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Bulgarian crafts

Gabrovo - Ethnographic and architectural complex Etara

Gabrovo is a small town situated on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. For Bulgarians Gabrovo is a special place where everybody likes going to feel the spirit of a typical Bulgarian old town with preserved traditions.

Gabrovo was a crafts center and in the end of 19th century the textile industry in the town flourished. At that time the town was called the “Bulgarian Manchester”.

The Clock Tower and the Baev Bridge still remind of the old times.

Most of the old houses were moved to the ethnographic and architectural complex Etara, representing the Revival Period in Bulgaria.

Ethno village Etara has cobblestone streets and along them many small workshops where visitors can see potters and craftsmen work in the same way as the old craftsmen did 159 years ago.

The oldest building in the ethno complex is the mill that dates from1780 and it is still working.

People in Gabrovo are famous for the jokes that they make and also for being stingy.

The city of Russe

The city of Russe is situated on the bank of the Danube River. It is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria and an important administrative and cultural center. Russe is the most aristocratic city in Bulgaria. It is also called the little Viena because of the old buildings in baroque and neoclassical style. On the Liberty square is situated the monument of Liberty. The statue was made in 1909 by the Italian sculptor Amoldo Zocchi. Otherimpressive buildings are the Courthouse and the Opera and the Regional Museum of History.

The old name of the city of Russe is Sexaginta Prista. The ancient Thracian and Roman settlement and fortress of Sexagina Prista dates back to 3rd century. It is located on a hill in the northwestern part of the city of Russe. Its name means Port of the Sixty Ships. Evidence of the ancient ritual settlement is the collection of pottery items, bronze articles, coins, zoomorphic vessel with eagle’s head. The transportation vessels found there prove that the settlement was a trade center with many docks on the river. It is assumed that in the 1st century A.D. the city was a well-developed port. The port and the fortress had strategic importance for the Roman military base. The Roman Emperor Domitian (85-89 AD)fought against the Thracians Dacians who lived north of the Danube River.

The Apolo temple in Saxaginta Prista is thought to have been demolished at the time when Christianity was adopted. Later on its ruins was built a Roman fortress during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great (306- 337 AD). Barbarian invasions of the Goths destroyed the city in 380 A.D.

Later during the First Bulgarian Kingdom (680-1018) the Bulgarian town was built on the ruins of Saxaginta Prista.

Abritus Archaelogical Reserve – an ancient Roman military base is located 60 km northeast from the city of Russe. It dates back to the 1st century A.D. It was a Thracian settlement and later the Romans turned it in a big urban center of the Roman province and gave the town the name Moesia Inferior. What speaks of the grandeur of the ancient city are the gold treasure, more than 70 monuments with epigrams and a large residence with columns.In the ruins of Abritus was found the biggest gold treasure of 835 coins.

Ivanovo Rock Churches is a medieval church complex, situated 22 km south from Russe. It is a UNESCO world Heritage site. The monastery is situates above the canyon of the Russenski Lom River. The churches are hewn in the rocks.

The murals on the rock walls are scenes from the Bible- “The Last Supper”, The “St. Joan the Baptist” and images of Jesus Christ and many saints.

The Rose valey and the city of Kazanlak

The city of Kazanlak lies in the Rose Valley at the foot of the Balkan Mountains. The roses in the Thracian lands were mentioned by Herodotus as divine.

The city of Kazanlak is famous for the production of rose oil. In the Beginning of 19th century, the rose that was grownin the Rose Valley was called the Kazanlak Damask Rose

The Rose Festival, held the first weekend in June, attracts many tourists to see the Rose Queen contest.

Tourists can try rose rakyia and rose jam – specialties of the region.

The Museum of roses was established in 1984 and presents the cultivation of roses during the Bulgarian Revival Period.

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a beehive tomb that dates back to the 4th century B.C. The tomb is part of a Thracian necropolis used for rituals. The burial chamber is decorated with murals that represent the Thracian burial rituals. The Tomb of Kazanlak is included in the UNESCO World Heritage. A replica of the Kazanlak Tomb was created and opened for the visitors.

The historic town Koprivshta and its coble stone streets and 19th century-style houses

The historic town Koprivshta is a, a town-museum, is situated among the slopes of the Balkan Mountains. With its coble stone streets and 19th century-style houses the town has preserved the atmosphere of the Bulgarian National Revival period.The authentic Bulgarian houses have with high walls and massive wooden gates.The town is an ethnographic, cultural and tourist center. In the museum housesare exposed national costumes, handmade jewelry and crafts, old weaponsThere are seven famous houses museums with murals and indoor salons: the Oslekov House, the museum houses of the poet Dimcho Debelyanov, the writer LyubenKaravelov, and the revolutionaries Todor Kableshkov and Georgi Benkovski, also the Lyutov House and the Palaveev museum houses.

The National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore is held in Koprivshtisa.

Tryavna the crafts center

Like many other Bulgarian towns in the ancient times Tryavna was a Thracian settlement.

The town of Tryavna is situated 250 km from Sofia, on the north slopes of the Balkan Mountains, near the town of Gabrovo. The town flourished and became a crafts center in the 19th centuryand was famous for its wood carving, icon-painting and woolen textile. One of the symbols of the town is the Clock Tower built in 1814.

Tryavna museums of art display the works of the famous Tryavna Art School. In the Daskalov House tourists can see the wood-carved suns on the ceiling, created in 1808. The works of icon-painters can be seen in the Museum of Icons where 160 original icons are displayed. Another museum is the Museum of Wood-carving.

The architectural style of the houses in Tryavna carries the spirit of the Bulgarian National Revival period. The famous museum Slaveykov House reveals facts about the life of Petko Slaveykov and his family.

Another museum house is the Raykov House.

Tryavna Old school is now a school-museum in whichis exhibited a collection of paintings created by Dimitar Kazakov.

The church of Archangel Michael is famous for its wood-carved iconostasis and the wall-paintings. The church was built in the 12th century.

The house of Angel Kanchev displays old weapons, photographs and items from the Revival period of 19th century.

The stone Humpback Bridge was built in 1840. The old bridge in Tryavna is an architectural monument that is famous for its wood-carving.

Another attraction for tourists is the shoemaker’s shop where leader shoes are made.

The only Museum of Asian and African Art on the Balkan Peninsula is in Tryavna. It was opened when the sculptor Zlatko Paunov donated a collection of African, Asian and religious items.

The typical Bulgarian old time atmospheres of the houses and the coble-stone streets, as well as the smell of Turkish coffee make the town a very special place.

The town of Troyan is situated on Beli Osam River

The town of Troyan is situated on Beli Osam River at the foot of the Troyan Mountain, 35 km from the town of Lovech.

Traditional crafts have always been part of the life in this small town. Local workshops offer tourists to sit down behind the pottery wheel and make their own pots.

In the Museum of Traditional Crafts and Applied Arts are displayed local traditional folk costumes with embroideries and woolen lacing. Dress-making and weaving were typical crafts in the town. A traditional wooden loom can be seen in the museum as well as coppersmith’s and silversmith’s works. The carved ceiling of the museum is another art attraction for the visitors.

Inside the museum visitors can feel the atmosphere of the ancient crafts and make their own painted ceramics. Visitors can also dress up in a folk costume and take a photo. Frightening Kukeri costumes are also exposed in the museum.

Kukeri ritual dance is performed to scare the evil spirits. The dance is also a ritual for good harvest and health during the year. The dancers wear decorated wooden masks of faces of animals – beasts and birds. Large heavy bronze or copper bells are attached to the belts of the dancers. The dances are performed at New Year and before Lent. The Kukeri dance is performed during the night and Kukeri visit the houses in the villages to bring happiness. The costumes sometimes take a year to be created because the more frightening they are the better.

Today in the town of Troyan is produced the best massive wood furniture that brings coziness and beauty to Bulgarian houses.

Troyan pots are highly appreciated both by Bulgarians and foreign tourists.

Troyan Monastery is the third biggest monastery in Bulgaria. The church of Troyan Monastery has amazing frescos and carved works.

The National school of Applied Arts in the town of Troyan was established as a Pottery school in 1911 and now it is a modern art school.

Not far from Troyan is located the village of Chflik where most of the hotels offer spa treatment and have outdoor hot mineral pools.