Gabrovo Print E-mail

World capital of humor and satire

 The town of Gabrovo (67 350 inhabitants, 390 i. altitude) lays in the Northern foots of the Shipka Balkan where the geographical centre of Bulgaria is; it is located along the two banks of the Yantra River.
Its historical start was in the Middle Ages as a strategic settlement near the Balkan passages. The legend says its establisher was Racho Kovacha (Racho the Blacksmith). Thanks to being close to the ancient capital Turnovo and the Balkan passages, in the end of XII century many smithies and armories emerge in the settlement, trade is developed.
The name of Gabruva is known since 1430, and it was in XVII century when it was written Gabrovo. The hornbeam (Gabar in Bulgarian), gave the name of the today town - it was announced such in 1860.
 t was still in the slavery years Gabrovo was already a big crafts and commercial center. In XIX century 26 crafts were to be found there - blacksmithing, cutlery, pottery, braiding, furriery, silk-warm breeding. In 1882 Ivan Kalpazanov built the first textile factory. In the 70's of the XIX century Felix Kaniz calls it "a big workshop" and the people of Gabrovo are proud to say they live in Bulgarian Manchester.
     Bright and ingenious in spirit, in 1835 the Gabrovians open the First Bulgarian non-clerical school - today the Aprilov high school. Generations of teachers and students, followers of the renaissance tradition are proud to bear the name of the donor of the school - Vasil Aprilov.
     During the years of national renaissance Gabrovians did not just produce and make trade, make beautiful Revival houses, churches, bridges, fountains, a clock tower /1835/; they are active participants in the battles for Bulgarian liberty: the rebellion of Captain Dyado Nikola /1856/, the Turnovo rebellion of 1862, the detachments of Hadzhi Dimitar and Stefan Karadzha /1868/, of Tsanko Dustabanov /1876/. Nikola Voynovski was the army leader of the Botev detachment. In the year 1868, Vassil Levski established a committee here. Gabrovo is the birthplace of the leaders of Bulgarian National Revival Vassil Aprilov, Tsanko Dustabanov, Father Hariton, the composer Emanuil Manolov, etc.
     Gabrovians are thrifty and ingenious; they utilized cleverly the power of water to be the driving force of the workshops mechanisms two centuries ago. The authentic life of those times is displayed in the only open-air museum working in Bulgaria - the Architectural - ethnographic complex Etara (tel.: 066/ 801 831, working hours: every day - winter: 9.00 - 16.30; summer: 8.30 - 18.00) 8 km South of the town.
     The cobble-stoned street has the flavor of worm bun, coffee and white sweet. Colored rugs shine over the balconies bearing the colors of the earth - green, blue, red and white. The stone fountains, the gas lamps, the clock tower, the white-wall houses and the taverns are authentic. For tourists, this is both an idyllic look back to the past and a new knowledge. The idea of the Etara belongs to architect Lazar Donkov - a patriot who devoted his life to the noble lifework.
     The Gabrovian is calculating and has a great sense of humor. He collects in a booklet the anecdotes the people tell about him and he sells them to the world. The town has been recognized a capital of humor and jokes for its skill to make irony and to laugh at the ugliness. On 64, Bryanska St., (tel. 066/ 807 228, 809 300 working hours: 9.00 - 18.00, no days off in the summer, winter day off - Sunday) is the Funny House - The House of Humor and Satire. On an area of 8000 square meters, masterpieces of laughter from 153 countries are exhibited.
     In May the big cultural festivities of Gabrovo are held, the traditional carnival, and a biennial of humor and satire. 
The historical memory of the town is preserved in the exhibition of the Town historical museum (tel.: 066/ 805 218, working hours: 9.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 17.00, days off in winter - Saturday and Sunday, in summer - Sunday, Monday)
Dechkov house is demonstrating the town's lifestyle and a house interior of from the XIX-century.
     One can see The National Museum of Education and the Aprilov high school where a lot of famous Bulgarians studied /Aleko Konstantinov, Emanuil Manolov/. The Bayov Bridge, built in 1855, The Assumption Church - 1865, and the clock tower /1835/ are masterpieces of Bulgarian Revival architecture, woodcarving and icon painting. It is interesting to see the cobblestone Opalchenska Street and the ancient commercial Radetska Street.
     The symbol of Gabrovo is the monument of Racho Kovacha - the legendary founder of the town. Because of their proverbial thriftiness, gabrovians put it on a rock in the river…
     There is an Observatory (tel.: 808 234, working hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 - 17.30 after a pre-request) and a zoo in the direction of the Gradiste locality, 3 km from Gabrovo. From there one can admire the panorama view over the town and see the remains of the Early Byzantine Fortress Gradishte.
     The Uzana locality is a mountain resort situated at the largest meadow of Stara planina. The region is attractive in winter with its ski-runs lifts and motor sleighs; and in summer - with meadows of flowers and berries. There is also the geographic centre of Bulgaria marked with special sign.
     Twenty-two km from Gabrovo is the historical Shipka peak with the Freedom monument. To the East is the Buzludzha peak that entered Bulgarian history with the heroism of Hadzhi Dimitar to whom Hristo Botev wrote a poem.
     The Sokolski Monastery "The Assumption" was created with donations in 1833 about 12 km from the center of Gabrovo. In the years of slavery the holy temple gave shelter to the Apostle Vassil Levski, the detachment of Captain Dyado Nikola; a detachment of 220 rebels lead by Tsanko Dustabanov started there its way to eternity; during the Liberation war its was turned to a hospital. A humble museum collection keeps evidences of the disobedient and thirsty for knowledge spirit of the local people.
The Monastery was built on a vertical wall, there is an eight-wall stone fountain made by Kolyo Ficheto that still slakes the thirst of passengers. The church is an amazing creation of the church revival architecture and icon painting.
      Fifteen kilometers from Gabrovo is the Bozhentsi Architectural and Historical Reserve (tel.: 066/ 804 462). The village offers possibilities for recreation in a preserved atmosphere of the past. The recreation places are houses restored from the XVIII and XIX centuries that have kept their comfort and charm - wooden balconies, fireplaces still adapted to the modern requirements.
Bozhentsi is a village of centenary history - more than 600 years. Its origin is the legend about the boyar woman Bozhana who took her sons and brothers out of the ashes of the burnt capital Tyrnovgrad 6 centuries ago. They came amidst the hundred-year-old forests and built a village that still bears her name.
      Out of the old rich village with more than 1000 houses and inhabitants - merchants, traveling around the world - today only a few local people live and the unique 100 houses aged about 200 years. In 1964 the village is announced an architectural - historical reserve. and its few inhabitants keep it alive devotedly.     

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