During that time the town expanded and turned into a centre of craftsmanship and trade.
Legend has it that under the leadership of Radan Voyvoda, it managed to withstand the attacks of the Ottoman troops thanks to the geography of the area and the solid ramparts of the fortress. Under Ottoman dominance, Vratsa was a garrison and a relay point. In the times of the Bulgarian National Revival, Vratsa grew into a large craftsmanship, trade and administration centre. According to some sources, the locally produced items of homespun tailoring, leather manufacturing and goldsmithery were very much in demand at the markets of Lyon, Vienna, Bucharest and Istanbul. During the April Uprising of 1876, Vratsa was the centre of the Third Insurgency Region led by Stoyan Zaimov. However, the significant number of Ottoman troops concentrated in the area at the time prevented the insurgency from occurring. The liberation of the town from Ottoman dominance took place on 9th November 1877.
After Bulgaria’s liberation in 1878, Vratsa became an important industrial centre: the craft manufacturing grew into industrial production. In 1896, a sericulture testing facility opened doors, to subsequently become the state’s sericulture centre of excellence. The quality of the silk produced in Vratsa was further internationally recognised and so it happened that in 1903, Bulgaria’s first natural silk manufacturing school and silk fabric mill were created. In 1883 local entrepreneur Mito Orozov opened a vehicle factory. The enterprise made carts, cabriolets, phaetons, commercial vehicles and sleighs. In addition, Vratsa and region became famous for their wines. On 30th September 1923, a fire started in a military warehouse and destroyed much of Vratsa. Bombardments during World War II also took their toll. The town is today the administrative and economic centre of the Vratsa community and region.