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A plot of land with area of 44 472 sq.m in a complex of two golf courses in progress near Haskovo city. PRICE: 12 EUR per sq.m
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Southeastern Bulgaria
Aitos
The town of Aitos (population: 25 057; 100 m above sea level) is situated on both banks of the Aitos river, in the Aitos field, in the southern foot of the Eastern Balkan Mountain (Aitos Mountain).
Elhovo
The town of Elhovo (population: 13 629; 130 m above sea level) is situated on the left bank of the Toundzha River in the fertile field.
Karnobat
The town of Karnobat (population: 22 000; 220 m above sea level) is situated in the Karnobat Plain, in the northeastern part of Gornotrakiyska (Upper Thracian) Plain.
Kotel
The town of Kotel (population: 7433; 527 m above sea level) is situated in a picturesque small valley (kotlovina - that is where its name derives from) in the Kotel Balkan (Eastern Stara Planina Mountain).
Malko Turnovo
The town of Malko Turnovo (population: 3 527; about 340 m above sea level) is the only town in the Bulgarian part of Strandzha Mountain.
Sliven
The town of Sliven (population: 100 695; 270 m above sea level) is situated in the eastern part of the Upper Thracian Plain at the foothills of the Sliven Balkan (Eastern Balkan Mountains).
Svilengrad
The town of Svilengrad (population: 19 416; 55 m above sea level) is situated on the hanks of the Maritsa River, in the immediate proximity to the touching point of three state boundaries, namely Bulgarian-Greek, Bulgarian-Turkish and Greek-Turkish.
Yambol
The town of Yambol (population: 82 924,135 m above sea level) is situated in the eastern part of the Gornotrakiiska (Upper Thracian) Plain, on the banks of the Toundzha River, shortly after the river curved to the south.

Svilengrad (top)
Intro:
The town of Svilengrad (population: 19 416; 55 m above sea level) is situated on the hanks of the Maritsa River, in the immediate proximity to the touching point of three state boundaries, namely Bulgarian-Greek, Bulgarian-Turkish and Greek-Turkish.

Full text:
It is about 70 km 150 km, and 300 km south-east of Haskovo, Plovdiv, and Sofia respectively, 2 km north of the boundary with Greece, and 14 km north-west to the boundary with Turkey 30 km and 265 km north-west of Odrin(Edirne) and Istanbul, respectively. It is one of the gates to Bulgaria.

History. There is information about an initial Thracian settlement, and consequently a Roman one, which was later transformed into an important Roman fortress called Bourdenis guarding the military road to Tzarigrad. In 1205 on the same territory, Tzar Kaloyan inflicted the first serious defeat on the Crusaders lead by Emperor Baldwin; that was one of the greatest battles in medieval Bulgarian history. At the time of imposing the Ottoman Rule, the settlement of Kinekh was situated there. The present town was formed in 15th century beside a ford on the Maritsa River Actually the town expanded around the famous Moustafa Pasha Bridge built in 1529. It is 300 m long, 6 m wide and has 20 arches. There is a slab stone with an inscription stating the years of construction, which the generations assessed as "an eternal useful deed". The bridge is considered to be one of the best representatives of this epoch in Southeastern Europe. In the middle of 17th century the town had more than 700 houses and a kervan-sarai (stable for the horses of travelling tradesmen) for 700 horses. Apart from its strategic location (on the way to Tsarigrad and the bridge over Maritsa), the town was famous as a big silkworm breeding centre. The follicles called "Odrin type’’ were particularly evaluated in Europe, however the main market was Turkey. The town was famous for its renowned charshiya (market street) - workshops and inns. A secular school was built in 1847, where Ivan Vazov was later a teacher (1872-1873). In 1870, the Zvezda (Star) Communal Cultural centre was opened. In 1874 Peter Stanchev, a teacher from Turnovo, proposed the name of Svilengrad for the town ("svila" - silk, "grad" - town), and the Bulgarians accepted this idea, however it was implemented during the Balkan War (1912). G S Rakovski, Petko. R. Slaveikov, Hr. G. Danov would often travel through the town on their way to or back from Tzarigrad. In 1871, Levski set up a secret revolutionary committee. On 7th January, 1878 the Russian armies entered, however after the signing of the Berlin Treaty the town was left in the territory of Turkey. During the Balkan War, a military airport was equipped near Svilengrad. For the first time in world history, an army (the Bulgarian army) used aeroplanes for military purposes. The town was finally liberated during the Inter-Allies War (1913). At the time of liberation the town's ethnic composition was entirely changed, the inhabitants were predominantly Bulgarians, refugees from the areas still under yoke. Landmarks. The Moustafa Pasha Bridge (see above).

Accommodation: Svilena Hotel (Svilena Sq., in the town centre). Ekaterina Sevova Hotel (20 Hristo Shishmanov Street). Milena Hotel (8, Preobrazhenska Street). Chekichev Hotel (9, V. Levski Street). The catering and entertainment opportunities continuously expand.

Tourist Information - at the hotels and the Sakar Tourist Association (5, Septemvriiska Street.

Transport. The international roads and the railway line from Europe to the Middle East and Asia cross the town. There are bus lines to Plovdiv, Haskovo, Harmanli, Elhovo, etc. All buses heading for Turkey go through the town, so the latter is practically connected to all points of the country by bus. The bus station is located at 19, Tsar Simeon Veliki Street in the eastern part of the town (tel.: 0379 3466, 2883, working hours: 6.30 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.). The railway station is in the Novo Selo Quarter, 3 km away from the centre. The town is connected with the national railway system as well as with that of Turkey by means of the international railway line.

Surrounding areas. There are numerous Thracian mounds 7 km south-west, in the lands of the village of Mezek. The Maltepe Mound (treasure mound) is a Mikena type (4th century BC) and it is situated 1 km south-west of the village. It recovered a Thracian domed tomb - Mezekska Tomb of remarkable architecture as well as other archaeological finds. Just above the village are the remains of the Mezek Neutzikon Fortress (11th-12th century) having the shape of an irregular polygon. It is one of the best-preserved fortresses in the country. There is a regular bus line to the village of Mezek. Some 30 km northeast, near the villages of Matochina and Mihalich is the famous tower (12th -13th centuries) and the rock churches (10th century). There is a regular bus line available. The border Kapitan Andreevo Checkpoint (on Bulgarian territory, tel.: 0379 7448, 7346) and Kapukoule (on Turkish territory) are situated 14 km southeast on the international road to Istanbul. There is a regular bus line.

Elhovo (top)
Intro:
The town of Elhovo (population: 13 629; 130 m above sea level) is situated on the left bank of the Toundzha River in the fertile field.

Full text:
It is 339 km south-east of Sofia, 60 km and 37 km south of Sliven and Yambol, respectively, 30 km north-east of Topolovgrad, 94 km and 66 km south-west of Bourgas and Sredets, respectively.

History. A Thracian settlement called Orouditsa existed at the place of the present town. The Roman conquered it, fortified it and gave it the name of Orouditsa ad Bougoum. Later the Byzantine called it Malso Kastra (fortified settlement) until the arrival of the Slavs who gave it the melodious name of Yanitsa, which consequently changed into Enina.
In the years of Ottoman Rule, the town was an agricultural, crafts, and administrative centre. In 17th century, it had a market street with more than 40 workshops. However, the town became depopulated after several epidemics, the devastating kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) raids, and the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878). A great part of the population moved to Dobroudzha, Bessarabia and Russia. At the time of the Liberation, one could count 100 houses and 900 inhabitants. In 1934, the town was renamed to Elhovo.

Landmarks. The Town Museum (4, Shipka Street) possesses one of the richest ethnographic expositions in the country. Of special interest are the collections of folk crafts samples and costumes of Bulgarians immigrants from Aegean Thrace, Lozengrad region and Odrin region.

Accommodation: The Puldin Hotel (in the town centre, 9A, Kroum Street). Tourist Information - at the hotel or at Rodni Prostori Tourist Association (5, Turgovska Street, tel.: 0478 2040).

Transport. Buses and trains. There are regular bus lines to Sliven, Yambol, Bourgas, Qredets Topolovgrad, Svilengrad, and other smaller villages and towns in the district. Elhovo is the last railway station on the railway line Yambol-Elhovo connecting the town with the national railway system.

Surrounding areas. Colchis pheasants are breeded in the area of Papazova Koria, 5 km north of the town. Visitors can see the birds. There is a regular bus.

Yambol (top)
Intro:
The town of Yambol (population: 82 924,135 m above sea level) is situated in the eastern part of the Gornotrakiiska (Upper Thracian) Plain, on the banks of the Toundzha River, shortly after the river curved to the south.

Full text:
It is 37 km north of Elhovo, 106 km west of Bourgas, 28 km south-east of Sliven, 304 km east of Sofia. One of the oldest Bulgarian towns. A regional administrative centre, as well.

History. The earliest traces of communal life were discovered in the dozens of prehistoric dwelling mounds. The so-called Rasheva and Marcheva Mounds are located on the territory of the present day town. These two date back to the Neolith, Eneolith and Bronze Epoch. Some of the finds recovered there are kept in the Parisian Louvre, the Archaeological Museum in Sofia, and mostly in the Museum of History in Yambol. The ancient town sprang up as a Thracian settlement called Kabile (some 10 km north-west of the town, near a village of the same name) at an important crossroad; later it became a significant fortress in the state of Philip of Macedonia. During the Roman domination, the town reached its prime when people started minting coins. On his way through the town in 293, Emperor Diokletian gave it the name of Diospolis (God's town). It existed until 378 when the Goths destroyed it. The first written information dates back to 6th century. Since 11th-14th centuries, it was mentioned as a Bulgarian town having different names - Diospolis, Dianopolis, Diampolis, Yampolis, Dublin, Dublino, Douboulino, and the Byzantine authors mentioned it as Dimpolis, Diampolis, Hiampolis. The town was mentioned with the name of Dubilin in an inscription of 1357 (the reign of Tzar Ivan Alexander). At the time, it was situated on the border between Bulgaria and Byzantium, and nearby was the famous entrenchment Erkesiata. Some of the impressive fortress walls and turrets of medieval Yambol are still preserved. The town was among the first in the Balkans to resist the Ottomans. It was conquered in 1373 after a long siege. During the Ottoman Rule, many Turks settled to live around Hissarluka, and after the Russian-Turkish War in 1829, many Bulgarians from the town and the vicinity immigrated to Russia. The haidouts (armed volunteers, leaders or members of detachments) Georgi Garabdchi, Boudak Stoyan, Kara Dobri, Dyado Zhelyo and others based in countryside of the town, took part in the battles for liberation. The town is a native place of the revolutionaries Georgi Drazhev, Radi Kolessov, Zakhari Velichkov, etc. The Oriental town carried out active with agricultural products, silkworms, homespun material, predominantly with Odrin and Tsarigrad. The so-called Salty Road from Anhialo to Plovdiv passed through the town. The Russian armies liberated it in January 1878. In memory of this act, people built and inaugurated the St. Alexander Nevski Temple - the first monument of the Bulgarian-Russian friendship in Bulgaria. It was erected in the Bakadzhitsite area southeast of the town. In the first half of 2nd century, Yambol was known for its curative mineral water, unique rail tram tugged by horses, pheasant breeders, and huge hangar for zeppelins of 1917. John Atanassov, the inventor of computers, had kinship in Yambol, and it was a native place of Peter Noikov - the first professor in pedagogic, Atanas Radev - elite mathematician, Georgi Papazov and Ivan Popov - world famous painters, Kiril Krustev - Bulgarian of encyclopedic knowledge, Stiliana Paraskevova who embroidered the prototype of Bulgarian national flag.

Landmarks. St. Georgi Church (45, St. Georgi Street) dates back to 1737 and it was the centre of cultural and religious life, as well as of the national struggle for liberation of the church in Yambol. A monastery school was opened in 1805 and in 1857 a class school where Dobri Chintoulov was a teacher in the period between 1857 and 1862. From 1866 onward, the liturgies were carried in Bulgarian only. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, the church was entirely burnt down, and in 1882 restored again. There is a beautiful iconostasis there. The Bezisten of Yambol (Osvobozhdenie Sq.) is one of the most interesting and well preserved architectural monuments in Bulgaria from the second half of 15th century. It is a covered market. In 1970-1973, it was restored and reorganised as a souvenir palace. The Town Museum of History (2, Byalo More Street, working hours: 8.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays - days off with the exception for visitors with reservations). There are more than 100 000 exhibits there. The Georgi Papazov Art Gallery (2, Tzar Samuil Street, working hours: 9.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays - days off with the exception for visitors with reservations). Housed in an interesting antique building it is one of the richest galleries in the country. It possesses more than 3 000 works of dozens of outstanding Bulgarian and foreign painters. Its most valuable treasure is the collection of decorative works that make the gallery rank first in Bulgaria and well known abroad. The Astronomic Observatory and planetarium situated on 12, Tzar Ivan Alexandar Street. There are two theatre halls in Yambol - Theatre of Drama (18, G.S. Rakovski Street) and Muppet Theatre (1, Georgi Papazov Street). The town park (an island in the Toundzha River) and the hill of Borovets are nice places for recreation within the territory of the town.

Accommodation: The Toundzha Hotel Complex (2-star, 13, Bouzloudzha Street, 1- and 2-bed rooms and suites, restaurant and a lobby bar). The Borovets Hotel Complex (3-star, 100, Borovets Street, 2-bed rooms and suites, restaurant, night bar). There are plenty of catering establishments in the town offering nice Bulgarian cuisine and entertainment.

Tourist Information - at the hotels and at the Kabile Tourist Association (31, S. Karadzha Street, tel.: 034 22670).

Transport. Yambol is connected to the country and the world by bus and railway transport. There are bus lines to Sliven, Nova Zagora, Elhovo, Sredets, etc. The bus station is situated near the market place (Turgovska Street, tel.: 046 23654, 24417, 23885). The town is a point on the railway line Sofia -Plovdiv - Bourgas, and there the extension to Elhovo forks. The railway station is in the western part (1, Zheleznicharska Street, tel.: 046 22626, 22254). There is a railway bureau for reservations in the town (tel.: 046 22121). The town has developed a well-arranged public bus transport.

Surrounding areas. The Kabile National Archaeology Reserve - situated 6 km north of the town. It preserves the ruins of the most significant antique Thracian town of Kabile. This economic, political and cultural centre of Ancient Thrace has been investigated for more than 25 years. The remains are impressive. There is an archaeological museum as well. Working hours: summer time 8.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m., wintertime -10.00a.m. - 4.00 p.m. A bus runs from Yambol to the museum 9 times a day. The St. Spas Monastery with the Alexander Nevski Temple-Monument - 14 km southeast of Yambol. The idea of its construction was suggested by General Skobelev and implemented with the help of the voluntary donations from Bulgaria and Russia. Skobelev granted a huge cross and a Testament, which are preserved to these days. The list with the names of about 900 Russians and Bulgarians who died in the struggle for the Liberation of Bulgaria is preserved, too. It was most solemnly inaugurated in September 1884. The church hosts of a big collection of icons, old printed books, and church plate most of them made in Kiev-Pechor Monastery. The iconostasis was made there, too, and was installed in the temple in parts. There is a bus running from Yambol to the temple three times a day - at 7.00 a.m., at 1.00 p.m., at 4.00 p.m. The interesting historical sight called Erkesiata (trench) is situated in the area called Bakudzhitsite, at the foot of the most eastern peak. It is a part of the biggest fortification on the Bulgarian territory from 7th-11th centuries (131 km long); it guarded the Bulgarian State from the raids of Byzantium from the south. The plains of Bakadzhitsite are a wonderful sight for tourism because of the deciduous woods, historical sights, the closeness of the town and the available accommodation facilities, including the Drouzhba Chalet offering 74 beds (tel.: 046 24151). It is the point of departure for a number of marked tracks to various sights. It is 16 km away from Yambol along an asphalt road.

Sliven (top)
Intro:
The town of Sliven (population: 100 695; 270 m above sea level) is situated in the eastern part of the Upper Thracian Plain at the foothills of the Sliven Balkan (Eastern Balkan Mountains).

Full text:
It is 279 km east of Sofia, 28 km north-west of Yambol, 70 km north-east of Stara Zagora, 75 km east of Kazanlak, 114 km west of Bourgas. "The town of the 100 Voivodi" ("voivoda" - leader of a detachment of armed revolutionaries). It is a re¬gional administrative centre.

History. Most probably, the name derives from the location of the town, i.e. fusion of the field, the mountain and the three rivers of Assenovska, Selishka and Novosselska ("slivam" - to fuse). The town sprang up in the period 7th -11th centuries by a the old military road from the Danube through the Vratnik Pass (Zhelezni Vrata - Iron Gates) in the Balkan mountains to Tsarigrad. Idrissi, Arabian geographer, was the first to give information about the town in 1153 calling it Istilifounos. Later, it became known with as Silimno, Slivno. In 1388, the town was conquered by the Turks and destroyed. Father Paisii mentioned it in his "Istoria Slavyanobulgarska" (Slavonic and Bulgarian History) (18th century) already as Sliven. During the first decades of the Ottoman Rule Sliven enjoyed privileges as a ettlement of people breeding falcons and people guarding mountain passes. Gradually the town became an important craft centre, growing further in size and wellbeing. It gained popularity for the weaving of the woollen cloth called 'kebe'. In 1828 there were about 20 000 inhabitants. Sliven was liberated in 1828 in the Russian-Turkish War. When the Russian soldiers withdrew, more than 15 000 Bulgarians left with them and settled to live in Romania, Bessarabia and South Russia. In 1872 the population of the town numbered 25 000 inhabitants. Sliven grew as town of crafts and trade, making use of the waterpower of the rivers. The craft of manufacturing aba (homespun coarse wollen cloth and upper men's garment made of it) was best developed. Up to 400 traders would annually visit the town to buy thousands of meters of woollen cloth. The craft of rifle making came second in importance. In 1836 the first woollen textile factory in Bulgaria was built in Sliven, that of Dobri Zhelyazkov the Factory Owner. It was three-storied, with 20 spinning machines, 6 mechanical looms and 500 workers. Its big stone buildings are still preserved. Traders from Turkey, Poland and Hungary would come to the annual fair in Sliven. It rivalled the fair in Uzoundzhovo. In the Revival Period Sliven became famous as "the town of the 100 voivodi": Indzhe. Zlati, Kara Subi, Radoi, Hristo, Konda - a woman leader, Hadzhi Dimitur, Panayot Hitov, Tenyu Voivoda and many other. Georgi Ikonomov, one of the apostles of the April Uprising was born in the town. Sliven is the birthplace of Sava Dobroplodni, Dr. Ivan Seliminski, Dobri Chintoulov. After the Liberation, the crafts suffered decay, while the textile industry continued to develop and shape the economic face of the town.

Landmarks. The Town Museum of History (18, Tsar Osvoboditel Street) the Museum of Revival Arts (13, Tsar Osvoboditel Street) - a permanent exposition of works of Revival Period painters as Dimitur Dobrevich, D. Danchov, N. Pavlovich, as well as painters from the first decades after Liberation - Ivan Mrkvichka, Anton Mitov, Ivan Angelov, Yordan Kyuvliev, etc. Hadzhi Dimitur House-Museum (Assenova Street) is situated in the southwestern part of the town (the former Kloutsohor Quarter) and comprises a complex of several buildings restored in different periods - the native home with its interior, the inn and some of the farmhouses. The 19th Century Sliven Lifestyle House-Museum (5, Simeon Tabakov Street, tel.: 044 23149) is located in a uilding of 1813 having a very interesting rchitecture. Dimitur Dobrevich Art Gallery and Exposition (10, Jivkovitch Street, tel.: 044 22796, 23395, 26643) in Mirkovich's house. Dobri Chintoulov House-Museum (5, Vuzrozhdenska Street, tel.: 044 22494, 25198). Modern Bulgarian art is displayed in the permanent exposition of the painter Sirak Skitnik (2, Tsar Simeon Street, tel.: 044 25342). The monument to Hadzhi Dimitur was built in 1935 in the centre of the town. The figure of the legendary leader stands on a rectangular column. At the foot of the monument, in special niches one can see the busts of outstanding people from Sliven from the period of Revival. The Stariyat bryast (The old elm-tree) (600 years old) can be seen in the centre of Sliven. One can also visit about ten Christian temples. There are two theatre halls in the town - Stefan Kirov Theatre of Drama in the town centre, and a State Muppet Theatre (10, Tsar Osvoboditel Street, tel.: 044 25186, 22718).

Accommodation: The Dinamo Hotel Complex (3-star, 1, Sofiisko Shosse Street). The Sliven Hotel (2, Hadzhi Dimitur Street). Oasis Hotel Complex (in the Mollova Koria area). The Shapo Alpia Hotel (in the Sinite Kamani (Blue Stones) Park, near the initial lift station to Karandila). The Vector & Sie Hotel (7, Hadzhi Dimitur Street). The Spectur Hotel (119, Panayot Hitov Street). The Start Hotel (area of Mollova Koria, the last stop of bus line No. 12, tel.: 044 88461). The Shaklian Hotel (39, G. S. Rakovski Street). Most of the hotels have restaurants and other entertainment establishments.

Tourist Information - at the hotels and at the Sinite Kamuni Tourist Association (13A, Velikoknyazheska Street, tel.: 044 29361, 22431, 22432).

Transport. Buss and railway transport. There are regular bus lines to Yambol, Nova Zagora, Karnobat, Aitos, Bourgas, Elena, Veliko Turnovo and many other smaller villages and towns in the district. The bus station (2, Hadzhi Dimitur Street) and the railway station (Dame Grouev Quarter) are situated in the southern part of the town not far from each other. The town is a major railway station on the main railway line Sofia - Karlovo - Bourgas. There is well-arranged bus and trolley transport in Sliven. Near the road to Kotel and Karandila, in the northeastern end of Sliven is the initial open-seat lift station (tel.: 044 83834) in the direction to the area of Karandila. The lift brings all volunteers to roam Sliven Balkan Mountain up to more than 600 m variation in altitude for about 20 min. There is a town bus line from the town centre to the initial lift station

Surrounding areas. The area of Karandila situated northeast of the town, among the century old forests of the Sliven Balkan Mountain. Here one can visit the Sinite Kamuni Nature Park (with extremely interesting rock formations like Halkata - the Ring, etc.), the Karandila Tourist House (950 m above sea level, offering 180 beds, restaurant, coffee-bar, bar, etc. There is a 32-km long asphalt road to the town. The Karandila Chalet (970 m above sea level, 24 beds, 500 m away from the Tourist House). The area offers excellent opportunities for rest, sports and tourism; there is a ski run with two ski-taglines, a football playground of Olympic size, a lake with boats, classified rock sites for mountaineering and sports climbing. This is the point of departure for a number of marked tourist tracks round the Sliven Balkan Mountain (See the Stara Planina Mountain related chapter herein). There is no regular transport with the exception of the above-mentioned open-seat lift. The Mineral Baths of Sliven (also called Dzhinkovski) - situated 12 km south-west of Sliven at the village of Zlati Voivoda (former Dzhinovo), near the road to Nova Zagora. A completely balneological resort has sprung up near the mineral springs (44°-45°C and output rate of 16 liters per second). People use the water to cure diseases of the spine and bone-system, the peripheral nerve system, stomach, intestines, liver and gall bladder, etc. Apart from the sanatorium and the other medical establishments, there are two hotels, the Central Hotel and Zhiva Voda (Water bringing back to life) Hotel. There are regular bus lines to Sliven and Nova Zagora. Aglikina Polyana (the Meadow of Aglika) - 38 km north-west of Sliven, in the Elena Balkan Mountain, situated immediately next to the Vratnik Pass. A historical area that entered the Bulgarian national history as the most popular gathering place of the haidouts (armed revolutionaries). It is a large meadow (80 m wide, and 200 m long) surrounded by venerable oak-trees and beach trees. A memorable inscription was carved in a big natural stone slab. It is a point on the route from Mt. Kom to the cape of Emine along the ridge of the Balkan Mountain. There is no regular transport. An asphalt path leads from the marking booth at the Vratnik Pass to the meadow itself.

Kotel (top)
Intro:
The town of Kotel (population: 7433; 527 m above sea level) is situated in a picturesque small valley (kotlovina - that is where its name derives from) in the Kotel Balkan (Eastern Stara Planina Mountain).

Full text:
It is 328 km east of Sofia, 49 km northeast of Sliven, 38 km and 62 km south of Omourtag and Turgovishte, respectively. An old town from the Revival Period.

History. At the beginning of the Ottoman Rule Kotel was inhabited by Bulgarians from the adjacent towns and villages in search of rescue. A Turkish register of 1486 contains the earliest information about the town. During the first centuries of the foreign domination, it was inhabited by the so-called derventdgii (special Bulgarian guards of the mountain passes and roads) and dzhelepi (traders of cattle, sheep in particular). The already mentioned obligations of Kotel towards the central authority compensated for a relative independence - municipal self-government, independently elected local governor, exemption of some taxation, and prohibition of Turkish settling there. All these, as well as the economic growth in 18th – 19th centuries, the commercial contracts, the passionate Orthodox belief of the inhabitants of Kotel (many used to travel to Jerusalem and Sveta Gora) contributed to the transformation of the town into a lively centre of Bulgarian culture and education, of the struggle for church independence and national freedom. Kotel is the native place of Captain Georgi Mamarchev (officer in the Russian Army), Georgi Sava Rakovski (one of the main ideologists of the movement for national liberation), the Revival men of letters Neophyte Bozvelli, Dr. Peter Beron (the author of the famous "Riben Boukvar" textbook), Sofronii Vrachanski (the most outstanding representative of the literary school of Kotel who copied "Istoria Slavyanobolgarska"(Slavonic and Bulgarian History) brought by Paissii Hilendarski himself in 1764), Stefan Izvorski, Ivan Kishelski, Vassil Beron, the socially active men Gavril Krustevich, Aleko Bogoridi, Stefan Bogoridi, etc. In 1812, the first Bulgarian elite secular school was opened here. The town is a native place of a number of voivodi (leaders of revolutionaries - haidouts), haidouts, revolutionaries, volunteers, members of in Hadzhi Dimitur's, Panayot Volov's, Hristo Botev's detachments. Vassil Levski set up a revolutionary committee in Kotel. The town suffered hard times during the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) raids. Indzhe attempted to attack and rob the town but its inhabitants erected a three-meter high wall and drove back the brigands. Nevertheless, in 1848 and 1863 Kotel was put on fire. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, battles were held in the immediate vicinity of the town. The town itself accommodated the volunteer detachments, the volunteers' headquarters with general Stoletov, as well as the Hussar regiment from Narvsk with A. Poushkin at the head, who was son of A. S. Poushkin, the genius Russian poet. After the liberation in 1894, Kotel suffered the most devastating fire in its history when the greater Part of the town was ruined down. Only the quarter called Galata survived and today it renders an approximate idea of what the old town looked like. The craft of carpet weaving is very typical for the town and the region, which makes Kotel the oldest centre of artistic fabrics in the country and abroad, having a unique weaving school. The town has preserved precious relics of the past - sarcophagus with Georgi Sava Rakovski's skeleton in it, Dr. Peter Beron's heart, manuscripts of Levski and Sofronii Vrachanski. Its rich history, Revival architecture and marvellous vicinity make this picturesque Balkan town a desired place for national and international tourism.

Landmarks. The town of Kotel has been declared an architecture and historical reserve. There have been preserved about 110 houses from the Revival Period in the quarter of Galata that survived the fire in 1894, as well as in those at Durlyanka Street. They are Kamchiya-style houses - one- or two-storied, made of stone and wood, with brilliant woodcarvings, huge eves, curved roofs and fantastic yards. The Galatan School (17, Izvorska Street, tel.: 0453 2316, working hours: 8.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.) - an architectural monument from 1869. There is a museum exposition of brilliant fabrics - symbol of the ancient craft of carpet weaving – so typical of Kotel. The Kyopeev's House -Ethnographic Museum (4, Altunlu Stoyan Street; working hours: 8.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.). The visitor finds himself in the romantic atmosphere of the old Kotel home, feeling its whole beauty, utility and coziness. The Pantheon of Kotel's Revival men and women (Vuzrazhdane Sq., working hours: 8.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.). It is an imposing building made of stone, iron, copper and wood, giving the impression of contact with the glory of the past epoch. Georgi Sava Rakovski's sarcophagus lies here. The Museum of Nature and Science (situated in the park called Izvorite (the Springs), tel.: 0453 2355, working hours: 8.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.). It preserves approximately 30 000 exhibits which show the natural variety of the area. The museum exposition has been arranged in accordance with ecological principles and occupies 1 000 square meters. It is the only one of its kind in Southeastern Europe. Vassil Georgiev, a local teacher at the time, established it. The Izvorite Park (the Springs), situated in the northern part of the town, is unique with the three springs (output flow of 2 000 liters per second). The Sveta Troitsa (St. Trinity) Church and St. St. Apostles Peter and Pavel Church preserve beautiful woodcarvings representing the Tryavna School of Art. There is Philip Koutev High School of Music in Kotel, it is the first high school for folk singing and instrumental music in Europe (the other school of this type is located in the village of Shiroka Luka in the Rhodope Mountains).

Accommodation: The Mel Invest Hotel (59, Izvorska Street) offers 50 beds. There is a restaurant and a discotheque. The Minor House for Prophylactics offers 30 beds and a restaurant. The Vetrila Hotel (1, Vetrila Street) offers 10 beds and a bar. There are numerous catering establishments that offer local cuisine in the town. One such restaurant is Diavena Restaurant, also Elenite Restaurant Starata Vodenitsa (Old Water mill) Tavern situated in the Izvorite Park, etc.

Tourist Information: in Kotel Tourist Association (housed in the town hall, tel.: 0453 2030, working hours: 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., Monday through Friday) and at the hotels.

Transport. Buses. There are regular lines to Shoumen, Veliki Preslav, Turgovishte, Omourtag, Sliven, Yambol and other smaller villages and towns in the district. The bus station is situated in the southern part of the town near the river (Louda Kamchia Street, tel.: 0453 2612, 2052, and 2460).

Surrounding areas. Apart from the town itself, there are four more architecture and historical reserves: the villages of Zheravna, Medven, Katounishte and Gradets. The village of Zheravna is 14 km south of Kotel and a regular bus runs to and from it. It is one of the pearls of Bulgaria. Every building in the village is in itself a unique cultural monument. It has been preserved almost in its authentic appearance and atmosphere. The most interesting sights are the House-Museum of Roussi Chorbadzhi, the House-Museum of Sava Filaretov, the House-Museum of Yordan Yovkov (that is the native home of the great Bulgarian writer), the houses of Dimo Kehaya and Todor Ikonomov, respectively. The village preserves remarkable ensembles of Revival town layout and architecture like the church complex with St. Nikolai Church built in 1932. It is worth mentioning the remarkable Hilendar Convent where "Slavonic and Bulgarian History" was copied (this particular copy is the so-called Zheravna manuscript). The class school from 1867 houses an art gallery. The village is the native place of many outstanding Bulgarians as Yordan Yovkov, Raiko Popovich, Sava Filaretov, Todor Ikonomov, V. Stoyanov, Dr. V. Sokolski, D. Stoyanov Bradata (the Beard), etc. Accommodation facilities in Zheravna can be found in the Zlatna Oresha Hotel Complex offering 50 beds and a restaurant. There are private lodgings as well. The village of Medven is 12 km southeast of Kotel and there is a regular bus line to it. There are more than 120 cultural monuments dating back to the Revival Epoch. The most famous one is the House-Museum of Zahari Stoyanov - the native home of the remarkable Bulgarian revolutionary and writer. Of special interest are the Yurta and Cherni Dol Architecture Ensembles, as well as St. Marina Church built in 1882. There are remains of a big medieval fortress. The village of Katounishte is 15 km southeast of Kotel. About 80 buildings in the village have been declared cultural monuments. There is a regular bus line from Kotel. The town of Gradets is situated 17 km southeast of Kotel, regular buses run to the latter and Sliven. It is rich in architecture Revival monuments - houses, a church, a school. There are remains of the medieval fortress of Grameni near the village. There are more than 30 caves that have already been investigated (non-electrified) in the region of Kotel. Most interesting of them are Ledenika Cave (1111 m long and 242 m deep), Dryanovska Cave (in the area of Pizdra, one of the most easily accessible and much visited by tourists, with numerous beautiful mineral formations), Kurvavata Lokva Cave (The Bloody Puddle) (134 m deep, the legend tells of the murder of many soldiers of Emperor Nikifor's), Rakovski Cave (in 1854 Georgi Sava Rakovski started writing his poem "Gorski Putnik" ("Traveller in the Forest") nearby), etc. Very interesting are the Skokovete (Jumps) Waterfall (situated on a left tributary of the Medven River; there is a marked tourist route from the town to the waterfalls), Sini Vir Waterfall (at the Medven River just above the village of Medven), and Medven Springs. Some 7 km south of Kotel is the antique dividing wall at Zhelezni Vrata Pass (Vrantik, Demir Kapiya - Iron Gates) that had once been connected with the Vida Fortress on the peak of the same name. At the foot of the peak is the area called Grutski Dol where the Byzantine were defeated by Khan Kroum's armies in 811 and by Ivailo on 17 July 1280. The remains of the medieval fortresses of Kozyak, Haidout Vurban, Ticha, Acheras and other are to be found in the environs of the town. Kotel is the only town in the country that is a point of the longest mountain tourist route in the country, that of Kom - Emine, starting at Mt. Kom (near the border with Serbia) and running along the ridge of the Balkan Mountain to Cape Emine at the Black Sea coast.

Karnobat (top)
Intro:
The town of Karnobat (population: 22 000; 220 m above sea level) is situated in the Karnobat Plain, in the northeastern part of Gornotrakiyska (Upper Thracian) Plain.

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From the town northwards starts the Stara Planina Mountain. It is 336 km and 58 km to the east of Sofia and Sliven, respectively, 22 km west of Aitos, 54 km north-west of Bourgas, 100 km south of Shoumen and 50 km north-east of Yambol. It is also an agricultural centre.

History. The territory of the present-day town was inhabited in ancient times. A real evidence supporting this fact is the Karnobat mound and the Roman fortress called Markela (or Kroumovo Kale, Hissarluka), where in 8th century Khan Kardam won a brilliant victory over the Byzantine and ever since the settlement has been Bulgarian. The town fell under Turkish domination in 1372. In a document in Doubrovnik from 1595, it was registered as Karanovo that is how the Bulgarians called it. In 1762, Bozhkovich from Doubrovnik first mentioned it using its present name Karnobat. At that time, the town was an important centre of sheep breeding famous for the local breed called Karnobat sheep. Huge quantities of meat, wool, pasturma (dried thin meat), lukanka (homemade piquant sausage), candles, and soap were produced. The two-week cattle fair was famous all over. After Russian-Turkish wars in the first half of 19th century, many inhabitants of the town moved to Besarabia. The first class school known as Karanovsko School was opened in 1862. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878), Karnobat was severely destroyed but consequently due to the rich agricultural resource of the region, the traditions in cattle breeding and wine manufacturing, as well as to the railway line Sofia-Bourgas it continued to develop and grow. From 1953 until 1962, the town was called Polyanovgrad, but after that, it regained its present day name. It is the native place of Slav Merdzhanov who was a Macedonian and Odrin revolutionary.

Landmarks. The Clock Tower is situated in the old southern part of the town. It was built by Tryavna masters in 1841 as a Revival symbol of a prospering trade and crafts settlement. The St. Archangel Yoan Bogoslov Church (in the town centre, tel.: 0559 4271, working hours: 7.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.) with an iconostasis made by Debur masters, was built in 1880 in a Revival architectural style. The Town Museum hosts a precious archaeological and ethnographic collection. The houses of Nikifor Minkov and Saroolou Bey are interesting with the woodcarvings in them. The Bencho Obreshkov Gallery (in the house of the communal cultural centre, downtown, working hours: 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.).

Accommodation: Karnobat Hotel (in the town centre, near Sofia-Bourgas road, 5, Asparouh Street) offers about 100 beds. The Orlovets Motel (7 km eastward) offers 30 beds and a restaurant. The Orlovets Chalet (2 buildings, 5 bungalows, 10 km east of Karnobat, and 3 km away from the village of Sokolovo, if one cuts through the town the distance is 7 km) offers 28 beds in 2 suites and two-, three-, and five-bed rooms, a restaurant and a coffee-bar. There are interesting places offering traditional cuisine like the Starata Kashta Tavern (The Old House) (21, Aleksi Denev Street), etc.

Tourist Information - at the hotels and at Orlovets Tourist Association (1, Todor Kableshkov Street, tel.: 0559 2192).

Transport. The town is an important transport centre with regular bus lines to Bourgas, Sliven, Yambol, Aitos, Sredets, Kotel, Shoumen, etc. Karnobat Bus Station. The railway station of Karnobat (tel.: 0559 2150, 2151) is the fourth important in the country. It is a station on the line Sofia - Karlovo - Bourgas, and a point of departure in the direction of the railway station of Komounari where it forks to Northern Bulgaria.

Surrounding areas. The medieval fortress of Markela is situated 7.5 km south-west of the town. The archaeological excavations started in 1986 and so far there have been recovered a medieval basilica of 6th century, an Old Bulgarian church of 10th century, and a Byzantine church of 11th century. The fortress has most imposing ancient Bulgarian earth fortifications called valove (ramparts). The town of Soungourlare is 25 km north-west of Karnobat. It is well known in Bulgaria and abroad for its marvellous wines. The most famous brand called Soungourlarski misket is made from the grapes grown in the adjacent vine-growing villages and towns - Grozden, Slavyantsi, Choubra, Lozitsa and Chernitsa. There is a regular bus line to Karnobat.

Aitos (top)
Intro:
The town of Aitos (population: 25 057; 100 m above sea level) is situated on both banks of the Aitos river, in the Aitos field, in the southern foot of the Eastern Balkan Mountain (Aitos Mountain).

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It is 358 km east of Sofia, 30 km north-west of Bourgas and 22 km east of Karnobat. It is an agricultural centre.

History. Aitos is an old settlement founded by the Thracian tribes. Northwest of the town there are the remains of three turrets belonging to the medieval fortress called Aetos (in Greek - an eagle) erected between 650 and 750 AC. That is where its present day name comes from. It was registered with this name by the Byzantine chronicler Nikita Honiat, and in the chronicles of the French knight Geoffrois de Lavarduen. In 1206 Aetos was destroyed by the Crusaders. In 1488, it grew again as a fortified town. Later in 17th century, the traveller Evlia Chelebi registered it as Chengis, while in the Revival Period it was known as Qrlovo or Orlovets. At that time, it was a considerably big town with a famous fair. After the signing of the peace treaty in Odrin in 1829, many inhabitants of the towns and its vicinity moved to Bessarabia, and yet during the liberation period (1878) the town numbered 3000 inhabitants. The annual four-day long agricultural and crafts fair continued to be held. The first agricultural school for young girls in the country was opened here.

Landmarks. Museum Ethnographic Collection (in the area of the Genger Hotel, tel.: 0558 6157, 6158); Chengelievs' House-Museum (13, Chengelievi Street, tel.: 0558 5990); Peter Stanev House-Museum (26, Peter Stanev Street; tel.: 0558 5643); St. Dimitur Church with precious frescoes (22, Tsar Osvoboditel Street; tel.: 0558 2004). The mineral baths of Aitos are situated in the eastern part of the town. The water temperature is 16°-17°C, output rate - 30 liters per second. The mineral water is good for drinking and curing stomach, gastric and liver diseases.

Accommodation: The Aetos Hotel (1, Garova Street) in the southwestern part of the town, not far from the railway station. The Genger Hotel (60, Parkova Street) offers a restaurant-tavern and a coffee bar.

Tourist Information - at the hotels and at the Choudnite Skali Tourist Association (35A, Stancionna Street, tel.: 0558 2650).

Transport. Buses and trains. There are regular bus lines to Bourgas, Karnobat, etc. The railway station is in the northwestern part of the town (1, Georgi Kondolov Street; tel.: 0558 2030, 2137). The railway station (in the southwestern industrial zone, tel.: 0558 2111, 2113) is on the main line Sofia-Bourgas (via Plovdiv and Karlovo).

Surrounding areas. The remains of the Aetos Fortress are located north-west of the town on a small hill. The Byala Reka Resort Area (White River) is 16 km north-west of Aitos and 4 km north of the village of Topolitsa. The Zdravets Chalet is situated in its southern end (40 beds); a still further north is the zone for rest and sports, with rest homes and villas. There is a regular bus line from Aitos to the village of Topolitsa. Near the town, the famous Aitos green stone (andezit) is mined, used for cladding.

Malko Turnovo (top)
Intro:
The town of Malko Turnovo (population: 3 527; about 340 m above sea level) is the only town in the Bulgarian part of Strandzha Mountain.

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It is 470 km south-east of Sofia, 83 km south of Bourgas, 58 km south-west of Tsarevo, and 9 km north-east of the checkpoint of the same name at the border with Turkey. Guard of the Bulgarian spirit in the region of Strandzha Mountain.

History. A Thracian settlement existed on the spot of the present day town; only mounds and necropolis have remained. According to the Shkorpil brothers that is where a Roman roadside station called Outsourgas was located. The present town of Malko Turnovo was founded by the end of 16th century and the beginning of 17th century, most probably by settlers that had moved from the adjacent huts and smaller villages to settle by the Golemiya Vris Spring where people still drink its nice water. The name of the settlement derives from the profusion of prickly thistles all over the place. Initially Trunovo changed into Turnovo and later the word "Malko" (small) was added to distinguish it from the name of the old Bulgarian capital Turnovo. G. Ensholm was the first to give information about the town. He participated in Dibich Zabalkanski's march at the time of the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829. In his book "Notes on the Towns beyond the Balkan Mountain" he claimed that the town had 3 500 inhabitants who earned their living primarily with sheep-breeding, and all the crafts related to it - aba manufacturing (coarse homespun woollen cloth and upper men's garment made of it), tailoring, leather-processing and manufacturing, wool spinning and weaving, cattle trade, as well as masonry and pottery. There were excellent goldsmiths and money-changers. People mined marble, part of which was used for the construction and decoration of the Dolma Bahche Palace in Istanbul. Trade was well developed in many workshops. In the second half of 19th century Malko Turnovo was a nice and rich town with a population of nearly 8 000 inhabitants - Bulgarians. They passionately preserved the Bulgarian spirit, customs and traditions. The first monastery school was opened at the beginning of last century. A secular school was set up in the 40s of 19th century, and about 1875 - a school for young girls. In 1902, the town had a performance hall. According to the Berlin Treaty signed after the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878), Malko Turnovo was left within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. At the time of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising (1903) the district revolutionary committee was lodged in the town; the outstanding leaders were Stefan Dobrev, Raiko Petrov, Lefter Mechev, Diko Dzhelepov, etc. After the severe defeat of the uprising around 5 000 inhabitants of Malko Turnovo had to leave their native place. The town was liberated from foreign rule in 1912.

Landmarks. Some twenty or so old buildings in the typical Strandzha style have been declared monuments of culture. Some of them are Popikonomov's House where is the eth¬nographic collection, and Velko Georgiev's workshop with 18-meter long facade. There is a museum collection called "Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903" arranged at the Prosveta Cultural Centre. There are interesting icons (made by Sokrat Georgiev, an icon-painter from Sozopol) and frescoes in the Uspenie Bogorodichno (Assumption) Church (1830). The Golyam Vris Spriog where the town sprang up is in the centre.

Accommodation. The Malko Turnovo Hotel.

Tourist Information - at the hotel and in the town hall.

Transport. Only buses are available. The international road from Bourgas to Lozengrad (Kurklareli) and Istanbul passes through Malko Turnovo. There are regular bus lines to Bourgas and Tsarevo, as well as to all smaller villages and towns in the region.

Surrounding areas. Several kilometers north of the village of Stoilovo (the village is some 10 km away from the town) near one of the curves of the Veleka River, is Petrova Niva -a sacred place for every Bulgarian; it is also known as Strandzha Oborishte. This is the place where the delegates of the Odrin Revolutionary District with leaders Georgi Kondolov, Mihail Gerdzhikov, Penyo Shivarov, etc. gathered and from 28th to 30th June 1903 worked out the plan for the uprising. It broke on the Christian holiday of Preobrazhenie (Transfiguration) (19th August in the old calendar); so people know it as the Preobrazhenie Uprising. At Petrova Niva there is a big monument-charnel house of Georgi Kondolov and a museum collection. Each year on 19th August national celebrations are held in memory of all that participated in the Preobrazhenie Uprising. There is a regular bus line to the village of Stoilovo only. Dolmenite - pre-historic tombs near the village of Gramatikovo, which is situated 25 km northeast of the town. There is a regular bus transport. Mt. Gradishteto (710 m) - the highest peak in Strandzha Mountain, which is on the territory of Bulgaria. It is situated on the very border with Turkey. There are remains of a Thracian fortress and a settlement. Twenty kilometers north of Malko Turnovo runs one of the most picturesque Bulgarian rivers - Veleka, a wonderful place for having a rest, fishing and practising water tourism with canoes. The Kachoula Resort is near the village of Gramatikovo. The village of Bulgari known for nestinari dances - dancers step on embers barefooted, is 41 km northeast on the way to Tsarevo. In this part of Bulgaria, one can find the Strandzha periwinkle - evergreen endemic bush included in the Bulgarian Red Book of Floral Species under Protection.

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