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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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Central Northern Bulgaria
Apriltzi
The town of Apriltsi (about 5000 inhabitants; between 500 and 600 meters above sea level) is spread out along the northern corrugations of the Kalofer Mountain, by the Ostreshka River (the Novoselska River), the Vidima River and the Zla Reka River.
Byala
The town of Byala (approximately 11 000 inhabitants; 60 meters above sea level) is situated along the Yantra River in the central part of the Danube Plain.
Dryanovo
The town of Dryanovo (9707 inhabitants; 270 meters above sea level) is amphitheatrically situated along the two banks of the Dryanovska River, a right tributary to the Yantra River.
Elena
The town of Elena (7471 inhabitants; 300 meters above sea level) is situated in the mountain valley of the same name, in the northern approaches of the Elena-Tvurditsa Balkan Mountain (Central Stara Planina).
Gabrovo
The town of Gabrovo (67 350 inhabitants; 390 meters above sea level) is situated along the two banks of the Yantra River, at the northern foot of the Shipka Balkan Mountain (Central Stara Planina).
Gorna Oryahovitsa
The town of Gorna Oryahovitsa (35 621 inhabitants; 160 meters above sea level) is situated at the northern outskirts of the Turnovo Hills, at the distance of 7 km north-east from Veliko Turnovo, 3 km north-west of Lyaskovets and 247 km north-east of Sofia.
Lovech
The town of Lovech (44 262 inhabitants, about 200 m above sea level) is picturesquely situated along the two banks of the Osum River, where the last elevations of the Pre-Balkan Mountain end.
Nikopol
The town of Nikopol (5108 inhabitants; at about 100 meters above sea level) is amphitheatrically situated along the slopes of several hills, on the high right bank of the Danube River, at the distance of 3 km to the east of the mouth of the Ossum River.
Pavlikeni
The town of Pavlikeni (about 14 000 inhabitants; 115 meters above sea level) is situated in the central part of the Danubian Plain, at a distance of about 4 km north of the Rositsa River.
Pleven
The town of Pleven (122149 inhabitants; about 150 meters above sea level) is located in the central part of the Danubian Plain, past the Vit River.
Rousse
The town of Rousse (162128 inhabitants; 50 meters above sea level) is located on the high right bank of the Danube River, 496 m from the outflow of the big river.
Sevlievo
The town of Sevlievo (about 25 000 inhabitants; 200 meters above sea level) is situated in the mountain valley of the same name, along the left bank of the Rossitsa River, a little after its spillway with the Vidima River.
Svishtov
The town of Svishtov (30 591 inhabitants; about 100 meters above sea level) is situated at a high terrace on the right bank of the Danube River, in the place where the river reaches its most southern point.
Teteven
The town of Teteven (12 581 inhabitants; 410 m above sea level) is picturesquely nestled the two banks of the Beli Vit River between Teteven Balkan Mountain and Vassiliov Mountain (sub-part of the Troyan Balkan Mountain).
Troyan
The town of Troyan (26 541 inhabitants; 400 meters above sea level) spreads out along the two banks of the Beli Osum River, at the northern foothill of the Troyan Balkan Mountain.
Tryavna
The town of Tryavna (12 226 inhabitants 440 meters above sea level) is situated in a small valley expansion of the Tryavna Balkan mountain (Central Stara Planina), along the two banks of the Dryanovska River.
Veliko Turnovo
The town of Veliko Turnovo (66 998 inhabitants; 210 meters above sea level) is regally situated along the historical hills of Sveta Gora, Tsarevets and Trapezitsa, on the two banks of the Yantra River, cutting a peculiar gorge through Turnovo Hills.

Teteven (top)
Intro:
The town of Teteven (12 581 inhabitants; 410 m above sea level) is picturesquely nestled the two banks of the Beli Vit River between Teteven Balkan Mountain and Vassiliov Mountain (sub-part of the Troyan Balkan Mountain).

Full text:
It s 116 km northeast from Sofia, 74 km south-west from Lovech, 60kmwest to Troyan, 23 km south-east from Yablanitsa and 54 km east of Botevgrad. The people's poet Ivan Vazov said about it ("Unless I had come to Teteven, I would have been a foreigner for Mother Bulgaria, too…)"

History. The region has been inhabited since the remote past. The tribe of the Serbs lived in these places, at Thracian times due to which the Romans later on included the region in the Serdika strategy. Saint Iliya Monastery dates back to Medieval Bulgaria. The oldest information about the settlement in writing is contained in a document of 1421. The name mentioned there was Tetevyan. An artistically elaborated cross, a gift from Tsar Ivan Shishman, was preserved in Saint Iliya Monastery up to the year 1930 (at the moment it is in London Museum). Evidently the Monastery existed during the 13th -14th centuries and probably the settlement developed around it During the Ottoman Rule, the inhabitants of Teteven were "voinutsi", i. e. they were assigned some military and guard duties against which they obtained certain rights and independence Teteven developed as a prospering handicraft settlement. During the 16th and the 17th centuries, the Turks carried out forcible conversion to Islam within the region but they did not dare touch the town. The popular haidouts (armed revolutionaries grouped in detachments) were Kostin Deli Palo, Dancho, Angel, and Niagol. In 1800, there were about 3000 houses in the town of Teteven. The town merchants traded with Sofia Bucharest, Brashov, Vienna, Thessaloniki, and Anadoia. Over 60 of its inhabitants were Hadzhii (they had gone to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem). In 1801, the town was completely devastated by kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands). Half of the inhabitants was slaughtered, the survivals left Teteven. From the 3 thousand buildings, only four survived... Although the settlement rehabilitated with the elapse of the years, it never reached its previous heyday and welfare. The inhabitants of Teteven kept abreast with the cultural and political upsurge during the Bulgarian revival. Churches and schools were built and Bulgarian spirit was kept and strengthened. In 1872, Vassil Levski organized the most numerous revolutionary committees in the Bulgarian lands (51 people) with a chairperson and a cashier – both of them outstanding and influential wealthy men Stanio Vrabevski and Petko Miliov - Strashmya (the Terrible), Dimitur Obshti (a close associate of Levski) worked in the town, too. Under his guidance, the robbery of the Turkish postal service in the Arabakonak Pass was carried out on 22 September 1872. This act, kept in secret from Levski unfortunately led to tragic consequences for the whole revolutionary organisation and for V. Levski in person - all revolutionary committees founded by Levski during the years were now broken and the Apostle was caught and hung on 18th February 1873 in Sofia. The final drama of the April Uprising took place at the distance of 15 km to the southeast of the town. Georgi Benkovski (the factual leader of the people's riot), Zakhari Stoyanov who left for Bulgarian people the priceless " Notes on Bulgarian Uprisings"), Father Kiril (the cashier of the 4th Revolutionary District), and Stefo - the Dalmatian, fell victims to a repulsive betrayal. They were caught in a Turkish ambush in the locality of Kostina in which Benkovski and Father Kiril were murdered and Z. Stoyanov and S the Dalmatian survived by a miracle after incredible narrow escapes. Teteven inhabitants slaughtered the traitor on the day when he was to receive his recompense. 11 members of Botev’s detachment of armed volunteers, 4 members of Panaiot Hitov’s detachment as of 1876 and 48 volunteers in the Russian-Turkish War were born in Teteven. The liberation of the town is related to the name of the inhabitant of Teteven Banio Marinov, who guided the squadron of Colonel Orlov through the Vassiliovska Mountain. The Turks were taken by surprise and rendered harmless. Later on, the same inhabitant of Teteven participated in the liberation of the town of Orhanie (Botevgrad), too and became its first town governor. Banio Marinov organised a detachment of volunteers and took part in the Kresna Uprising in Macedonia where he was wounded. He died of his wound in Sofia Hospital. Sava Mladenov (one of the close assistants of Hr. Botev in the last tragic days of the poet and revolutionary and his detachment of armed volunteers) was born in Teteven, too. He found his death at the distance of 8 km to the south of the town. After the Liberation, Teteven developed as a centre of tourism.

Landmarks. The Town Museum of History (3, Sava Mladenov Sq., tel.: 0678 2005). Working hours: 9.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m. (all the week round in summertime). St. Iliya Monastery built up during the 14th century is one of the 4 buildings, which survived in the sinister year of 1801. All Saints Church (situated in the central part of the town). It was built from 1834 to 1846 and is an exception among the churches built up during the years of the Ottoman Rule due to its large dimensions - it is 31.1 m long, 14 m wide with thickness of the walls of 1.5 m. Its two large bells were cast in Moscow. The pulpit is decorated with woodcarving from Debur and the iconostasis is with woodcarvings from Teteven. The ancient house-museums from those, which survived in 1801 are remarkable: Bobev's house (tel.: 0678 3205), Tuikov's (tel.: 0678 3097), Hadzhi Ivan's (with Levski's hiding-place in it) and lorgo's house. Teteven has a Picture Gallery, too. The monuments to Petko Strashniya (the Terrible) (at the beginning of the town), of Banio Marinov and others are erected here too. Teteven is famous for its rakiya (plum brandy). Every year at the beginning of the May, biggest mountain cycling race on the Balkan Peninsula is held here organized by the Bulgarian Extreme Sports Club "Boundless".

Accommodation: The Zdravets Hotel. Koznitsa Tourist Hostel (in the southern part of the town along the banks of the Koznitsa River, a left tributary of the Beli Vit River). It has 50 beds in double rooms and in 3- and 4-bed rooms. The town offers private lodgings as well. There are good public catering establishments in Teteven with an original local cuisine and pleasant entertainment. Two of the most preferred ones are the Sinchets Restaurant and Manuel Restaurant.

Tourist information - at the Regional Tourist Information Bureau, 5700 Teteven (Sava Mladenov Sq.). One can obtain information here about the tourist sites in and around Gabrovo, Tryavna, Troyan and Apriltsi (participating along with Teteven in the Stara Planina Tourist Association). At Vezhen Tourist Association (7, Hr. Botev Street, tel: 0678 3110, 2372). At the Holiday House and at the Tourist Hostel also can be given.

Transport. Teteven has regular bus connections with Sofia, Vratsa, Roman, Loukovit, Cherven Bryag, Oryahovo, Pleven, Lovech, and Veliko Turnovo as well as with almost all the settlements within the region. The bus station (54, 3rd March Street) is located on the left bank of the Beli Vit River next to the stadium. There are two town bus lines, too.

Surrounding areas. Teteven is one of the most picturesque Bulgarian towns. It is surrounded by crown of mountain peaks Mt. Treskavets, Mt. Ostrich, Mt. Cherven, Mt. Kon, Mt. Haidoushka Polyana, Mt. Petrahilia and others. The panorama of the town is quite impressive and characteristic and it remains in the visitor's mind to the end of his life. The rocky vertical precipices of Petrahilya (an Alpine mountaineering site) are particularly spectacular. There is a marked tourist track up to its peak. The village of Ribaritsa (at 12 km to the east) is one of the longest villages in Bulgaria and it is a famous mountainous resort. There are a lot of holiday homes, country-houses, private hotels, and public catering establishments. The place of death and the monument to Georgi Benkovski( killed by the Turks) are located on the right bank of the Kostina river. Every year on this date, celebrations are held where actors reproduce the events, which took place immediately before the death of the Voivoda. There is a regular bus line between the village and Teteven. The area of Prossechenik (beside the Beli Vit River, on the road to the village of Ribaritsa, at the distance of 6 km from the town) offers perfect conditions for recreation during the summer months. The buses for the village of Ribaritsa have a stop there. The waterfall of the Koznitsa River (a left tributary of the Beli Vit River) is located at the distance of 3 km to the south of Teteven. The asphalt road does not go to the waterfall itself and one is to walk along a path along the river. The monument erected at the place of death of Sava Mladenov is also located beside the Koznitsa River (on its left bank), at 8 km to the south of Teteven. A marked track strays from the asphalt road, crosses the river and it takes 5 minutes to get to the historical site. There is no regular bus transport to it. Momina Poliana Chalet, with the exceptionally beautiful countryside around it is located on the northern slopes of the Teteven Balkan Mountain. A point of departure to it is the village of Cherni Vit (13 km south-west from the town), to which there is a regular bus transport. It takes about 4 hours to get to the chalet on foot. The Teteven Balkan is included in the territory of the Central Balkan Mountain National Park. The two nature reserves - Boatin (within the territory of the village of Cherni Vit) and Tsarichina (within the territory of the village of Ribaritsa) are located within its framework in the proximity of Teteven. The big village of Glozhene is situated at the distance of 12 km to the north west of Teteven. The historical Glozhen Monastery is located above it (refer the Yablanitsa related section herein).

Troyan (top)
Intro:
The town of Troyan (26 541 inhabitants; 400 meters above sea level) spreads out along the two banks of the Beli Osum River, at the northern foothill of the Troyan Balkan Mountain.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 60 km to the east of Teteven, 180 km to the northeast of Sofia, 70 km and 35 km to the south of Pleven and Lovetch, respectively, 47 km to the south-west of Sevlievo and at the distance of 25 km to the northeast from the historical Troyan Pass in the Balkan Mountains. It is a town with opulent traditions.

History. The name of the town comes from the ancient Roman road crossing the Balkan Mountain through today's Troyan Pass - Via Trayana, which linked Misia with Thrace and the Aegean Sea. The origin of the today's settlement is thought to go back somewhere at the beginning of the 15th century, when, after Bulgaria fell under Ottoman Rule, a lot of Bulgarian refugees settled down in this hard-to-reach and forested region running away from the arbitrary rule of the Turks. Later on, the migrations continued and Troyan grew up but about the year 1800, the town suffered three invasions of the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) who devastated it. In spite of this, during the 19th century, the town reached a high material and cultural prosperity. The crafts were those, which reached their greatest development, pottery and woodcarving in particular. More than half of the population of the town made their living based on these crafts until World War II. The bright and intelligent mountain dwellers realised that their future lays in faith and enlightenment. Talented master builders created magnificent patterns of the Bulgarian Revival church architecture in the town and within the region - in 1835 St. Paraskeva Church in Troyan and The Assumption Church in the Troyan Monastery were built (refer to the Stara Planina related chapter herein). In 1839, the St. Nikolai Letni Church was erected in the area of Goumoshtnik whose wood-carved iconostasis is a unique of its kind work of the Bulgarian Revival Art. In 1870, a Community Cultural Centre was set up in Troyan, in which 2 years later the commencement of the theatrical activities in the town was set up with the performance of "Genoveva the Martyr". In 1872, the Yellow School was built up in the town, in which the modern secular program of teaching was introduced involving studies of the French language as well. The inhabitants of the town of Troyan did not let the revolutionary processes go past them either. In 1869, they enthusiastically met the Apostle Vassil Levski and Matei Preobrazhenski - Mitkaloto. Two years later a secret revolutionary committee was set up there at Levski's initiative. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation in August 1877, Troyan was devastated by the bashibozouks (Turkish army of volunteers), but its population rendered invaluable assistance to General Kartsov when his army passed the Balkan Mountain through the Troyan Pass. After the liberation, the town was rebuilt out of the ashes. In 1911, the first electric bulb was lit and soon after that Troyan became the third electrified town in Bulgaria (after Sofia and Plovdiv). The building of the railway line Lovech - Troyan gave an impetus to the development of the town - it commenced in 1929 and was completed in 1948. Troyan is the birthplace of Ivan Hadzhiiski (our greatest sociologist and nation’s psychologist), Prof. Dr. Nikola Shipkovenski (psychiatrist) and many other outstanding names. In the autumn of 1998, 130 years of the proclamation of Troyan as a town, were solemnly celebrated.

Landmarks. Crafts and Applied Arts Museum (Centralen Square, in the building of the old Municipality, tel.: 0670 22062). Working hours: 8.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m. Day off - Monday (from April to October) and Saturday and Sunday (in winter). Serekov's House Town Art Gallery (6, Angel Kunchev Street, 50 m from the central square). Working hours: 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.; Monday to Saturday. The St. Paraskeva Church dating back to 1835 is another historical sightseeing. An architectural ensemble around the house of Viassi Vlaskovski (Vassil Levski Street). An architectural ensemble (houses over the river) next to Marko's Bridge. The architectural complex Nounki (in the central town part, next to the river) represents restored houses of the traditional Balkan mountain architectural type). It is a hotel now. Architectural complex at 129-137A, V. Levski Street. The house of Dona Milina (next to the church). Architectural and ethnographic ensemble along Tsar Kaloyan Street. Balev's houses at Gen, Kartsov Street. Old houses in Popishka Quarter. Old houses in Drianska Quarter. There are some annual festivities of national importance, as well, namely: A day of the Plum Tree and Plum Brandy - the last Saturday of September, Festival of Films for the Mountain - the last Saturday and Sunday of September, The Day of Troyan - 14 October (Petkovden - Name day of those named Petko).

Accommodation: Nounki Hotel Complex (3-star, located in the central part of the town, near the bridge over Elma River). It has 18 beds in 2 suites and 6 rooms and a restaurant. Residence Complex (owned by Troyan municipality, at a 20-minute walk from the centre of the town; there is an asphalt road, too) on the hill in the town park of Kupincho. Nikola Gaburski Tourist House in the town park of Kupincho, 2 km from the centre of Troyan (there is a lane leading directly to it). It offers 60 beds in rooms with 2 and 3 beds, a restaurant, a day bar and central heating. Troyan Resort Complex Co. manages the two Holiday Houses - Kupina 1 and Kupina 2 (200 m from each other) on the hill in Kupincho Town Park, offering 170 beds in total.

Tourist information - at the Municipal Tourist Information Bureau (with the Tourist Association) – postal code: 5600 Troyan, 133, Vassil Levski Street, tel. /FAX: 0670 35064. Ambaritsa Tourist Associaton (tel.: 0670 26017). At the hotel, at the Holiday Houses and at the Tourist House.

Transport. Bus and railway transport are available. There are regular bus links with Sofia, Pleven, lovech, Cherven Bryag, Veliko Turnovo, Gabrovo, Sevlievo, Plovdiv and Karlovo as well as with almost all smaller settlements within the region. There is a private Neshev Bus Line to Sofia (point of departure in Troyan- in front of the hotel; in Sofia - near the Princess Hotel, the former Novotel Europa Hotel). The bus station (21, Dimitur Ikonomov- Dimitrikata Street, tel.: 0670 22172, 24207) is located in the eastern part of the town, on the right bank of the Beli Vit River, not far from the railway station, which is the last along the Levski- Lovech-Troyan railway line. Troyan is connected to the national railway network through Levski railway station. There is a town bus transport as well.

Surrounding areas. The historical Troyan Monastery is located at the distance of 10 km to the southeast from the town of Troyan (refer to the Stara planina related chapter herein). A local teacher in Biology created the Museum of Natural science in the village of Cherni Osum (12 km southeast from the town and 2 km to the south of the Troyan Monastery). Working hours: 8.00 a.m. -12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m. all the week round. There is a regular bus line between the village and the town. There are accommodation facilities in Cherni Osum (refer to the Stara planina related chapter herein; Troyan Monastery section). National Fair - Crafts and Applied Arts in the village of Oreshak (7 km to the east of the town). Articles of the modern masters of art crafts and the applied arts not only from Troyan and from the region, but also from all over the country, often of foreign guests, are exhibited in the numerous halls there. A part of the exposition is a bazaar, too. Demonstrations of masters and tasting of the famous Troyan plum brandy (rakiya) are organized upon a preliminary request. Working hours: 9.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m., all the week round, tel.: 0670 2318, 2317. There are accommodation facilities in the village as well (refer to the Stara Planina related chapter herein, Troyan Monastery section). All the buses from Troyan to Cherni Osum, the Troyan Monastery, Apriltsi, etc. have a stop in the village of Oreshak. Beklemeto - a resort tourist complex in the area bearing the same name, 22 km to the southwest from the town and 3 km under the Troyan Pass in the Troyan Balkan Mountain (about 1300 m above the sea level). There are a lot of private country-houses, public catering establishments, a hotel complex named "Bulgaria" with 50 beds, a restaurant. Battles for control of the Troyan Pass by Russian units and Bulgarian volunteers were held there during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (January 1878). The historical Kartsov buk (Beech tree) bearing a mark of the sword of a Cossack is located at about 1 km south of the central part of the complex. Beklemeto is a point of departure for tourist hiking tours round the Troyan Balkan Mountain-for the Dermenka Chalet (about 3 hours), for the KozyaStena Chalet (2.30-3 hours) and others. All regular buses passing through the Troyan Pass stop at Beklemeto. The village of Shipkovo -18 km to the west, on the road for Teteven, among the northern elevations of Vassiliov's Mountain. A balneotherapy resort with holiday houses, private country-houses, an open-air mineral beach with a swimming pool. Private lodgings are offered as well. The mineral spring is with the output rate of 55 l/sec at the temperature of 52°C. The mineral waters cure hypertension, gastric, liver, kidney and nervous diseases. It is the point of departure for the Vassiliov Chalet (a 2-hour walk) under the higher peak in the Vassiliov's Mountain. 5 buses run daily between Shipkovo and Troyan. A great part of the Troyan Balkan Mountain is within the boundaries of the Central Balkan National Park within the framework of which the Steneto and Kozya Stena Biosphere Reserves are located. The first is included in the list of UNESCO and comprises an area of 3602.4 hectares around the upper course of the Cherni Osum River. It is characterised by lots of rocky formations, karst shapes and caves. A regular bus running to the village of Cherni Osum may be used and one can walk from there on. The second is the smallest reserve in the park and it was created mainly for the preservation of the endemic kind of old mountainous edelweiss. One of the most beautiful peaks of the Balkan Mountain is situated here - Mt. Kozya Stena. It may be reached most easily from Beklemeto (about a 2-hour walk). Troyan is one of the most important points of departure for tourist hiking tours around the Central Part of the Stara Planina Mountain and, in particular, around the Troyan Balkan Mountain. Sopot Dam - at about 30 km to the north-west, by the village of Golyama Zhelyazna, it is a wonderful place for recreation, sunbathing, water motor sports, water tourism, and fishing. There are good conditions for camping as well as holiday houses, private country-houses, and public catering establishments. All the busses passing by have a stop there.

Apriltzi (top)
Intro:
The town of Apriltsi (about 5000 inhabitants; between 500 and 600 meters above sea level) is spread out along the northern corrugations of the Kalofer Mountain, by the Ostreshka River (the Novoselska River), the Vidima River and the Zla Reka River.

Full text:
Its quarters (former villages) are scattered at a great distance one from the other. It is situated at the distance of 205 km to the south of Sofia, 57 km to the west of Gabrovo, 41 km to the south-west of Sevlievo, 25 km to the southeast of Troyan and 49 km to the southeast of Lovetch. It is a colourful mountain resort.

History. It was in 1812 when a church and a school with it were opened here and in 1850, a secular school was founded, as well. In 1872, Vassil Levski organized a secret revolutionary committee. Freedom-loving Balkan mountain dwellers took part in the April Uprising (1876), known here as Novoselo Uprising. The Republic of Novoselo was proclaimed and the rebels heroically defended the whole 9 days against the numerously outnumbering them enemy. It was drowned in blood and fire - over 150 people killed, many people exiled, 772 buildings were destroyed and set on fire, the convent and the church of 1812 inclusively. Voivoda Tsanko Dustabanov who came with his detachment from Gabrovo in support of the insurgent villages was killed there, too. A great part of the survived population emigrated. In 1976 in honour of the 100-annual jubilee from the April Uprising the four villages - Novo Selo, Vidima, Zla Reka and Ostrets were proclaimed as today's town of Apriltsi. The first village is considered as central area of the new town. Apriltsi increasingly becomes an attractive winter resort.

Landmarks. The historical Novo Selo Monastery (in the eastern part of the Novo Selo Quarter). It was plundered and destroyed by fire during the Uprising. It was rebuilt after the Liberation. The following places of interest are located in Novo Selo, too: House-monument to Novoselo Uprising. The Architectural and Ethnographical Museum, St. Georgi Temple Monument, the houses of R. Popnikolov and M. Popski.

Accommodation. The Loven Dom Hotel (Vidima Quarter, 10 beds, everything needed for hunting on offer). The Tihiyat Kut Hotel (10 beds in 5 double rooms). Matev Hotel, family type of hotel (10 beds). Zora Chalet (in the Zora Quarter, past the road fork to the quarter of Vidima, 57 beds in 1 suite and rooms with 3,4, 5, 8 and more beds). Vidima Chalet (in the southern end of the quarter of Vidima, 54 beds in 1 suite and rooms with 3, 4 and 5 beds). There are private homes, which offer accommodation as well: Tsonevski (6 beds in 3 double rooms), Turnovski (2 beds), Perkovi (4 beds in 2 double rooms), Nikolova (4 beds). Catering is offered at all hotels, chalets and private lodgings.

Tourist information - in the Regional Tourist Bureau - 5641 Apriltsi (102, V. Levski Street, Stara Planina block, tel. /fax: 06958 3249). At the Balkan Tourist Association. At the hotels, at the tourist chalets.

Transport. There are regular bus lines to Troyan, Sevlievo, Gabrovo, Pleven, Lovech and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station is in the Novo Selo Quarter. A town bus runs between the quarters of the town.

Surrounding areas Batoshevo Monastery (20 km to the northeast of Apriltsi and 4 km to the south of the village of Batoshevo). It was founded during the 13th century under the reign of the Bulgarian Tsar Mihail Assen (1248-1258). It was destroyed during the Ottoman invasion in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1838. It was wall-painted in 1869. Father Matei Preobrazhenski Mitkaloto (the Wanderer) and Bacho Kiro studied in the monastery school. The church built up in the style of the Bulgarian Revival, the icons painted in the style of Tryavna icon-painting school and the great wood-carved iconostases are remarkable. All the buses going into direction of Sevlievo stop here. The village of Batoshevo (at the distance of about 25 km to the northeast of Apriltsi). This is one of the villages whose population took most active part in the April (Novo selo) Uprising. There is a monument to those glorious and tragic days. All the buses passing between Apriltsi and Sevlievo stop here. The monument in the Ravni Bunar area (along the northern slopes of Mt. Roussalka, known also as Mt. Mara Gidik, above Ostrets Quarter). It can be reached on foot solely along the marked track from the quarter of Ostrets leading to Mt. Roussalka and the Tuzha Chalet. The town of Apriltsi is one of the most important points of departure for hiking trails around the highest and beautiful part of the Central Stara Planina Mountain - the Kalofer Balkan Mountain, at the head with the leader of the whole mountain - Mt. Botev (refer to the Stara Planina Mountain related chapter herein).

Lovech (top)
Intro:
The town of Lovech (44 262 inhabitants, about 200 m above sea level) is picturesquely situated along the two banks of the Osum River, where the last elevations of the Pre-Balkan Mountain end.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of about 170 km to the northeast of Sofia, 90 km and 35 km to the south. From Nikopol and Pleven, respectively, at the distance of 35 km to the north of Troyan, 86 km to the west of Veliko Turnovo and 65 km to the north-west of Gabrovo. One of the oldest and most interesting Bulgarian towns. It is an administrative center.

History. The town is a descendant of the Thracian by-the-road town of Melta, which have strategic location along the Danube-Aegean Sea main road. During the Medivial times, the town remained an important military center and it was called Lovuts (a town of hunters). After the Turnovo Uprising, the Lovetch fortress firmly defended the approaches to Turnovo. After a 3-month siege the Byzantium Empire was forced to conclude the well-known Lovetch Peace treaty (1187), stipulating a new beginning for the Bulgarian state. Since the end of the Byzantium Empire, the town has been known by its today’s name – Lovetch. During the 13th and particularly during the 14th century, it was one of the biggest towns in Northern Bulgaria and it reached an enviable economic prosperity. The town fell under Ottoman Rule in 1393. The last semi-independent ruler of the Lovech Fortress - Stanko Kussam, became a haidoutin (rebel) after its downfall. In the first centuries of Ottoman Rule, the town declined. It was called Altun Lovech (Golden Lovech). In 1870, the town had 11 thousand inhabitants. As early as in 1839, the struggle for an independent Bulgarian church began here. The first schools were opened in 1846-1847 and one of the first teachers here was the people's poet and writer Petko R. Slaveikov. In 1870, a chitalishte (community cultural centre and reading-room) was established here and two years later, the first theatrical performance was held under the guidance of Angel Kunchev. There was an old covered wooden bridge over the Osum River but the river carried it away in 1872. Only 2 years after that the self-studied master of genius artisan master usta Kolyu Ficheto built up his famous covered bridge with 24 small workshops in it. Unfortunately, it was burned to ashes by a fire in 1925. The present (unique in the country) covered bridge was built up on the analogy of it. During the years of the national liberation movement Lovech turned into the revolutionary capital of Bulgaria. In 1869, Vassil Levski laid the foundations of the local revolutionary committee and in the following year, he pointed Lovech as a centre of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation. It was from here on that all the country started and they raised the Bulgarian people in battle for national independence. After the Liberation, again and slaughtered over 2500 Bulgarians in the town and in its surroundings. The town was finally liberated on 3rd September 1877 by the units of Gen. Imeretinski, Gen. Skobelev, and Gen. Dobrovolski. Its freedom was won at the price of 1683 Russian victims. After the Liberation, Lovech last the markets in the Ottoman Empire. The construction of the railway line Levski - Lovech (1932) and its extension to Troyan (1948) gave an impetus in the development of the town. For the last few years the town has established itself as a big cultural and tourist centre.

Landmarks. Varosha Architecture-Historical Reserve - the old quarter of the town, amphitheatrically situated along the right bank of the Osum River. Over 160 houses of the characteristic Revival architecture were restored in it. The houses along the street leading to the Stratesh Park are particularly outlined. The following places of interest are located in the Varosha quarter: The Revival and the National Liberation Movement Museum also known as Vassil Levski Museum (14, Marin Pop Loukanov), which is located in a special building constructed on the place where the house of Levski's follower Marin Pop Lukanov was. The old square with the monument to Todor Kirkov (an outstanding national revolutionary from Lovech hanged by the Turks in 1876) is situated along the river. The house-museum of Ivan Drassov - a follower and councellor of Levski(Marin Pop Lukanov Street). Cheshneto House. Rasho's House. The Hristo Tsonev-Latinetsa House-Museum, owner of Kukrinsko Hanche (Kukrina's Inn). His house gave shelter to Vassil Levski. The Art Gallery (9, Vassil Levski Street). The famous Pokritiyat Most (covered bridge) (built by Usta Kolyu Ficheto) links Varosha with the remaining part of the town. It is a pedestrian area with shops on both sides. The ancient Holy Virgin Church. The monument to Vassil Levski (above the southern end of the town). The white and the black monuments are dedicated to the Russian liberators of Lovech (in the Stratesh Park). It is a real pleasure to walk along the little, steep and narrow streets of old Varosh. The Stratesh Park - in the eastern part, on the right bank of the Ossum River, is a wonderful place for recreation, located in a picturesque countryside with a well-developed tourist infrastructure and a zoo. There are many monuments and ruins of a Medieval Bulgarian fortress. The park is also known as the Lilac Park due to the great number of this vegetative species attracting thousands of admirers of its tender blossoms and irresistible fragrance. Lilac Days of Music are held in Lovech during May every year.

Accommodation. The Lovech Hotel (12, Turgovska Street). The Orbita-2 Hotel (2-star, in the Varosha Quarter). The Hissarya Hotel (51, Turgovska Street). Stratesh Tourist House (in the Stratesh Park, 66 beds in two suites and rooms with 2 and 3 beds). Bash Bounar Tourist Hostel (a 30-minute walk from the centre into the direction of Troyan, in the Presechena Skala area, it may be reached with the town transport, too and a 10-minutes walk, 74 beds in rooms with 3, 4 and more beds).

Tourist information - In the Council on Tourism (5500 Lovech, 51, Turgovska Street, at Hissarya Hotel, room No. 105). In the Stratesh Tourist Association (10, Prof. Ishirkov Street, tel.: 068 24663). At the hotels, at the tourist house and at the tourist hostel.

Transport. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Pleven, Troyan, Teteven, Gabrovo, Turnovo, and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (tel.: 068 24425, 24475) and the railway station (tel.: 068 24935) are located not far from each other in the western part of the town. Lovech is a transitional station of the railway line Levski - Troyan, linking it to the national railway network. There is a town bus transport functioning in Lovech.

Surrounding areas. The Bash Bounar Park is located in the immediate proximity of the town, on the way out to Troyan. There are a lot of small and big caves in the rocky banks of the Ossum River. Bones and tools from the Paleolithic period and the Bronze Era were found in two of them - Vassil Levski Cave and the Tabashka Cave. One can get to the park on foot from the centre of the town in less than an hour. There is a town bus, too. In the village of tefanovo, 20 km southeast from Lovech and 27 km northeast from Troyan is the village of Staro Stefanovo Architecture Reserve (the only one on the territory of the region) with over 100 monuments of culture from the beginning and the middle of the 19th century. The first written information dates back to 1515 from the registers of Nikopol district when the village was called Isvote. Other sources are the taxation records (1624) and Voinugan lists from the beginning of the 18th century. Preserved as an entire ethnographical complex, the village of Stefanovo (until 1949 - Vratsa) during the Ottoman Rule enjoyed the status of a soldiers' and dervishko (Turkish monks) village. It is one of the oldest settlements in the Lovech district with a proven ancient Bulgarian origin. Sites of interest are also the Birth of the Holy Virgin Church built in 1864 by Usta (Master) Gencho Kunchev from Tryavna; Selskata Cheshma (the village drinking fountain) (1830); Popovoto Bridge (1824) built by Master Marin Hristov from Lovech; the old Tser (Oak tree) - over 1300 years old - around which were the grounds for spiritual services. The first school was set up in 1854 in the house of Priest David - Father Superior in the Troyan Monastery up to 1906, follower and a courier of the Apostle Vassil Levski. In 1870, a secret revolutionary committee was founded and often the Apostle and Priest Matei Preobrazhenski - Mitkaloto (the Wanderer) visited the village. A native rebel is Ivanaki Yonkov Kyurkchiyata Vrachancheto, who was among the leaders of the Velchova Zavera (Velcho's Conspiracy against the Ottoman Rule), hung by the Turks in 1836. In the village there is a tourist hostel offering 20 beds. Private lodgings are available at the Dzhurov's, Georgiev's and Hadzhi Minkov's houses, the last one hosting a rich private ethnographic exhibition. In the area, there is an ancient Roman fortress - Kaleto and some Thracian mounds. The village is a favourite place for shooting film productions for its preserved distinctive spirit and architecture. There is a regular bus from Lovech. The Kukrinsko Hanche (Kukrina's Inn) Museum is located in the village of Kukrina, at the distance of 17 km to the east of Lovech. After the treachery of Pop Krustyo (Krustyo Priest), on 26th December 1872 the Apostle of Bulgarian Freedom Vassil Levski was captured here.

Pleven (top)
Intro:
The town of Pleven (122149 inhabitants; about 150 meters above sea level) is located in the central part of the Danubian Plain, past the Vit River.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 174 km to the northeast of Sofia, 35 km to the north of Lovech, 53 km and 49 km to the north-east of Cherven Bryag and Lukovit, respectively, 146 km to the south-west of Rousse, 55 km to the south-west of Nikopol, 49 km to the west of Levski and at the distance of 76 km to the south-east of Oryahovo. It is a town-pantheon. It is a regional administrative centre.

History. Pleven has centuries old and rich in events history. It originated in Thracian times on the place of today's park of Kailuka and it was named Storgoziya, which name was preserved in Roman times as well. After its destruction by the barbarians, the Slavs rebuilt it under the name of Kamenets. A second settlement was set up to the north of it, which was named Pleven (from "plevel" which means weed). Later on the two settlements united and they were first mentioned under the name of Pleven in 1266 when the Magyars occupied it. After the 12th century, the town developed as an artisan and trade centre. The town put up a ferocious resistance to the Turkish invaders and that is the reason for its being destroyed and for its population being slaughtered, expelled and converted to Islam after its downfall. In 1596 Pleven was conquered and set on fire by the Wallachian Voivoda Mihail Vityaz (Hrabri) (the Courageous). During the 17th and the 18th centuries, the Bulgarian population in the town grew in number, took the trade and crafts in their own hands, and started to develop its cultural life as well. The town became famous on the Balkan Peninsula and in Anatolia for its market of cattle and sheep (as of 1842). In 1825 a Bulgarian secular school was opened there, in 1840 - the first Bulgarian girls' school was opened by Anastassia Dimitrova and a year later a new boy’s school was opened. In 1834, the St. Nikolai Church was built and in 1845, its iconostasis was made. Dirnitur Dospevski and Nikola Obrazopissetsa (the Image Painter) painted the icons. In 1869, a chitalishte (cultural centre and reading-club) was founded in the town, too. In 1871 Pleven had 3101 houses with the population of 17 000 people. On 6th May 1869 Levski set up the first secret revolutionary committee here. The citizens of Pleven took part in the detachments of armed volunteers of Philip Totyu and Hristo Botev. Pleven became famous most of all with the events, which took place during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878). After the forcing of the Danube River by the Russian troops, their Western squadron headed to that town of strategic importance. The Turkish commandment on its part dislocated the whole garrison of the Vidin Fortress here headed by Osman Pasha, in command of a 40-thousand people army. A system of defencive facilities was built up around Pleven. The Russian forces under the command of Gen. Shouldner, consisting of 7000 people, carried out the first assault of Pleven on 18th June 1877. It was not a success. There were more than 2400 people killed and wounded (against 2000 on the part of the enemy). The second assault was held on 30th July and despite the numerous victims (over 7000 people killed wounded) was not a success, either. On 11th and 12th September a 100-thousand Russian-Romanian army carried out the third assault orientated at the town. This battle cannot be equalled to any other during the whole war in relation to its large scale and bloodshed. The units of Gen. Skobelev managed to perform a break-through at the Green Hills but the Chief Russian Headquarters did not appreciate the situation well enough and ordered a retreat... 16 000 people killed and wounded on the part of the Russians and the Romanians during the two-day not abating battles. The outstanding military engineer Gen. Totleben arrived promptly from Russia to organize the blockade of the town. In execution of the blockade related plan, Gen. Gourko conquered the villages located by the road to Sofia - Dolni Dubnik, Gorni Dubnik and Telish, and the knot around the town got tight. Staring from the end of October Russians and Romanians gradually built up a fortifying blockade line. At the beginning of December, it reached 50 km. At the same time, the situation of the Turkish Army was deteriorated due to hunger, diseases and cold. It was completely isolated, the essential merit for this belonging to the epic battles for defence of the Shipka Pass. There Bulgarians and Russians at the expense of incredible sacrifices and with unseen courage and selflessness stopped the 45-thousand army of Suleiman Pasha heading towards Pleven and did not allow them pass through the Balkan Mountain. On 10th December 1877 Osman Pasha made a desperate attempt to breakthrough the blockade in the region of the Vit River, but suffered a complete defeat and Pleven fell after 5 months of defence at the expense of incredible efforts. The town quickly grew up after the Liberation. The newly built railway lines Sofia - Varna (Rousse) and Pleven (Yassen) - Somovit -Cherkovitsa greatly contributed to it. Today Pleven is the 7th biggest town in Bulgaria.

Landmarks. Almost all landmarks are related to the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. About 200 monuments remind to the generations about the most sanguinary battles, which took place here. In the centre of the town there is a Mausoleum-Charnel House dedicated to the Russian and Romanian soldiers killed during the war (5, Vuzrazhdane Square, tel.: 064 30033). It was solemnly opened on 16th September 1907 in the presence of General Stoletov (the Commanding Officer of the Bulgarian volunteer forces). The architect of this outstanding monument is Pencho Koichev, and Prof. Ivan Truvnishki made the wood-carved lime-tree iconostasis. The iconostasis was highly acknowledged at the Paris exposition in 1906. Prof. Mrkvichka and Prof. A. Mitov painted the icons. The Mausoleum is 24 m high. The Museum to the Liberation of Pleven is not far from there (157, V. Levski Street, tel.: 064 22435). The Skobelev Park was built up in the southwestern part of the town, on a low hill (in the place of the old-time redoubts Isa aga and Kovanluka). Bratskata Mogila (common grave) (which preserves the bones of thousands Russian soldiers) as well as a lot of militant relics of that time is situated among its greenery and lanes. The renowned Pleven Epic 1877 Panorama is situated at the top of the hill, too, created in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Pleven Epic on analogy of the Borodin Panorama in Moscow. Through its original combination of artistic paintings, sculpture, authentic articles and explanatory texts, it provides for a sufficiently clear idea of the development of the events, especially those related to the third assault of the town. The Kovanluk second redoubt and the Murtvata Dolina (Death Valley) where over 6000 Russian and Romanian soldiers found their death are situated not far from the Skobelev Park. The Totleben rampart in Kailuka. The Monument to Victory rises on the high hill past the Vit River, and the bridge of the river where the white flag of the defeated Osman Pasha waved is under it. The Town Museum of History (3, Stoyan Zaimov Street) is situated in the green zone on the left bank of the Touchenitsa River, not far from the centre. The remarkable monument to the citizens of Pleven who died in the Serbian - Bulgarian War of 1885 is situated in the small garden opposite it. Museum of the Hunters' and Fishermen's Society (15-17, D. Popov Blvd.). The Town Art Gallery (75, Doiran Blvd, tel.: 064 38342). Iliya Beshkov Art Gallery (at the beginning of the steps leading to the Skobelev Park, 1, Gen. Skobelev Blvd.). There are two theatres in Pleven -Theatre of Drama (155, Vassil Levski Street, tel.: 064 34376, 22087) and the Puppet Theatre (14, Tsar Simeon Street, tel.: 064 24121, 28807). The unique of its kind Kailuka Park is situated in the immediate proximity of the town on the south in the valley of the Tuchenitsa River. Sheer rocks, over 20 meters high (here rock climbing races are held), exuberant vegetation, lakes, swimming pools, lanes, recreation corners, sports playgrounds, the eccentric Peshtera (Cave) Restaurant and another tourist infrastructure make it a favourite place for the citizens of Pleven and the visitors of the town.

Accommodation: The Pleven Hotel, 2 Republica Square). The Rostov Hotel (2, Osvobozhdenie Street). The Balkan Hotel (68, Pousse Blvd.). Garrison Military Club (77, Doiran Street). Kailuka Tourist House (at the beginning of Kailuka Park). It offers 70 beds in 5 suites and in 2-, 3-, and 4-bed rooms.

Tourist information - at the Council on Tourism (5800 Pleven, 2, Vuzrazhdane Square, Municipality of Pleven, tel.: 064 24119, 26229). At Kailushka Dolina Tourist Association (23A, D. Konstantinov Street). At the hotels.

Transport. Pleven is a big transport centre. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Veliko Turnovo, Lovech, Troyan, Cherven Bryag, Levski, Knezha and many other big and small settlements. The Central Bus Station (Republica Square, tel.: 064 22961) and the Central Railway Station (6, Republica Square) are situated next to each other and are located in the northern end of the town. Pleven is situated on the main railway line Sofia - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Varna (Rousse), and the local railway line for Somovit and Cherkovitsa starts from it, too. There is a town bus and trolley bus transport functioning in Pleven.

Surrounding areas. The village of Grivitsa, a railway station on the railway line Sofia - Varna (Rousse) is situated at the distance of 6 km to the east of the town. During the War of Liberation sanguinary battles between Russians and Romanians on the one hand and the Turks, in defence of Pleven took place within the region of the village. A mausoleum in memory of the Romanian soldiers killed here was built in the village after the liberation. It is located amongst 3 spacious park with a lot of monuments and a common grave. One can go there from the town by a passenger train or by bus. The town of Pordim is situated at the distance of 21 km to the east of Pleven. The General Headquarters of the Russian Army and of Emperor Alexander II was located here during the War of Liberation. There is another museum - Romanian Soldier 1877-1878, set up in the immediate proximity of a little house (preserved in its original appearance up to date) which accommodated the Headquarters of the Romanian units during the siege of Pleven. Pordim is also a station on the Sofia - Varna (Rousse) railway line. There is regular bus transport. A green zone was arranged around Pleven of about 25 thousand decares, including the parks of Kailuka, General Lavrov, General Genetski, Grivitsa and others, which, serve as a filter against air pollution as well. The village of Vulchitrun is situated at the distance of 22 km southeast of Pleven, in which the Vulchitrun gold treasure was found in 1924 - a priceless monument of the late Bronze Era in our country. It is preserved in the National Museum of History in Sofia. There is a regular bus transport to the village both from the town and from Pordim. The town of Dolni Dubnik - a town at the distance of 15 km to the west of Pleven with many monuments from Pleven Epic. It is the greatest oil filed deposit in Bulgaria; natural gas is yielded here, too. The three dams in its surroundings are a favourite place for recreation, water motor sports, water tourism, and fishing. It is a station at the railway line of Sofia - Varna (Rousse). There are bus connections with Pleven. The village of Gorni Dubnik (at the distance of 23 km to the west of Pleven), also a station at the railway line of Sofia - Varna (Rousse). Great battles during the War of Liberation took place here, too. The General V. N. Lavrov Park-Museum is located in the proximity of the village in the area connected with one of the most important moments related to the siege of Pleven. Many Russian soldiers headed by the regimental commander Lavrov found their death here. Today, there are lots of monuments and common graves reminding of those dramatic days when Bulgarian freedom was born. In addition to railway transport, it can be reached by bus, too.

Nikopol (top)
Intro:
The town of Nikopol (5108 inhabitants; at about 100 meters above sea level) is amphitheatrically situated along the slopes of several hills, on the high right bank of the Danube River, at the distance of 3 km to the east of the mouth of the Ossum River.

Full text:
It is situated 229 km to the northeast of Sofia, 95 km to the east of Oriahovo, 55 km to the northeast of Pleven, 51 km to the north-west of Svishtov, 25 km to the northeast of Gulyantsi and 6 km to the east of the railway station of Cherkovitsa. It is the smallest Bulgarian town situated along the Danube River.

History. Independently of its small size today, Nikopol has a long and interesting past. It is the successor of the antique settlements of Sekouristka (the remains are by the road between Nikopol and Cherkovitsa) and Nikopolis (town of victories). It is thought that the town got its today's name from the Byzantine Emperor Iraklii in honour of the victory over the Persians in 639. The Roman - Byzantine fortress of Tourissa on the opposite Danubian bank, together with Nikopol, were expanded after the 7th century by the Bulgarians, Tourissa being called Little Nikopol and Holuvnik. Today, it is the Romanian town of Turnu Mugurele. Nikopol was the last strong, hold of the Turnovo Kingdom, defended by Tsar Ivan Shishman. He died here in an unequal battle with the Turkish invaders. The Turks called it Kyuchuk Stamboul (Little Tsarigrad) and preserved it as a port and an important military, administrative and trade centre on the Danube River. The town was a powerful fortress for centuries and the battle of the Polish King Vladislav Varnenchik and the Magyar King Sigismund with the Turks was held here. During the 18th century, Nikopol was the biggest town and fortress along the lower Danube River. The Turkish traveller Evliya Chelebi wrote that there were 16 drinking fountains and two kaleta (fortresses) in the town - Tuna Kale and Pech Kale. There were barracks for 20 000 nizami (regular soldiers). The town had a completely Oriental appearance. As of 1860, Nikopol was a river station of Austrian ships as well. After the Liberation, thanks to its natural and historical endowments, the town turned more and more into a tourist site.

Landmarks. The drinking fountain of Elia (Syutliika), built up during the 2nd century by the ordinary citizen of Rome Frontona in memory of his early deceased wife Elia, who gave vent to his grief in verse over the stone. During the 19th century archaeologist, Dijardin, moved by all that, placed another inscription. A nice lane takes us to the fountain nowadays. Shishman's fortress - remains from the fortress, defended by the last Bulgarian Tsar before the Turkish invasion - Ivan Shishman. One of the gates to the fortress, called Shishman's Gate, is very well preserved. The old St. St. Peter and Pavel Church dates back to the 13th century. The house in which Vassil Levski was hiding during his visit to the town on the way to Romania is preserved, too. In the house of Tsvyatko Smolyanov one can see the epitaph of the author of "Abagar" (the first printed book in the Cyrillic alphabet published in Rome in 1651) - the Catholic Bishop Philip Stanislavovitch who died in 1654.

Accommodation: The Town Hotel. Nikopol Camping (in Shishman Park, at the distance of 4 km from the town). It has 52 beds available in 9 bungalows with 4 beds each and 2 vans with two rooms, 4 beds in each room.

Tourist information - at the town hotel and in the Danube Tourist Association (tel.: 0651 2616). Such information may be obtained in the Town hall as well (situated in the centre of Nikopol).

Transport. There are regular bus lines to Pleven, Svishtov, Guliantsi and other smaller settlements within the region. The station of Cherkovitsa is situated at the distance of about 6 km to the west of Nikopol and it is the last station on the line of Pleven (Yassen) - Somovit - Cherkovitsa. There is a regular bus transport from the town to it. Nikopol has a river port on the Danube River as well but for the time being there are no regular passenger's transportations along the Danube River on the Bulgarian part.

Surrounding areas. At the distance of 0.5 km east of the town (past the Fishermen's Base), on the bank of the Danube River there are remains of an old rock monastery. The ruins of the ancient settlement of Sekufistka are situated past the road to the village of Cherkovitsa. The regular buses in this direction may be used. The Danube River within the region of Nikopol provides Breat opportunities for recreation, sunbathing, sports activities, water tourism, fishing, etc. Shishman Park is situated at the distance of 4 km from the town, on the bank river in a well-preserved countryside. There is a camping site as well.

Svishtov (top)
Intro:
The town of Svishtov (30 591 inhabitants; about 100 meters above sea level) is situated at a high terrace on the right bank of the Danube River, in the place where the river reaches its most southern point.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 250 km north-east from Sofia, 51 km southeast from Nikopol, 97 km south-west from Rousse, 76 km north-east from Pleven, 45 km north-west from Byala, 47 km north-east from Levski and 31 km east from Belene.

History. The town is a successor of the Roman (and later on of the Early Byzantine) town of Nove (1st century) - an important strategic centre with naval functions. During the Middle Ages it was called Stuklen, and in the map of Fra Maura of 1459 it was marked under the name of Sistovo, which is the transcription of today's name of the town. Svishtov comes from "svesht" (candle). During the first centuries of the Ottoman Rule, there were several huts here, which lit up with fires along the riverbanks to light the way of boats and sailing-vessels during nighttime. Gradually the future town of Svishtov was formed around them. The town reached an enviable development during the 19th century in spite of its complete destruction during the Russian-Turkish War of 1810. In 1865, Dr. Ivan Bogorov described Svishtov as "the most commercial place" of our towns. In 1869, there were 957 stores and 720 warehouses there. The first high school of commerce in Bulgaria was established in Svishtov (1873). The well-known traveller of 19th century Felix Kanits wrote: "Svishtov has been enjoying the reputation of a European town with a European market for a long time." Within the time period from 1850 to 1860 in the port of Svishtov there were about 150 vessels sailing along the Danube with water displacement of 120 000 tons, a part of which belonged to Svishtov merchants. In 1867, the Danubian Steam Society was established with the merchant from Svishtov Nikola Stanchov as the chief shareholder. The Society purchased the Austrian-Hungarian ship "Commencement" and three tank barges for transportation of cereals. The tangible welfare of the town was reflected in its cultural life as well. In 1841, Hristaki Pavlovich established a new Bulgarian school and a secular school for girls. One of the first in Bulgaria chitalishta (reading-clubs) with a museum with it was set up here in 1856. In 1884, the first in Bulgaria Commercial High School opened its gates (today's High School of Economy). The outstanding Revival public figures Nikolai Pavlovich, Emanuil Vaskidovich, Hristaki Pavlovich and many other eminent functionaries worked here as well. Schools, churches, beautiful houses were built in these years. On 26th and 27th June 1877 the key forces of the Russian Army disembarked on the bank of the Danube River in the locality of Tekirdere (at the distance of 4 km east of Svishtov) and the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation began. Although the Turks did not anticipate the crossing of the Danube River by the main Russian units to take place namely here, they put up ferocious resistance and it was in the first battle for Bulgarian freedom that 814 Russian soldiers and officers found their death. The town lost its initial first-grade significance after the Liberation, but it remained an important economic, cultural centre and grew as a tourist centre as well. Since 1936 Svishtov has been an academic town, too in relation to the opening of the Higher Institute of Finance and Economics "Dimitur Tsenov" (in the name of an outstanding Bulgarian patron). Svishtov is the birthplace of Dragan Tsankov, Grigor Nachevich, Nikolai Pavlovich, Dimitur Tsenov, Alexander Bozhinov, Tsvetan Radoslavov (author of the song, on the basis of which "Mila Rodino" ("Dear Motherland") - Bulgarian national anthem was composed) and of the great Bulgarian writer - humorist, democrat and creator of the organized hiking movement in our country - Aleko Konstantinov.

Landmarks: In Svishtov there are more than 120 archaeological, art and architectural monuments of culture of local and national significance. The Town Museum of History (tel.: 0631 22888), considered one of the oldest museums in Bulgaria (1856). The Ethnographic Museum. The Aleko Konstantinov House-Museum (not far from the centre), in which the heart of the great Bulgarian is preserved in a glass vessel. The Holy Trinity Church (1867, in the centre of the town) is the most interesting architectural monument. It was the work of the great Bulgarian builder of the Revival period usta Koliu Ficheto ("usta" -master). The citizen of Svishtov Nikolai Pavlovich painted the icons. The temple suffered a lot during the earthquake in 1977 but in 1992, its restoration was completed. The ancient St. Dimitur Church (1640) and St. St. Peter and Pavel Church (1644). Bulgarian masters erected the clock tower (1760, in the centre of the town). The School of Hristaki Pavlovich (1815). The House of Peace, in which in 1791 an Austrian-Turkish Separation Peace Treaty was signed. The old Revival houses -Sladkarov's, Danailov's, Hrulev's, Bruchkov's, Cherkezov's, Radoslavov's, the house of the Subevs Brothers, etc.

Accommodation: The Academia Hotel (1, Tsanko Tserkovski Street). The Dunav Hotel (2, Tsar Osvoboditel Street). Kaleto Tourist Hostel (in Kaleto Park, 2,1 Panteleev Street). It offers 26 beds in double rooms, a restaurant, a bar and a coffee bar. Yug Complex. Kirilov Hotel. Sviloza Hotel. Emili Hotel.

Tourist information - can be obtained at the hotels, at the Tourist Hostel and at Aleko Konstantinov Tourist Association (21, D. Shishmanov Street).

Transport. Bus and railway transport. There are regular bus lines to Rousse, Pleven, Veliko Tumovo, Lovech, Byala, Levski and other smaller settlements within the region. The telephone of the bus station is 0631 23205. Svishtov is the last station of the railway line Levski - Svishtov (Belene), through which it is connected to the national railway network. There is a river station, as well but since 1992, there is no regular passenger transport along the Danube River on the Bulgarian part. There is a town bus transport functioning in Svishtov, too.

Surrounding areas. The Pametnitsite Park (the Monuments) is situated at the distance of 4 km east of the town in the locality of Tekirdere. The Russian-Turkish War of Liberation began here and in the place where the Russian troops disembarked a big commemorative park with white marble and granite monuments, military attributes of that time, was created. Now there are public catering establishments, a beach among a lot of greenery and regular town transport. The remains of the ancient town of Nove (1st century) and the Medieval town of Stuklen are located in the immediate proximity, at the distance of 1 km east in the Kaleto area, to the right above the road to the Pametnitsite Park.Several buildings with interesting architecture, town gates and others were found and investigated. A museum was set up and functions here as well. The town bus to the Pametnitsite Park may be used. Pisanite Kamuni (Inscribed Stones) - an area 2 km east of Svishtov, where articles and tools of the early Paleolithic period were found. The Danubian island of Vardim is situated at about some 10 km east of the town, which is the third biggest Bulgarian island (after Belene and Kozlodui). It was declared a natural reserve due to the birds' colonies of great cormorants, herons and others. The well-known Vardim oak tree grows here, too. There is a white stone monument marking the place where on 18th June 1868 the detachment of armed volunteers of Hadzhi Dimitur and Stefan Karadzha disembarked from the gemiya (the sailing-vessel) on the native bank to write down another heroic page in Bulgarian history. It is situated at the distance of about 20 km east of Svishtov in the Yankovo Gurlo area (near the mouth of the Yantra River in the Danube River). It was also near the mouth of the Yantra River, in the proximity of the village of Krivina that Bulgarian and German archaeologists found the ruins of the Limmes Kastel (fortress) of Yatrus. There is a regular bus transport to the village.


Pavlikeni (top)
Intro:
The town of Pavlikeni (about 14 000 inhabitants; 115 meters above sea level) is situated in the central part of the Danubian Plain, at a distance of about 4 km north of the Rositsa River.

Full text:
It 230 km northeast of Sofia, 43 km north-west of Veliko Turnovo, 22 km south-east of Levski, about 40 km north-east of Sevlievo and about 50 km south-west of Byala.

History. Emigrant Paulicians who had come from Southern Bulgaria during the Middle Ages founded the town. They were followers of a religious heresy, which originated in Western Armenia during the 7th century. The settlement figured under the name of Balvikian or Pavlikian in documents of 1430. During the Liberation (1878), it was a small village. After the building up of the railway, line Sofia-Varna (1899) it developed as a handicraft and trade settlement. In 1943, it was proclaimed a town. Part of the population of the town professes the Catholic religion.

Landmarks: The Art Gallery (in the central part of the town, 1, Bacho Kiro Street, tel.: 0610 7149). The Zoo (in the southern end of the town, 75, 3rd March Blvd.).

Accommodation: The Poltava Hotel (in the centre of the town, 2, Svoboda Square). There are nice public catering establishments, too, which offer typical Bulgarian cuisine. One of them is the Strandzhata Restaurant (1, Al. Stamboliiski Street, working hours: 6.00 a.m. - 11.00 p.m.).

Tourist information - at the hotel or in the town hall (4, Ruski Blvd., tel.: 0610 3580, 6195, 3526).

Transport. Bus and railway transport links the town. There are regular bus lines to Veliko Turnovo, Lovech, Pleven, Sevlievo, Levski, Polski Trumbezh, Suhindol, Byala Cherkva and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (32, 3rd March Blvd) and the railway station are next to each other and they are situated in the southwestern part of Pavlikeni. The town is a station at the main railway line Sofia - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Varna (Rousse).

Surrounding areas. A ceramic centre (of 2nd -3rd centuries) is found to the north-west of the town in the Vurbovski Livadi area (Willow Meadows) with a great number of pottery workshops and furnaces for the production of artistic, construction and everyday ceramics, and near it there is a country-house of a Thracian landowner with a lot of agricultural tools. The village of Gorna Stoudena is situated at the distance of 24 km to the north of the town, past the road Pleven - Rousse. There is a military-historical museum arranged in the building where the General Headquarters of the Russian Emperor Alexander II was located for some time during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. An old Russian cemetery is preserved in the northern part of the village. The small town of Byala Cherkva is situated at the distance of 4 km to the south of Pavlikeni. The town is birthplace of the hero of the April Uprising, the teacher Bacho Kiro, who set up the first chitalishte (community cultural centre) in a village in Bulgaria Selska Lyubov (Rural love) in 1869 and who led out 101 rebels from Byala Cherkva only during May 1876. The whole detachment of armed volunteers (over 200 people) under the leadership of Pop (Priest) Hariton, Peter Parmakov, Hristo Karaminkov and Bacho Kiro was defeated at the Dryanovo Monastery after a siege, which lasted for about 10 days. The people's teacher, enlightener, poet and traveller Bacho Kiro was hung in Turnovo on 28th May 1876. In the town, there is a monument to those who were killed in the Uprising as well as monuments to Bacho Kiro and Tsanko Tserkovski who was also born here. The famous Bulgarian Prof. Alexander Burmov was born in Byala Cherkva, too. A monument-belfry was built in 1929 next to the old white church St. Dimitur, in which there are built-in columns of the antique Nikopolis ad Istrum in honour of the Russian liberators. There is a town museum and a house museum of Tsanko Tserkovski. St. Yoan Monastery was situated at the distance of 4 km south-west of Byala Cherkva which was destroyed by the Turks during the Turnovo Uprising (1598) in which the local population also actively participated. There is a regular bus transport from Pavlikeni to the town as well as from Veliko Turnovo and Sevlievo. The town of Souhindol is situated at the distance of 14 km south-west of Pavlikeni - a big vine-growing and wine-producing centre. The prominent Hungarian traveller, scientist and artist Felix Kanits visited the old settlement in 1872. It was as early as in 1897 when its population used vine sprinklers and grapevines imported from France. In the eve of the Liberation as well as after it, Suhindol was a big cultural centre for its time. The community centre dates back to 1870 and the clock tower dates back to 1895. Newspapers were published here, too. In 1908, the first independent vine-growing and wine-producing co-operative company in Bulgaria was established here - Gumza. Nowadays, there is a great demand for the red Suhindol Gumsa on the international market, too and it is one of the best-sold Bulgarian wines. There is a museum and an art gallery in the town. The picture "Suhindol Maiden" painted by Felix Kanits in 1872 is preserved and exhibited in the art gallery. There is a regular bus connection between Pavlikeni and Suhindol. The Emenski Canyon and the Momin Skok (Maiden Jump) Waterfall declared as natural sights are situated at the distance of 16-17 km south-west of Pavlikeni, on the Negovanka River. There is a regular bus to the village of Emen.

Sevlievo (top)
Intro:
The town of Sevlievo (about 25 000 inhabitants; 200 meters above sea level) is situated in the mountain valley of the same name, along the left bank of the Rossitsa River, a little after its spillway with the Vidima River.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 190 km north-east of the capital city, 28 km north-west of Gabrovo, 50 km west of Veliko Turnovo, 37 km south-east of Lovech, 47 km north-east of Troyan, 40 km south-west of Pavlikeni and 41 km north-east of Apriltsi.

History. The settlement emerged in the 15th century as a village producing timber boards but it is likely that it had existed before that, too (10th-12th centuries). It was mentioned under the name of Selvi for the first time in 1618, where its present name comes from (it is related to the surrounding vegetation). It was completely devastated and put to fire by the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) in 1798. The settlement recovered comparatively quickly as an administrative centre with a well-developed artisanship - woodworking, leather processing and tailoring, weaving. There was a well-known cattle market here, too but it was the silkworm breeding and the silk-trade that brought the greatest glory to the town and made it famous. There was a great demand for silkworm seed and silk from Sevlievo in Austria, France, and Romania. The population of the town was affected by the great plague in 1838. The town did not neglect its cultural development, either. A community centre was founded there (1870) by Dr. Stoicho Zografski, schools, churches, a clock tower (1777), beautiful houses and bridges were built as well. Petko R. Slaveikov and Martin Sofroniev were teachers here. Hadzhi Angel Ivanov translated the text of church hymns into the language of Slavs and Bulgarians and the Priest Pencho Nestorov translated the Gospel into the Bulgarian language. After the Liberation, the town at first declined as an artisanship centre but quickly developed after that.

Landmarks: The Town Museum of History located in the building of the first secular (Hadzhi Stoyanov's) school (in the centre of the town, 6, Petko R. Slaveikov Street), built in 1844, where P. R. Slaveikov was a teacher for a short time. The clock tower (in the centre of the town) built by Bulgarian builder masters (1877-1879) of stone, bricks, mortar and wood. It has an original architectural appearance and is 18 m high. St. Prophet Iliya Church (in the centre of the town, 12, Skobelev Street, tel.: 0675 3296), built up in 1834 and having a valuable wood-carved iconostasis. The Holy Trinity Church (in the centre of the town, 12, Sv. Troitsa Street) of 1870. The stone bridge over the Rossitsa River built by Master Kolyu Ficheto during 1857-1858 and restored after the flood in 1939. The Monument to Freedom (in the centre of the town) was erected in 1894 and was designed by Otto Horeishi and Arnoldo Zocci (Italian sculptor, author of monuments in Sofia, Rousse, Oriahovo). The pillar of the monument is an original stone column from the Roman town of Nikopolis ad Istrum (beside the village of Nikyup, Turmovo region), and the figure was made in Vienna. The gallows on which the revolutionaries from Sevlievo were hanged in 1876 was in the place of today's monument. Tabahanata (tannery) - restored and open to visitors.

Accommodation: The Rossitsa Hotel (1, Svoboda Square, in the centre of the town). There are several public catering establishments, which serve delicious traditional cuisine. Here are two of them: the Royal Restaurant (in the centre of the town, 10, Slavianska Street, working hours: 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.) and the Loven Dom Restaurant (on the right bank of Rossitsa River, to the south of the stadium).

Tourist information - at the hotel and at the Rositsa-Mazalat Tourist Association (34, Iv. Presnakov Street, tel.: 0675 3005, 3004).

Transport. Bus transport provides regular connections with Sofia, Gabrovo, Veliko Turnovo, Lovech, Pleven, Troyan, Apriltsi, Pavlikeni and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (Stoyan Buchvarov Street) is situated in the western part of the town.

Surrounding areas. The Monument to Father Matei Preobrazhenski (1926) is situated about 30 km on the east by the Sofia - Varna road, between the villages of Novo Selo and Balvan, which was built in memory of the outstanding Revival enlightener and revolutionary, follower and friend of Levski, also called Mitkaloto (the Wanderer), who was born in Novo Selo. There is a monument to Father Matei in front of the museum (author Nenko Nenkov). All the buses running between Sevlievo and Veliko Turnovo can be used to get there. Baagdalata Park (10 km southeast of the town, the detour is at the 7th km along the old road to Gabrovo). The Momina Suiza Chalet is located here, too, providing 60 beds in rooms with 2, 4, 6 and 8 beds. There is no regular bus transport. Al. Stamboliiski Dam spreads its waters at about 6 km north from Sevlievo offering wonderful conditions for recreation, water motor sports, water tourism, fishing, sunbathing on the beach. There are holiday homes, public catering establishments and country houses. The regular buses running to the villages of Gradishte, Gorsko Kosovo and Mladen can be used. The Batoshevo Monastery is situated at the distance of 20 km south of the town, past the village of the same name (refer to the town of Apriltsi related section herein).

Gabrovo (top)
Intro:
The town of Gabrovo (67 350 inhabitants; 390 meters above sea level) is situated along the two banks of the Yantra River, at the northern foot of the Shipka Balkan Mountain (Central Stara Planina).

Full text:
It is situated 220 km north-east of Sofia, 274 km south-west of Varna, 150 km north-east of Plovdiv, 46 km south-west of Veliko Turnovo, 48 km north of Kazanluk and 28 km south-east of Sevlievo. It is situated in the immediate proximity of the geographical centre of Bulgaria and is a centre of humour and jokes. A regional administrative centre, too.

History. Gabrovo originated during the Middle Ages as a strategic settlement in the proximity of the Balkan Mountain passes. According to the legend, Racho Kovacha (Racho the Blacksmith) established the settlement, but there is no explicit evidence in support of this statement. At the end of the 12th century due to the proximity of the town to the capital of the Bulgarian state Turnovo, the handcrafts and trade developed here as well as crafts related to the maintenance and guard of the passes through the Balkan mountain - blacksmiths, armour and weapon smiths, etc. The first known name of the settlement dates back to 1430 (already under the Ottoman Rule) - Gabruva, and today's name - Gabrovo appeared as late as the 17th century. The name comes from the hornbeam tree (Carpinus betulus, in Bulgarian "gaber"). During the years of Ottoman Rule Gabrovo was a big artisanship and trade centre. During the 19th century 26 crafts were practiced here - blacksmiths (horseshoes), knives and cutlery, pottery, manufacture of braids, leather processing and tailoring, silkworm breeding and a lot of others. The first manufacturing enterprise Ivan K. Kalpazanov opened in 1860 - a textile factory. In the same year, Gabrovo was proclaimed a town. Felix Kanits said about it that during the 70-es of the 19th century "Gabrovo is a big workshop" and that it is "a town living on water", having in mind the widely used waterpower. The good quality of the Gabrovo made articles was known all over the Ottoman Empire and even beyond it. There is a street in Bucharest now still named "Gabroveni". The quick economic growth and the national revival were the reason for the opening of the first Bulgarian secular school called after the name of its founder - Vassil Aprilov in 1835. In 1872, it grew into a secondary school and in 1889, it was called Aprilov's High School, functioning up to date. Beautiful Revival houses, churches, bridges, drinking fountains, a clock tower (1835) were built then. The inhabitants of the town took an active part in the Uprising of Captain Dyado (Grandfather) Nikola in 1856, in the Turnovo Uprising of 1862, in the detachments of armed volunteers of Hadzhi Dimitur and Stefan Karadzha (1868), of Hristo Botev (1876), of Tsanko Dyustabanov (1876 - completely formed in Gabrovo). In 1868, Levski set up a revolutionary committee here. The town is the birthplace of Vassil Aprilov, Tsanko Dyustabanov, Pop (Priest) Hariton, the composer Emanuil Manolov and a lot of others. Gabrovo continued to develop as the biggest textile centre of Bulgaria after the Liberation and it was not by accident that it was nicknamed "the Bulgarian Manchester". The town has been famous for the stinginess and sharp-wittedness of its inhabitants from time immemorial due to which the unique in the world House of Humour and Satire is located here.

Landmarks: The unique House of Humour and Satire (64, Bryanska Street). Works of authors from 153 countries are exhibited in 10 halls with an area of 8000 square meters. This House not only collects but also investigates and popularises humour and satire in all the genres. Every odd year, the House and the whole town becomes the centre of the International Biennale of Humour and Satire in the Arts, which is a part of the big May Cultural Festivals of Gabrovo. The unique in Southeastern Europe open-air museum - the architectural ethnographic complex of Etara is situated at the distance of 8 km south of the centre of the town in the immediate proximity of the Etara quarter and past the Sivek River (at the distance of 3 km from the road-fork to Shipka). It is the most interesting place of interest in the town and one of the most visited sites all over Bulgaria. Located over an area of 60 decares the complex lives the authentic life of a typical artisanship settlement from the period of Bulgarian Revival. The way Bulgarian people lived 150 years ago can be perceived and felt here. One can hear the rattle of wheels and mills moved by water, the whiz of the mills for woollen cloths and for flour. Metal ornaments, pottery articles, copper utensils, braids, hot buns and whatever else come out from the skillful hands of the masters there. The little cobblestone streets, the stone cheshmi (drinking fountains), the gas lanterns, Sakov's house, the house with the tavern, the clock tower and a lot of other authentic details complete the whole picture. All of these are predominantly the work of the great patriot Lazar Donkov who dedicated his life to this noble cause - to create this authentic ethnographic complex. There is a town bus running to Etara. The Town Museum of History (19, Opulchenska Street, tel.: 066 25218). The National Museum of Education (tel.: 066 24071) and the Aprilov's High School (in the centre of the town), in which many well-known Bulgarians studied (Aleko Konstantinov, Emanuil Manolov and others). Master Gencho Kunev built it at the initiative and with the funds of the rich merchant, enlightener and scholar Vassil Aprilov. The Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery (10, Cyril and Methodius Street) exhibits Bulgarian and foreign works of art. Bayov Bridge built in 1855. The Assumption Church (1865), whose icons and wood-carved iconostasis (work of masters from Tryavna) are among the masterpieces of Bulgarian art. The clock tower (1835, in the centre of the town), whose clockwork was made by local blacksmiths, and its bell was made in Vienna. The cobblestone Opulchenska Street and the old commercial Radetski Street are of interest to the visitors, too. The monument of Racho Kovacha (Racho the Blacksmith) - the legendary founder of the town. It is located on a small rocky island in the Yantra River (the central part of the town). The Aprilov drinking fountain built up in 1762 by Krustio Aprilov, a relative of V. Aprilov. It has 2 drinking-fountain heads and an interesting decoration. The Planetarium and the Zoo are located in the direction of the Gradishte area. Being a big cultural centre, Gabrovo nowadays has 3 professional theatres - the Racho Stoyanov Theatre of Drama (2, Timok Street, tel.: 066 26722), The Puppet Theatre (11, Cyril and Methodius Street, tel.: 066 29051) and the Experimental Theatre of Satire and Variety (64, Brianska Street, tel.: 066 26594). Every year during August a Balkan youth festival is held in Gabrovo called Youth on the Balkans and at the end of September - the beginning of October the town hosts the Days of Chamber Music. Gabrovo is a university centre, too -the Higher Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1963).

Accommodation: The Balkan Hotel (in the centre of the town, 14, Emil Manolov Street). The Panorama Hotel (also in the centre, 18, Benkovska Street). The Corona Hotel (in the Etura Quarter, 27, Grigorovska Street). The Stranopriemnitsa (The Inn) Hotel (in the architectural ethnographic complex of Etura). Private house - White River (in the quarter of Aprilovo).

Tourist information - in the Gabrovo Municipal Tourist Information Bureau (5300 Gabrovo, 2, Vuzrazhdane Square, tel. /fax: 066 28483). The Regional Tourist Bureau is located at the same address (tel. /fax: 066 29161), which can provide information not only about Gabrovo but also about the towns of Teteven, Troyan, Apriltsi and Tryavna, included in Stara Planina Association. Uzana Tourist Society. Chardafon Hunters Society (65A, Svishtovska Street), and at the hotels, too.

Transport. Railway and bus transport. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Veliko Turnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Kazanluk, Troyan, Tryavna, Sevlievo, Apriltsi, the Shipka Pass and a lot of other smaller settlements and recreation zones. The bus station is in the central part of the town (tel.: 066 23277, 25577). Gabrovo is the last station on the railway line of Vurbanovo -Gabrovo, a branch of the main line Russe -Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora - Podkova. All trains stop at Vurbanovo Station and through it, Gabrovo is connected to the national railway network. The telephone number of the railway station is 066 25301. There is a town bus transport, too.

Surrounding areas. One can admire the panoramic view to the town and have a look at the ruins of the old fortress wall in the Gradishte area - at the distance of 3 km from Gabrovo. The Assumption Sokolski Monastery (4 km from Etara and 12 km southeast from the centre of Gabrovo) was built in 1833 with donations by the citizens of Gabrovo and Bulgarians in immigration. Its foundation and activity further on are closely connected to the name of Yossif Sokolski. The Monastery turned into an educational centre and Neofit Bozveli was a teacher there. In 1856, the detachment of armed volunteers of Dyado Nikola found shelter here. After the defeat, eight of the revolutionaries were hanged in the cave by the monastery. The place of these gallows is a charnel house now and the hooks for the ropes are hammered into the wall. Later on (1868) Master Koliu Ficheto erected a stone drinking fountain with eight fountainheads, which slakes the thirst of the exhausted traveller. During the rebellious spring of 1876, the detachment of 220 rebels of Tsanko Dyustabanov was blessed in the monastery before it set off on the way to immortality. Before that, the Apostle Vassil Levski found shelter here, too. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation the monastery was turned into a military hospital. A modest museum collection preserves relics from the struggles for enlightenment and freedom. Old icons painted by the hand of Zakhari Zograf complete the precious exhibits of the museum. There is bus transport available or one can walk to the museum from Etara along a marked track for 1-1.30 hours. The Liuliatsite Resort is situated at the distance of 15 km west of Gabrovo whose name is related to the abundance of lilac within the region. The climate is favourable for treatment of pulmonary diseases. There is a rest house, private and institutional country-houses, catering establishments. A marked hiking track starts from here in the direction of the central ridge of Stara Planina that joins the Kom-Emine route along the Ridge of Stara Planina Mountain. There is a regular bus transport. Uzana Mountain Resort is situated at the distance of 22 km south-west of the town on the ridge of Stara Planina (Shipka Balkan Mountain) - there are institutional holiday houses, several hotels, 3 chalets, a ski-lift, a base of the Mountain Rescue Service, catering establishments. The geographic centre of Bulgaria is located within the region, too and is marked with a memorial sign. There are regular buses during the holidays. The historical Shipka Pass is situated at the distance of 21 km south of Gabrovo and the Monument to Freedom is located above it (refer to the Kazanluk related section herein). The historical Mt. Bouzloudzha is at the distance of 12 km east of the pass (refer to the Kazanlak related section herein). All buses running between Gabrovo and Kazanluk stop at the Shipka Pass and there is no regular transport to Bouzloudzha. The village of Bozhentsi - an architecture and ethnographic reserve is situated 15 km east of Gabrovo (refer to the Tryavna related section herein). Gabrovo is a key point of departure for hiking routes around the Shipka Balkan Mountain (refer to the Stara Planina related chapter herein).

Tryavna (top)
Intro:
The town of Tryavna (12 226 inhabitants 440 meters above sea level) is situated in a small valley expansion of the Tryavna Balkan mountain (Central Stara Planina), along the two banks of the Dryanovska River.

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 242 km north-east of Sofia, 22 km east of Gabrovo, 17 km south of Dryanovo, at 42 km south-west of Veliko Turnovo.. Cradle of the unique in its kind Revival Art School -the Tryavna School.

History. According to the legend, the settlement originated from the 12th century during the reign of the Assen Dynasty. The youngest brother Kaloyan erected the St. Archangel Michail Church in the area of Tryavna (named after the resilient grass around), around which a whole village gradually grew up. During the Ottoman Rule, Tryavna was a privileged settlement, whose inhabitants guarded the pass through the Balkan to Odrin and Istanbul. The settlement reached prosperity at the end of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century when the crafts, the applied arts and the trade established themselves on the market. The influence of the representatives of Tryavna Art School is strongly felt. Masons built beautiful houses, schools and churches. Icon-painters ornamented them with icons and mural paintings and joiners (woodcarvers) completed their work with unparalleled altars, ceilings and windows. Felix Kanits who visited the town in 1872 called in the "Bulgarian Nuernberg". A lot of Tryavna citizens took an active part in the struggles for an independent Bulgarian church, for national awareness and liberation. The town is the birthplace of Levski's associate Angel Kunchev. Petko R. Slaveikov lived there, too and his eminent son, the poet Pencho R Slaveikov was born in Tryavna. The exceptionally healthy climate and the divine countryside of Tryavna made it a paramount resort as early as in 1896. Later on, the first in our country children's sanatorium for chest diseases was built up here with a donation from Tsaritsa loana (wife of Tsar Boris III).

Landmarks. Tryavna has preserved its Revival appearance even today. The old part was proclaimed an architecture reserve with about 140 monuments of Revival architecture. The brightest evidence of it are the ensembles at Dyado Nikola Square, R R. Slaveikov Street, Peter Bogdanov Street, Kachunska Mahala (quarter). The Daskalov's House (1804) is incomparable (27A, R R. Slaveikov Street, tel.: 0677 2166), in which the Museum of Woodcarving and Icon-Painting is located. The two magnificent wood-carved ceilings created by Dimitur Oshanina and Ivan Bochukovetsa in 1808 after a bet made between them. The Tryavna School of Icon-Painting Museum (1, Breza Street, tel.: 0677 3753) contains over 160 icons. The Slaveikov's House Museum (1830, 50, P R. Slaveikov, tel.: 0677 2206). Angel Kunchev House-museum and monument (39, Angel Kunchev Street). The House of Dyado (Grandfather) Dobri (1834). Popangelov's House (from the end of the 18th century) - the oldest in the town. Raikov's House (1846, 1, Prof. Pencho Raikov Street). St. Archangel Mihail Church dating back to 1819 with its magnificent richly carved iconostasis (work of Vitan Koyuv-Junior), the unusually beautiful bishop's throne made by Priest Koyu Vitanov about 1821. The church possesses a relic -over-throne cross of palisander wood carved with 12 scenes from the Bible. St. Georgi Church (1848-1852) has a remarkable iconostasis, work of the masters Dimitur Deikov and Nikola Dragoshinov (1852). In Shkoloto (The School) Museum (7, Captain Dyado Nikola Square) there are permanent exhibitions, among which the donation of the world famous Bulgarian painter Dimitur Kazakov stands out. The exhibits in the collection "Time-measuring devices and technology of Medieval times up to the end of the 19th century" are quite original. The Clock Tower (1814, in the central Captain Dyado Nikola Square). The upper bridge (1844). The Totyo Gubenski Art Gallery in the ancient Kalinchev's house (45, R R. Slaveikov) dates back to 1830. It is in possession of 500 pictures donated by the collector Gubenski. The Ivan Popdimitrov House-Museum (P. R.Slaveikov Street) with pictures, donated by his grandson. There is a permanent exhibition, too - a donation by the sculptor Ivan Kolev. Every odd year on 26th and 27th May Slaveikov's Days are held here including various cultural events. The town is host of the unique in the country International Plain-Air Painting on Wood Plastics "Bet in Tryavna", which is held each year.

Accommodation. Brushlyan Hotel-Restaurant, known also as the Tourist House (above the town, 6, Panorama Street, offers 10 beds in 5 double rooms). Ralitsa Hotel-Restaurant. The Tiger Hotel (7A, Dimitur Gorov Street, offers 4 double rooms). Tryavna Hotel-Restaurant (46, Angel Kanchev Street, offers 100 beds in 4 suites and in 1-, 2- and 3-bed rooms). There are other private hotels as well.

Tourist information - at the Municipal Tourist Information Bureau (5350 Tryavna, 22, Angel Kunchev Street, tel. /fax: 0677 2247). Planinets Tourist Association. At the hotels.

Transport. Bus and railway transport. There are regular bus lines of Gabrovo, Dryanovo, Plachkovtsi, Veliko Turnovo and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (2A, Stara Planina Street) and the railway station (tel.: 0677 2510) are next to each other and they are located in the northern part of the town. Tryavna is a station on the main railway line Rousse - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora - Podkova.

Surrounding areas. The recreation town of Plachkovtsi (at the distance of 7 km to the south of Tryavna) is an important point of departure for the Tryavna Balkan Mountain (refer to the Stara Planina related chapter herein). The natural phenomena Vikanata Skala Muhnatite Skali (the Mossy Rocks) and Stolishta are located here. There is a tourist house, too. There is a bus and railway transport functioning between the two towns. The village of Bozhentsi - Architecture and Ethnographic Reserve (at the distance of 28 km west along the road to Dryanovo; on foot it may be reached at about 1 -1.30 hours from the Sechen Kamuk Hill on the road to Gabrovo) - almost all the buildings were built during the 18th and mainly during the 19th century in the typical of this region of Bulgaria Revival style. In Bozhentsi one is carried away into the past and finds out an unsuspected idyll and calmness among the spirituality of the old houses. There is a museum, too. Every year in the beginning of September the village hosts a plain-air "Autumn in Bozhentsi", and from June to September - an exhibition-bazaar of works of art is held there, too. It is possible to find accommodation in some of the houses - Ivan Karadimitrov's House (19th century), Maria Savekova's House (18th-19th century), Tsana Mihova's House (19th century), Ivantsa Boncheva's House (20th century), Parlapanov's House. There is a regular bus transport from Gabrovo and Dryanovo. Patterns of ancient architecture are preserved in the near small villages of Skortsi, Dobrevtsi, Kereni, Kissiitsi, Genchevtsi. There are regular buses from Tryavna.

Dryanovo (top)
Intro:
The town of Dryanovo (9707 inhabitants; 270 meters above sea level) is amphitheatrically situated along the two banks of the Dryanovska River, a right tributary to the Yantra River.

Full text:
It 241 km and 21 km north-east from Sofia and Gabrovo, respectively, 17 km north of Tryavna, 25 km south-west of Veliko Turnovo, 32 km east of Sevlievo and 15 km west of Kilifarevo. A cradle of Bulgarian construction genius.

History. The settlement is mentioned as a fortress on the Strinava Plateau by Byzantine chroniclers in 1186 for the first time in relation to the Uprising led by the members of Assen dynasty (1185-1187). It is mentioned under the name of Diranav (Diranava) in a Turkish register of 1430, and today's name of Dryanovo is found in a book of the Zograf Monastery of 1500. The name originated from the cornel-tree commonly found here. The settlement reached its greatest prosperity (since 1883 it has already been proclaimed as a town) during the Revival Period. Dryanovo became famous for its masters -builders and wood-carvers. The most outstanding representative of Bulgarian construction genius during the Revival period -the self-educated architect and master-builder Nikola Ivanov Fichev (Master Kolyu Ficheto, 1800-1880) was born here. The inhabitants of Dryanovo took an active part in the national liberation movement. There were citizens of Dryanovo in Velcho's Conspiracy, in Georgi Rakovski's legion in Belgrade, in the detachments of armed volunteers of Stefan Karadzha and Hadzhi Dimitar, of Hristo Botev. In 1875, Georgi Izmirliev established a revolutionary committee here. During the fateful spring of 1876, in spite of the readiness of the citizens of Dryanovo for struggle, due to the lack of an eminent leader, no uprising burst out here. The settlement, however, gave revolutionaries for the detachment of armed volunteers of Pop Hariton and Bacho Kiro, which heroically fought for more than a week in the Dryanovo Monastery under siege. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, 88 citizens of Dryanovo fought in the Bulgarian volunteer forces. Nowadays the town and its surrounding areas develop more and more as a center of internal and foreign tourism. Dryanovo is the birthplace of the writers Racho Stoyanov, Atanas Smirnov and of the composer Todor Popov. In relation to its healthy climate and high average life expectancy, the town is often referred to as the "town of centenarians".

Landmarks: The Kolyu Ficheto Museum (in the eastern part of the town, Kolyu Ficheto Square, tel.: 0676 2079, also known as a museum of the Bulgarian Revival Architecture), in front of which the impressive bronze figure of the self-educated genius rises, work of the sculptor Boris Gondov. The home of the Master was not preserved. Lafchiev's House (the eastern part of the town, Kolyu Ficheto Square) of 1840 is a genuine masterpiece of the Revival Architecture. Even a nail was not used in its construction. The Holy Trinity Church is remarkable for its magnificent wood-carved ceilings. The St. Nikola Church, built up by Kolyu Ficheto, is located in the central part of the town. Elevated on the Bryasta ridge (the Elm-tree), at its time it dominated over the whole town. Interesting buildings of the old-time Dryanovska charshiya (marketplace), as well as the restored houses - Ikonomov's, Afazov's, Romounov's, Taninov's in the Boiuv Yaz area are preserved. The Clock Tower (the old one was destroyed in 1944) and the Art Gallery (Shipka Street) are located in the centre of Dryanovo, near to each other.

Accommodation. Momini Skali Hotel Complex (in the southeastern end of the town, Apriltsi Residential Area, Block No. 12). Milkana Hotel Complex (in the central part, near the river).

Tourist information - at the hotels or at the Bacho Kiro Tourist Association (9, Stefan Stambolov, tel.: 0676 2332).

Transport. Bus and railway transport connects the town with the country. There are regular bus lines to Gabrovo, Veliko Turnovo, Tryavna and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (1, Pop Hariton Street, tel.: 0676 2045) and the railway station (8, Zheleznicharska Street, tel.: 0676 3209) are located one opposite the other, on the two banks of the river (the bus station is on the left bank and the railway station is on the right bank of the river), in the southern part of the town. Dryanovo is a station of the main railway line Rousse - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora - Podkova.

Surrounding areas. St. Archangel Mihail Dryanovo Monastery (at the distance of 4 km south-west of Dryanovo, tel.: 0676 2389, 4058), huddled in the gorge of the river of the same name, is one of the symbols of the insubordinate Bulgarian spirit, a glorious and martyr's page, inscribed in blood into Bulgarian history. It was a monastery which 220 revolutionaries led by Pop Hariton, Daskal (teacher) Bacho Kiro and Lieutenant Peter Parmakov turned into an unassailable fortress for the whole of 9 days and nights during the spring of 1876. Thousands of bashibozouks (Turkish army of volunteers) and regular troops swooped down over the handful of defenders. An unfortunate hazard exploded the gunpowder arsenal and made Voivoda (Leader) Pop Hariton blind, but the resistance became even fiercer and more desperate... The rebels answered the proposal of Fazlu Pasha to surrender with the letter written by Bacho Kiro: "Pasha, we want the government to acknowledge our rights as a people and until it is done, we shall not surrender to your tormentor's hands as long as we are alive - we have made our decision to die and we shall keep our oath! And you shall bear responsibility for your tyrannies in front of Europe ..." After the Turkish artillery destroyed the monastery walls, it was solely the night that helped the survived rebels but it did not succeed in saving them from martyr's death. Only the captured Bacho Kiro was brought to trial but he behaved with dignity and was hanged on the gallows, paying for the love for the Motherland with his life. Dryanovo Monastery dates back to the time of reign of the Assen dynasty, the 12th century. It was built in relation to the celebration of the victory of Bulgaria over Byzantium in 1187. It was twice destroyed and then rebuilt. After the dramatic events in May 1876, solely the charred stonewalls of the church and a part of the stone walls protruded from it. It was rebuilt but the holes from the shells of Fazlu Pasha were left in the stonewalls and the museum collection tells us about the epic battles. Several old icons painted by Gabrovo masters are preserved, too. There is a regular bus transport from Dryanovo to the monastery. The Bacho Kiro Cave is located near the monastery, known also as the Dryanovo Cave. It was opened in 1890 and since 1964, it has been electrified. For as long as 1200 m a fairytale underground world reveals itself to the eyes of the visitor. The formations follow one after another-"Bacho Kiro's Throne", "the Dwarfs", and “The Sleeping Princess". The "Throne Hall", the "Reception Hall", the "Haidouti Meeting-Ground", the "Fountain", the "Sacrificial Altar" evoke the admiration of the visitors. Remnants of people who lived during the Paleolithic Age were found in the cave. The Bacho Kiro Chalet is situated on the other side of the river, opposite the monastery (tel.: 0676 2106, offering 85 beds in rooms with 2, 3, 5 and more beds, a restaurant, a coffee bar). The Strinava Camping is situated at a 10-minute walk from the chalet (it has 20 two-bed bungalows and a restaurant). The camping site is a seasonal one. The Dryanovo Monastery Hotel is located in this area as well. Extremely interesting remains of an ancient customs house and a market-place of the Roman town of the 2nd century Discoduraterra - located on the ancient road from Nove and Nikopolis ad Istrum to Vereya were found at the distance of about some 10 km northeast of the town, near the village of Gostilitsa. There is a regular bus transport to this place of interest. The architectural atmosphere of the Revival period is preserved in the nearby-situated villages of Kalomen and Kerenite, which in combination with the beautiful surrounding countryside is appealing to tourists.

Elena (top)
Intro:
The town of Elena (7471 inhabitants; 300 meters above sea level) is situated in the mountain valley of the same name, in the northern approaches of the Elena-Tvurditsa Balkan Mountain (Central Stara Planina).

Full text:
It is situated at the distance of 280 km north-east of Sofia, 40 km, 36 km and 33 km south-east of Veliko Turnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa and Lyaskovets, respectively, 18 km south of Zlataritsa, 28 km south-east of Kilifarevo, 40 km north of Tvurditsa and 79 km north-west of Sliven. It is a Revival town.

History. The region of the today's town was inhabited even during the late Neolite. There was a settlement there before the Ottoman Rule, but it was mentioned as a deserted village with the names of Mezra Istromena (Sturmena) and Iliyana (Elyana) in a document of 1430. It was known under the name of Gelendzhik, too. At the end of the century, it was already registered as a settlement guarding the passes of Stara Planina. By the 16th century, Elena has already grown as a village. It reached prosperity during the 18th and the 19th centuries as an artisanship, trade, Revival, and revolutionary centre (in 1860 it was proclaimed a town). Crafts were developed - manufacturing of aba (coarse homespun woolleen cloth and upper men's garment made of it), ironmongers, production of ropes, silkworm breeding and others. In 1854 there were 1000 houses in Elena, a result of an active construction of public and civil buildings, in 1843 the citizen of Elena Ivan N. Momchilov (Russian graduate) established the first Teacher Training School (called "Daskalolivnitsa" - moulding of teachers, by Petko R. Slaveikov), preserved up to date. In 1874, Doino Gramatik made the Elena transcript of Paisii's History. The citizens of Elena took part in Velcho's Conspiracy (1835), in Captain Dyado Nikola's Uprising (1856), in the Turnovo Uprising (1862). Georgi Sava Rakovski stayed in the town several times, and the Apostle Vassil Levski came twice (1868 and 1871), and during his second stay he organised the Elena secret revolutionary committee. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, the town and its surrounding areas were an arena of fierce battles. Elena was destroyed by fire, but fortunately the town developed as an architecture and historical town-museum whose future was in the development of tourism most of all. It is the birthplace of the plotter Hadzhi Y. Bradata (the Beard), of the great church activist llarion Makariopolski, of the writers Stoyan Mihailovski and Petko Todorov, of Sava Katrafilov, of the Kurshevski Brothers.

Landmarks. The town has preserved its ancient Revival appearance up to date. 130 buildings of that time are preserved, grouped in several ensembles. Most renowned are the Daskalolivnitsata (first teachers' training school in the country) of 1844 in which the Museum of the Town of Elena is located. Museum of Revival and the Struggles for National Liberation. The clock tower built in 1812, which counts every hour still today. The llarion Makariopolski Museum in his home (the house itself being a valuable architecture monument of 1710-1715). Popnikolov's house of 1830 is perhaps the most beautiful building of the Revival Period in the town almost completely made of wood. The five Razsukanov's houses date back to the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The two old churches - St. Nikola Church (1804) and Assumption Church (1837) are the work of builders from the village of Bolertsi and are distinguished by the rich woodcarvings in style of the Tryavna School, the second evoking respect by its big dimensions. They are located next to each other. The Art Gallery is located in the home of the writer Petko Todorov and exhibits a priceless collection of icons and modern works of art. The five Hadzhi Dimitrov's houses, the Poryazov's house. There is special charm and romance in the ensemble of houses along S. Petkov Street, S. Yovchev Street and Hadzhi Sergii Street.

Accommodation: The Elena Hotel Complex (1, Hristo Stanev). Dr. Momchilov Tourist Hostel (in the centre of the town, 3, Stoyan Mihailovski Street). It has 40 beds in rooms with 4, 5 and more beds.

Tourist information - at the Tourist Information Centre, 5070 Elena (located in the building of the Elena Hotel Complex, 1, Hristo Stanchev Street, tel.: 06151 3732, 3632, e-mail: elena_hotel@abv.bg). Choumerna Tourist Association (located next to the tourist hostel, tel.: 06151 4191, 4091).

Transport. Bus and railway transport connect the town of Elena with the country. There are regular bus lines to Veliko Turnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Lyaskovets, Zlataritsa, Tvurditsa, Sliven, Stara Zagora and other smaller settlements within the region. The town is the last station of the railway line Gorna Oryahovitsa - Elena, through which it is connected to the national railway network. At present there are trains functioning only during the summer season on holidays.

Surrounding areas. The St. Nikola Kapinovo Monastery (at the distance of about 25 km to the north-west of Elena) was founded in 1272 during the reign of Tsar Konstantin Assen-Tih. It is one of the most impressive monasteries in Bulgaria. It was a religious, cultural and revolutionary centre during the Ottoman Rule. In 1630, it was devastated by fire and in 1793 by kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) after which it was rebuilt as a fortress and the monks themselves took the defence of the Monastery in their own hands. At the end of the 18th century, Father Superior of the Monastery was Sofronii Vrachhanski who brought here the copy of "Slavonic-Bulgarian History" of Paisii Hilendarski made by himself. "The History" was read and copied behind the thick monastery walls, aimed at being spread throughout Bulgarian land and enlightening souls and hearts. In 1835, the plotters of Velcho's Conspiracy found shelter in the monastery. The rebellious Captain Mamarchev repeatedly visited the monastery. The monks planned an uprising with Hadzhi Stavri from the Lyaskovski Monastery but they did not succeed. The restored in 1835 monastery church, work of masters from Dryanovo is of special interest to visitors. The Composition "Doomsday" covering the completely external wall of the church is distinguished for its high artistic value. Yoan Popovich from Razgrad painted it in 1840. There is a bus line from Veliko Turnovo to the Monastery and the nearest railway station is Debelets (at the distance of 15 km northwest). There is an entire tourist settlement located amongst picturesque surroundings nearby the Monastery. St. Iliya Plachkovo Monastery (near the village of the same name, at the distance of 2-3 km north-west of the Kapinovski Monastery) was founded during the reign of Tsar Ivan Assen II, but it was destroyed when the country succumbed to Ottoman Rule (only ruins called "Balaklii" remained from it, located not far from the today's monastery). It was ruined five times and it was rebuilt for the last time in 1845, after the pogrom, which followed Velcho's Conspiracy with the active participation of Kolyu Ficheto. It is namely in relation to the Conspiracy that the greatest glory of this ecclesiastical cloister was achieved. In 1835, the serious merchant from Turnovo Velcho Atanasov - Dzhamdzhiyata (the Glazier), Captain Georgi Mamarchev, Hadzhi Bradata (the Beard) and several other plotters planned an uprising against the Ottomans in the region of Turnovo. A traitor brought the Turks to the monastery (the fundamental base of the plotters). The greater part of the plotters was slaughtered, the uprising was crushed, and the monastery became subject to plunder, destruction and fire. The holy place was often visited by Sofronii Vrachanski and Neofit Bozveli. In 1856, Master Kolyu Ficheto built up the high monastery belfry, the church and probably - the residential part of the building. There are several extraordinary icons in the monastery, the most valuable of them "Christ Great Prelate" (work of Zakhari Zograf (the Icon-painter) is a masterpiece of art. The transport connections are the same in relation to the Kapinovski Monastery. Yovkovtsi Dam spreads its waters at the distance of 4-5 km west of Elena - a perfect site for recreation, water motor sports, sunbathing, water tourism and fishing. There is tourist infrastructure, too. The regular buses running into the direction of the above-mentioned monasteries, Kilifarevo and Debelets can be used. Elena is a point of departure for hiking tours around the Elena - Tvurditsa Balkan Mountain (refer to the Stara Planina related section herein).

Veliko Turnovo (top)
Intro:
The town of Veliko Turnovo (66 998 inhabitants; 210 meters above sea level) is regally situated along the historical hills of Sveta Gora, Tsarevets and Trapezitsa, on the two banks of the Yantra River, cutting a peculiar gorge through Turnovo Hills.

Full text:
It is situated 240 km north-east of Sofia, 86 km east of Lovech, 46 km north-east of Gabrovo, 50 km east of Sevlievo, 43 km south-east of Pavlikeni, 42 km north-east of Tryavna, 106 km south-west of Rousse, 7 km south-west of Gorna Oryahovitsa and 100 km south-west of Targovishte. The old metropolis of Bulgaria. A regional administrative centre, too.

History. Veliko Turnovo is the town with the most glorious historical past in Bulgaria. It is a symbol of Bulgarian statehood and a source of national pride for every Bulgarian.
Remnants on Tsarevets Hill date back to the end of the Bronze Era (13th century BC). This oldest settlement was inhabited by Thracians (the tribes of Uzdicenses and Crobises) and existed by the end of the Iron Era. Its prosperity is related to 6th century BC - until 1st century AC. Its traces in the first centuries of the Roman Rule are lost on our lands (at the beginning of the new era). The next layer of Tsarevets is early Byzantine, from the 5th to the first half of the 7th century when there was a fortified town on the hill (one of the supporting points of Byzantium in the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula), which withstood for 3 centuries. A big Slavonic-Bulgarian settlement of the 8th to 10th century was founded on the ruins of this town. At the end of the 10th century, the hill was already densely populated and in the 12th century, it was a fortified town and a significant economic centre. The origin of the name is related to the Slavonic word "tern" or "trun" (thorn) and during the years it developed into Ternov, Trunov, Turnov, Turnovgrad, Turnovo and Veliko Turnovo, being called "Veliko" (Great) in relation to its size, beauty and grandeur. In 1187 the Uprising of Assen and Peter was successfully completed, the Byzantine Rule was thrown off and Turnovgrad became the capital (the third capital in the history of Bulgaria) of the restored Bulgarian Kingdom. The following two centuries are "golden" in the history of the town. The Tsar's Palace and the Bulgarian Patriarchy were situated on the Tsarevets Hill and the houses of the boyars and the senior priesthood as well as many churches were situated on Trapezitsa Hill. Assenova Mahala (quarter), located between the above-mentioned hills, by the Yantra River, was inhabited by artisans. The district of foreign merchants (Franks) was to the southeast of the Baldwin Tower. Thick fortified walls of the "internal town" protected Tsarevets and Trapezitsa. The other two quarter also had fortified protection and formed the "external town". Solely the dwellings of the destitute among the non-privileged people remained outside the fortifications at the foothill of the Momina Krepost (Maiden's Fortress) Hill, in the immediate proximity of the Yantra River. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the capital of Bulgaria was a big political, economic, trade and cultural centre in Europe. The Bulgarian State reached the heights of its development during this period. Along with Byzantium, it was the first power on the Old Continent. Magnificent palaces, monasteries, churches, fortifications, bridges, big houses were built here. The Turnovo School of Painting and the Turnovo Literary School, whose founders, organisers and most prominent representatives are Patriarch Evtimii and Teodosii Turnovski (of Turnovo), developed and carried out their versatile activities here. All the prosperity and spiritual upsurge was discontinued on 17th July 1393, when after a 3-month siege Veliko Turnovo, and gradually the whole of Bulgaria succumbed under Ottoman Rule...The Metropolitan town was in ashes. Centuries were to pass before the town was able to recuperate and experience a new economic, cultural and political upsurge during the Revival period. Crafts developed, trade flourished, beautiful houses, public buildings, churches (with the greatest contribution in that respect belonging to the unsurpassed Master Kolyu Ficheto), the aspiration for enlightenment and national self-awareness started to find their implementation and the struggle for ecclesiastical and national independence gained strength. The population of the old Bulgarian Metropolis took part in the Turnovo Uprisings of 1598, 1686 and 1700, in Velcho Conspiracy (1835), in the Uprising of Captain Dyado Nikola (1856), in Hadzhi Stavrev' Revolt (1862) and in the April Uprising of the rebellious year of 1876. Then Bacho Kiro, Tsanko Dyustabanov and many other fighters for freedom were hanged under the gallows erected in the town square. The Apostle Levski came here more than once (the last time in 1872, unfortunately enchained). On 7th July 1877 Veliko Turnovo was free again. From 10th February to 16th April 1879 the Constituent Assembly, which developed the First Bulgarian Constitution -the Turnovo Constitution, one of the most democratic constitutions in Europe for that time, convened here. On 17th April 1879 the first Great National Assembly of liberated Bulgaria convened in Veliko Turnovo to elect a head of state. On 27th July the same year Alexander Battenberg was elected as Bulgaria's knyaz (first prince). It was namely here that on 6th September 1885 Stefan Stambolov and Petko Karavelov made the decision to acknowledge the union of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Roumelia. Although Sofia became the capital of Bulgaria after the Liberation, Veliko Turnovo continued to be a sanctuary for all Bulgarians, a bastion of Bulgarian national spirit and self-awareness. It is the birthplace of Petko R. Slaveikov, of the great actor Konstantin Kissimov, of the writers Emiliyan Stanev and Dimitur Mantov and of many other eminent Bulgarians.

Landmarks. The Tsarevets Hill Archaeological Reserve in the eastern part of the modern town - the fortified wall, which in combination with the natural endowments, provided safety of the institutions, which were of the greatest importance for the Bulgarian state, is restored. The so-called Baldwin Tower in which Tsar Kaloyan confined the Latin Emperor Baldwin after his capture during the defeat of the Crusaders in 1205 near Odrin rises in its most southern part. One of the most interesting sites is the Palace of Bulgarian Tsars representing an independent fortress situated on the area of 4872 square meters. The most impressive premises in the Palace were the Throne Hall and St. Petka Palace Church. The Palace, whose building was expanded several times during the 13th and the 14th century, was completely destroyed after the town fell under Ottoman Rule. The second largest architectural complex of Tsarevets is Bulgarian Patriarchy. The Patriarchal complex rose at the highest place, above the Tsar's Palace. It occupied an area of about 3000 square meters, as an individual fortress in the shape of an irregular polygon. The Lord's Ascension Patriarchal Church with a belfry tower - a phenomenon scarcely met in the ecclesiastical architecture on the Balkans rose in the centre of the yard. The excavated foundations of residential buildings and churches along the steep slope of Tsarevets, east and south of the Patriarchy, forming a little quarter of the medieval town are of a special interest. A big boyar settlement north of Tsarevets was studied, too, which with its architectural pattern is the prototype of Bulgarian Revival house. One of the most valuable Medieval Bulgarian monuments -Forty Holy Martyrs Church is situated at the western foothill of Tsarevets Hill, near the river. It was erected by order of Tsar Ivan Assen II in honour of his great victory over the Byzantines at Klokotnitsa on 22nd March 1230. During the 18th century the Turks turned it into a mosque but a part of the valuables contained in it are still preserved. Thus, for instance, the three preserved stone columns - Assen's, Omourtag's and the one from the Rodosto Fortress are of an exceptional importance to historical science and prove the succession in the Bulgarian statehood. Tsar Kaloyan's grave and his golden 61-gram ring-seal were found during excavation works in the 1970s. The St. St. Peter and Pavel Church rises at the foothill of the northern slope of Tsarevets - the only better preserved church from Medieval Turnovgrad. After the town succumbed to Ottoman Rule the Bulgarian Patriarchy and the whole, Patriarchal library was moved to it. The last Bulgarian Patriarch - Evtimii served in this church for about two years before being sent in exile. Tsarevets Hill finishes in its northeastern end with a strongly protruding over the Yantra River Lobna Skala (Rock at the place of death) from which traitors were thrown down. The Trapezitsa Hill is related to the earliest manifestations of the Bulgarian rulers in the 12th century. In 1185, the St. Dimitur Solunski Church was built in the outskirts of the hill and during its consecration, the brothers Assen and Peter proclaimed the Uprising against the Byzantine invaders. It was a royal church up to the year 1230 and Assen, Peter and Kaloyan were crowned in it. Here on 7th November 1204 Archbishop Vassilii was promoted to the rank of Patriarch of Bulgarian church. The church was shown mercy after Turnovo fell under Ottoman Rule. Many fighters for spiritual and national liberation were buried in its courtyard during the 19th century. The church was almost completely destroyed during the second half of the 19th century. The St. Georgi Church is also situated in the eastern outskirts of the hill. It was erected in 1612 in the place of a destroyed Medieval Bulgarian church. The most interesting things in it are the mural paintings whose unknown author had shown himself as a follower of the best traditions of Turnovo School of Painting. Many dwellings of boyars were found during excavation works and there was a little family church in nearly each of them. In 1195 by an order of Tsar Ivan Assen I, the relics of St. Ivan Rilski were rested in a monastery located on the hill. The relics of the St. Gavrail Lesnovski was moved by Tsar Kaloyan to the Holy Apostles Church located on the same hill. The quarter on the two sides of the river between Tsarevets and Trapezitsa Hills where the 4 valuable historical churches are located (St. Dimitur Solunski, St. Georgi, Forty Holy Martyrs and St. St. Peter and Pavel) is called Assenova Mahala (Assen's quarter) and constituted the fundamental part of the so-called "external town". It originated during the reign of Tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241). Sveta Gora is the third hill of the Metropolis Turnovgrad. It rises south of Tsarevets and was a cultural and spiritual centre of the Bulgarian State in Medieval times. There were a lot of churches and monasteries here. The Turnovo Literary School and the Turnovo School of Painting developed a versatile and vivacious activity in the biggest of the monasteries - Holy Virgin Odigitriya. The Titans of the Medieval Bulgarian spirit - Patriarch Evtimii and Teodosii Turnovski did creative works here. Today the buildings of St. St. Cyril and Methodius Veliko Turnovo University rise on the place of the monastery. After Veliko Turnovo fell under Ottoman Rule, the town started to expand to the west little by little. Predominantly Turks settled down along the hills of Tsarevets and Trapezitsa and predominantly Bulgarians settled down in the new quarters. Construction of a lot of new private and public buildings commenced with the growing economic prosperity of the Bulgarians during the Revival period, a great part of which still adorn the Old town (between the hills of Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora, separated from them through the meanders of the Yantra River). The self-educated Bulgarian architect and builder Master Kolyu Ficheto greatly contributed in this respect. He created several of them - the Konak (police station) (1872), related to a lot of historical events (to the interrogation of the captured Levski in 1872, to the Turkish court trial of the revolutionaries Bacho Kiro, Tsanko Dyustabanov, Georgi Izmirliev, Ivan Semerdzhiev, Ekim Tsankov and others in 1876, to the welcoming of the Russian liberators in 1877, to the Constituent Assembly in 1879 and the First Great National Assembly convened during the same year, to the decision for the acknowledgement of the Union in 1885). The Inn of Hadzhi Nikola (1858), one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the Revival period. The St. St. Cyril and Methodius Church (1861), St. Spas (Ascension) Church (1862-1863) and St. Konstantin and St. Elena Church (1872), as well as the House with the Monkey (1849, in the centre of the town), taking its name form the sitting monkey placed above the ground floor with an inscribed sign plate under it. The Museum of the Second Bulgarian State is located near the Konak. The home of Petko R. Slaveikov. The St. Nikola Church (1836) during whose construction Kolyu Ficheto worked as an apprentice. The prison-museum (1862) where many freedom-loving Bulgarians were sent, among them Levski, Philip Totyu, Stefan Karadzha, Bacho Kiro. The house of Kokona (Grand Lady) Anastassia (of the end of the 18th century). Stambolov's Inn (was owned by Stefan Stambolov's family, the rebellious Captain Dyado Nikola worked here, too). Gourko Street with many Revival Period houses in it adds romantic atmosphere to the Old Town. Built steeply above the river, it seems as if they have perched one over the other. One of the most beautiful buildings in this street is Sarafkin's House (Moneychanger’s) (1861). The Art Gallery (tel.: 062 38951) and the monuments to the Assens' Dynasty in front of it are located on a picturesque peninsula (Borouna), rising above the Yantra River. There are many other interesting old houses, public buildings, squares, dozens of monuments, too. It is difficult to describe Veliko Turnovo. It is worth seeing with one's own eyes!

Accommodation. The Veliko Turnovo Interhotel (2, Alexander Penchev Street). The Yantra Hotel (3-star, 2, Opulchenska Street). The Sveta Gora Motel (in the southeastern end of the Sveta Gora Park). Orbita Hotel (downtown, offers 50 beds, 'tourist' category). Trapezitsa Tourist House (in the centre of the town, 79, Stambolov Street, it has 73 beds in 2 suites and in 2-, 3- and 4-bed rooms. Momina Krepost Tourist House (Maiden's Fortress) (in the Ksilofor Area, east of town, near the last stop of town bus lines No. 7 and No. 11 and 2-km further walk, it offers 178 beds in 3 suites and in 2-, 4- and 5-bed rooms). There are cozy and typical Bulgarian public catering and entertainment establishments offering traditional Bulgarian cuisine in Veliko Turnovo. One of them is the tavern in the House with the Monkey, working hours: 11.00 a.m. -12.00 p.m., 14, Vustannicheska Street).

Tourist information - at the Tourist Information Centre - 5000 Veliko Turnovo (13A, Hristo Botev Str, R O. Box 5000, at the Veliko Turnovo Hotel, tel.: 062 22148, e-mail: dtour@vali.bg), at the Council on Tourism, 5000 Veliko Turnovo (at Veliko Turnovo Hotel, tel.: 062 30571, 30353, 528057); at Trapezitsa Tourist Association (79, Stefan Stambolov Street, tel.: 062 21593, 35185); at the hotels and in the tourist houses.

Transport. The town of the old Metropolis is connected by bus and a railway transport. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Gabrovo, Rousse, Lovech, Kazanlak, Tryavna, Dryanovo, Sevlievo, Gorna Oryahovitsa (a town bus line), Lyaskovets (a town bus line), Pavlikeni, Turgovishte, Popovo, Byala and other smaller settlements within the region. The bus station (86, Nikola Gabrovski Street, tel.: 062 40908) and the central railway station (tel.: 062 620065) are far from each other, the first being located in the western end of the town, and the second - in the southern end of the town immediately under the Sveta Gora Hill. There is another railway station - Trapezitsa, north-west under the hill of the same name. Both stations are at the main railway line Rousse - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora -Podkova. Moreover, the railway station of Gorna Oryahovitsa (the biggest railway junction of Northern Bulgaria) is located at the distance of only several kilometers northeast of Veliko Turnovo. At the railway station, there is a taxi service for Veliko Turnovo passing through the village of Arbanassi. The following travel agencies are located there, too: Group (for bus tickets in the country and abroad, 1, Al. Stamboliiski Street), Rila Railway Bureau (13A, Hr. Botev Street), Rila International Travel Bureau (13A, Hr. Botev Street, tel.: 062 22042), Inter-tour (an agent of Balkan Airlines, 13A, Hr. Botev Street), and Sema Express (airlines ticket bureau - 25, Nikola Gabrovski Blvd., tel.: 062 621586). The town has a regular town bus and trolley bus transport.

Surrounding areas. The village of Arbanassi - Architecture and Historical Reserve located at the distance of 4 km northeast of Veliko Turnovo. Its flourishing as a trade and artisans’ centre was during the 16th to the 18th century when the monumental houses and churches with a rich interior decoration, woodcarvings and mural paintings were built. These are unique monuments of our architectural and artistic heritage. The Arbanassi type of houses may be defined as dwellings - fortresses. The most interesting are Konstantsaliev's House (housing a museum collection), Hadzhiiliev's House, Kandilarov's House, Nikolchokostov's House and others. The following churches deserve special attention, too - Birth of the Holly Son Church, Archangel Michail and Gavrail Church, St. Atanas Church, St. Georgi Church. Arbanassi is the birthplace of Marion Dragostinov, chief apostle of the Sliven Revolutionary District in the April Uprising. One can find accommodation here at the Arbanassi Palace Hotel, the Arbus Hotel and Tavern, the Raiski Kut (Paradise Corner) Hotel and Tavern, Constantine and Elena Hotel Complex, Boyars Kushta (Boyar's House) Hotel and Tavern, and others. There is a taxi service running every 30 to 40 minutes between Gorna Oryahovitsa and Veliko Turnovo passing by the road fork for the village (1 km). The Preobrazhenski Monastery is situated at the distance of 6 to 7 km north of Veliko Turnovo, under the inaccessible sheer rocks of the left bank of the Yantra River. It flourished during the 14th century. It was repeatedly ruined and destroyed by fire during the years of Ottoman Rule and rebuilt in the first half of the 19th century. It is one of the most remarkable monuments of Bulgarian Revival Period architecture and iconography. It includes four churches. The Central Transtiguration Church was started to be built by Master Dimitur Sofialiyata (of Sofia) who was hanged because of his participation in Velcho's Conspiracy (1835). Master Kolyu Ficheto completed it. It was painted by Zakhari Zograph (the Icon-painter), two of his compositions being of a particularly high artistic value -"Doomsday" (overall eastern wall of the narthex) and the "Wheel of Life" (on the southern outside wall). The wood-carved iconostasis and the iconostasis icons, work of masters form Tryavna are remarkable, too. The masterpiece of the painter of the Revival Period Stanislav Dospevski - "St. Apostle Andrei" is exhibited here as well. The next Annunciation Church was built by the Master Kolyu Ficheto and Stanislav Dospevski painted the icons. Dimitar Sofialiyata built the little underground St. Andrei Church, and the icons were painted by the unique icon-painter and wood-carver Papa Vitan, one of the most eminent representatives of the Tryavna School of Art. The last of the monastery churches is Lazar's Ascension Church (of 1891), whose icons were painted by the citizen of Tryavna - Ivancho Kunchev. A bell tower with a clock built by Kolyu Ficheto (1860) rises in the courtyard of the monastery. The largest bell was a gift by the Russian Emperor Alexander II for the services of the monastery as a Russian military hospital during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. Matei Preobrazhnski - Mitkaloto (the Wanderer), Pop (Priest) Hariton, Father Zotik lived and worked in the monastery. Vassil Levski, Angel Kunchev, Philip Totyu, Stefan Stambolov, Georgi Izmirliev found a safe shelter here. There is a regular bus to the motorway and it is about a 30 to 40-minute walk from there. One of the oldest monasteries around Veliko Turnovo - Sveta Troitsa Monastery (The Holy Trinity) is located on the right bank of Yantra River opposite the Preobrazhenski Monastery. It originated about the year 1070. It was called Assen's, Shishman's (after Bulgarian tsars), and Patriarch’s Monastery. It is related to the literary activities of Monk Evtimii up to his election as a Patriarch in 1375. Having returning to Bulgaria from the Sveta Gora Monasteries on Athos in 1371, he settled down here and created the renowned literary school known as the Turnovo School. This School developed the great spelling reform and established the language standards. Master Kolyu Ficheto erected the present Monastery Church in 1847. It can be reached by bus and on foot from Veliko Turnovo and from the village of Samovodene or along a picturesque track under the rocks of the Yantra River in about a 2-hours' walk from the town. Teodosii Turnovski founded The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Kilifarevo Monastery (at the distance of 17km south of Veliko Turnovo and 4 km southeast of Kilifarevo) in 1348-1350 with the generous help of Tsar Ivan Alexander. Solid stonewalls surrounded it. It was a centre of Hesychasm (Medieval religious doctrine teaching that unity with God could be achieved through quietness and solitude) and a centre of education and literature. Over 400 disciples of the first teacher Teodosii Turnovski were taught there. It was repeatedly ruined and destroyed by fire during the years of Ottoman Rule. Its last restoration commenced about the year 1830, Master Kolyu Ficheto taking an active participation. Under his hands were erected the residential part of the building and St. Dimitur Church (1844). The wood-carved iconostasis of the church is a genuine piece of art, joint work of Kolyu Ficheto and S. Marangozina. There is regular bus transport from Veliko Turnovo and the nearest railway station is Debelets (at the distance of 10 km north). The Lyaskovets Monastery is at the distance of 6 km north-west of the Old Metropolis town and at the distance of 3 km south-west of the town of Lyaskovets. It is situated on a high inaccessible rock on the Arbanassi Hill. Its remote history is based on legends and traditions. It is related most of all to the struggles for national liberation – uprisings, detachments of armed volunteers, conspiracies. Vassil Levski, Matei Preobragenski, Hristo Ivanov – Golemia (the Big), Bacho Kiro and others often came here from 1869 to 1871. The monastery provided shelter to the revolutionaries during the preparation of the April Uprising. Ilarion Makariopolski opened the first ecclesiastic school of Theology) here in 1874, the first lecturer in it was Nedyu Zhekov. Archbishop Kliment Branitski (Vassil Drumev), Sofronii Vrachanski, and many of other people’s enlighteners are connected to this school. There is an asphalt road to the monastery from Lyaskovets, Veliko Turnovo, and Arbanassi. It takes no more than an hour walk from Lyaskovets and 45 minutes from Arbanassi. Accommodation against minimal fees can be found in all above-mentioned monasteries. Nikopolis Ad strum – at the distance of 18 km north of Veliko Turnovo and at the distance of 3 km southeast of the village of Nikyup – represented ruins of the majestic Roman town founded by emperor Trayan at the beginning of the 2nd century AD, in honour of his victory over the Dacians. Deep moats and high stonewalls surrounded it. A forum (square), straight and wide streets, temples of Roman, Greek, and Eastren gods, white-stone private and public buildings were found there during archeological excavation works. The town was provided with sewerage system and water-supply system. An enormous water pipeline, 26 km in length, supplied abundant mountain spring water from the cave near the village of Moussina. Veterans, big landowners, merchants, and artisans who had come from different parts of the Roman Empire – Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, inhabited the town. Nikopolis ad Adstrum was one of the biggest trade centers of Lower Moesia. Over 900 kinds of colonial coins were minted here. A network of stone roads connected it with the other Roman centers in Moesia and Thrace. A Roman marble statue of the God of Love - Eros, a bronze head of Emperor Gordian III (238-244), architectural details, statuettes, inscriptions and others were found here, too. Most imposing is the sculpture of the God of Medicine - Ascleteus -1.83 m man-high statue, weighing about 800 kg, which is now kept at the Museum of Archaeology in Veliko Turnovo. The ancient town reached its zenith during the 2nd-4th centuries. It existed up to the beginning of the 7th century when the Avars destroyed it. A Bulgarian settlement was set up here during the 10th century, which survived through the Middle Ages but was of secondary significance. It was not mentioned during the years of Ottoman Rule. There is regular bus transport to the village of Nikyup.

Gorna Oryahovitsa (top)
Intro:
The town of Gorna Oryahovitsa (35 621 inhabitants; 160 meters above sea level) is situated at the northern outskirts of the Turnovo Hills, at the distance of 7 km north-east from Veliko Turnovo, 3 km north-west of Lyaskovets and 247 km north-east of Sofia.

Full text:
The biggest railway junction of Northern Bulgaria.

History. The first information about life in a settlement dates back to the second half of the 5th millennium BC (Middle Neolithic Age) and is related to the ruins in the area called Blatoto (the Swamp) (located in the town within the region of the high school). The rectangular houses were made of hedge and clay. There are traces of the earliest Thracian settlement in the area of Pchelno Myasto (Bees' Place) at the distance of about 2 or 3 km east of the town, between the Kamuka Hill (the Stone) and the Arbanassi Hill. Its inhabitants were from the tribe of Krobizi. The settlement was of significant dimensions (with an area of over 100 decares). The Kamuka Fortress was erected to provide security for the people. It existed from the 5th century BC to the 1st century BC, when the Romans built up their own fortified settlement over its ruins. It gradually acquired economic power mainly through cultivating grapes and producing wine. During the 2nd and the 3th centuries the Roman Province Lower Moesia was the only province enjoying protection on the part of the central authority for cultivating grapes and for the production of premium quality wine. The life of that settlement continued up to the coming of the Slavs (6th -7th centuries). There is no substantiated evidence of a settlement life during the period 7th-12th centuries. After the restoration of Bulgarian State at the end of the 12th century, a need arose of protection of the new Metropolis Turnovgrad. Several sentry fortresses were built up, among which Rahovets, too (at the distance of 4 km north-west of today's town). This happened between 1187 and 1190, when the task of the new fortress was to protect the road from Cherven (the region of Rousse) to Turnovgrad. The name originated from the Persian "rah" -road, motorway. Today's name of the town originated from there in the course of time. During the Ottoman invasion the fortress was conquered by the Turks after the water pipeline to it, was discontinued (without destroying the fortress). Rahovets existed up to the year 1444 when Vladislav III Varnenchik destroyed it. Three individual small villages existed during the first centuries of the Ottoman Rule there - Mala (Little), Sredna (Middle) and Golyama (Greater) Rahovitsa. Gorna Oryahovitsa gradually (with certain rights granted by the Sultan in 1538) turned into an economically powerful settlement, particularly during the Revival Period. Crafts prospered and trade was among the most active in Northern Bulgaria. Every Friday there was a big market of cattle, agricultural production, timber, and charcoal. As early as in 1822 a monastery school was opened here and in 1827 - the private school of Father Gerassim Stoikov (it became public school in 1835), in 1850 - the first girl's school opened its gates and in 1859 the first intermediate high school was founded by Ivan Momchilov. The chitalishte (the reading room and community centre) was opened in 1869. In 1870, Gorna Oryahovitsa was proclaimed a town. It numbered 4700 inhabitants at that time; there were 1200 houses and 5 churches. The population of the town took part in almost all actions in the region being part of the struggle for national liberation. Vassil Levski organised a revolutionary committee here during the first half of 1869 and after that visited the town twice more. During the preparation of the April Uprising Gorna Oryahovitsa was designated as centre of the First Revolutionary District with Stefan Stambolov as Chief Apostle but Ivan Semerdzhiev, Georgi Izmirliev and the Gruncharov Brothers worked most actively in the town. After a series of treacheries, the large-scale uprising failed. There was only one battle between a handful of rebels and the Turkish hordes with tragic consequences. On 28th May 1876 Ivan Semerdzhiev (together with Bacho Kiro and others) was hanged in Turnovo, Georgi Izmirliev was hanged on the gallows on the same day in the centre of Gorna Oryahovitsa with the words: "It's a good thing to give your life for the freedom of your Mother country!” Sider Gruncharov (Sider Voivoda) died at the head of a detachment of armed volunteers under Mt. Mourgash. Mortal danger threatened Gorna Oryahovitsa, but the courageous chair of the women's society Elena Gruncharova gathered women, children and old people and set off for Turnovo where by entreaties they obtained patronage by Reuf Pasha who sent regular army and protected the town from Caucasians and brigands. Three citizens of Gorna Oryahovitsa fought in Botev's detachment of armed volunteers and 132 people joined the Bulgarian volunteer forces during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. The Russian Army liberated Gorna Oryahovitsa from the Ottoman Rule on 26th June 1877. Major Emiliyan Senkevich (brother of the Polish writer Henrich Senkevich) was amongst the liberators who married a woman from Gorna Oryahovitsa. After the Liberation, the town developed as a big transport (predominantly railway) centre as it is nowadays. Its proximity with the Old Metropolis town of Veliko Turnovo, with Arbanassi, with the magnificent monasteries around and with a great number of other sites of interest makes it a tourist centre as well.

Landmarks. The Town Museum of History (6, Antim I Street, tel.: 0618 41464, 43738). The house of Sider Voivoda. The Joint School. St. Georgi Church (25, St. Knyaz Boris I, tel.: 0618 45687). The monument to Georgi Izmirliev in the centre of the town as well as the monuments to Vassil Levski, Hristo Botev and Sider Voivoda. The Neolithic settlement near the high school. Accommodation: The Rahovets Hotel (1, Georgi Izmirliev Street). Etoal Private Hotel is located at the distance of 150 m from the railway station.

Tourist information - at the hotel and at the Kamuka Tourist Association (2, M.Todorov Street, tel.: 0618 41421).

Transport. The biggest railway centre of Northern Bulgaria. The two main railway lines - Sofia - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Varna and Rousse -Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora - Podkova cross here. The local railway line Gorna Oryahovitsa - Zlataritsa - Elena branches off from here. The railway station is located in the northern end of the town (106, Tsar Osvoboditel Street, tel.: 0618 56050, 56007). There is a railway bureau in the centre of the town as well (1, Tsar Osvoboditel Street, tel.: 0618 42134). Gorna Oryahovitsa has regular bus connections with Veliko Turnovo (a town bus line), Lyaskovets (a town bus line) and a lot of other towns and villages in this part of the country. The bus station is located in the central part of the town, on the left bank of the small Dereto River (10, Yanko Boyanov Street, tel.: 0618 42123, 42096). There is a taxi service between Gorna Oryahovitsa and Veliko Turnovo every 30-40 minutes departing from the railway station and passing through the village of Arbanassi. There is a town bus transport, too.

Surrounding areas. The already mentioned ruins of Medieval Rahovets are located at the distance of 4 km north-west of the town. The fortress (about 250 m in length) was amongst inaccessible rocks in the area. Nowadays only parts of its foundations can be seen. It takes about an hour walk from the centre of the town. Within 1 km from there, the following interesting sites are situated: the locality of Bahadur with the late Medieval necropolis, the St. Petka Cheshma (drinking fountain) and the locality of the same name where was the settlement of Temnigrad (Dark Town) of the Late Medieval Period, the Ovchar's Cheshma (shepherd's drinking fountain) which supplied water to the Rahovets Fortress by means of a pipeline.The ruins of the Thracian Fortress on the Kamuka (Stone) Hill are located immediately south of Rahovets. The wall of the fortress adds up to 350 m in length, and there are ruins of a Thracian sanctuary in the middle - a square indented into the rock with the side being 2 m long and the depth of 0.5 m. A little cave goes on from there downward. The site of the Thracian sanctuary has its following interesting explanation - the high temperature of the limestone during the summer causes a powerful ascending stream, which splits the storm- and hail-bearing clouds and throws them aside. That is why hail falls on the northern slopes of the Kamuka and not on its southeastern slopes where the vineyards and the settlement itself were located. Bozhoura Forest Park (at the distance of 7 km west of the town, behind the Rahovets Fortress). The Bozhur (Peony) Chalet offering 40 beds in 5- or 6-bed rooms is located here. There is no regular transport running to it but there is an asphalt road as well as a marked hiking track from Gorna Oryahovitsa (1.30 hours) as well as from Veliko Turnovo (2.30 hours). The town of Lyaskovets - an old horticultural, vine-growing and wine producing centres which has preserved its foremost role in this respect up to these days is located at the distance of 3 km south-east of Gorna Oryahovitsa. Lyaskovets is a picturesque town of the Revival Period with about 80 old houses grouped mainly in 5 little romantic streets. There are several churches with valuable icons and wood-carvings on their altars, too - St. Atanas Church, restored in 1835 after a fire, St. Dimitur Church of 1724, St. Nikola Church, St. Georgi Church and St. Vassilii Church with a clock on its belfry. There is a Museum of History and a Museum of Gardening (unique of its kind in Bulgaria). A town bus line is functioning between the two towns and it is possible to get here by train on the Gorna Oryahovitsa - Elena railway line. The village-museum of Arbanassi is situated not far from Gorna Oryahovitsa (at the distance of 4 km south-west, refer to the Veliko Turnovo related section herein), as well as the ancient monasteries - Preobrazhenski Monastery, The Holy Trinity Monastery, the Kilifarevo Monastery, the St. St. Peter and Pavel Monastery (refer to the Veliko Turnovo related section herein) and the Kapinovo and Plachkovo Monasteries (refer to the Elena related section herein).

Byala (top)
Intro:
The town of Byala (approximately 11 000 inhabitants; 60 meters above sea level) is situated along the Yantra River in the central part of the Danube Plain.

Full text:
It is 294 km northeast of Sofia, 52 km south-west of Rousse, 54 km north of Veliko Turnovo, 45 km southeast of Svishtov, 93 km east of Pleven and 50 km north-west of Popovo.

History. The name Byala (White) comes from the colour of the surrounding limestone rocks. The settlement emerged around 1596 and was mentioned for the first time in 1618. In 1831-1837, there was an outbreak of an epidemic of plague. Felix Kanits described the settlement in 1871 as an artisan’s centre with a bazaar and many workshops. In 1845, Petko R. Slaveikov was a teacher in this town. After the April Uprising was put to rout, one of its last tragedies took place in the town of Byala. Pursued by a Turkish horde and trying to cross the river and escape Panaiot Volov, Georgi Ikonomov and Stoyan Angelov drowned in Yantra. At the time of the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, the Headquarters of the Russian Commander - Emperor Alexander II was located in the town of Byala. After the Liberation, Byala had about 4000 inhabitants. In 1891, it obtained the status of a town.

Landmarks: The Military-Historical Museum War of Liberation (2, Julia Vrevskaya Street, tel. 0817 2466) is in the old house in which the Headquarters of the Russian Army was accommodated. A beautiful park is situated in the surrounding area where old guns and a part of the pontoon bridge, which was used by the Russian troops to cross the Danube River near Svishtov on 27th June 1877, are exhibited. Here is the tomb of Baroness Julia Vrevskaya, who was a volunteer medical nurse during the war. The famous Belenski Bridge is situated between the town and the railway station (near the bridge on the Rousse - Veliko Turnovo route) on the Yantra River - outstanding monument of Bulgarian architecture, designed and built by Master Kolyu Ficheto in 1865-1867 by the order of Mithad Pasha. It is 276 m long and 9 m wide. Its vault arches are decorated with sculptures of animal heads. A part of the bridge was carried away in a flood and then restored, but in disharmony with the old part. The bridge is closed to vehicles. There is a monument to the Great Master on the left bank in front of the bridge. The white monument to the three revolutionaries who tried to swim across the river on 25th May 1876 is situated near the bridge on the left bank of the river. The Clock Tower, built in 1872 by the local artisans’ organisation is located in the centre of the town. Its height is 15.20 m. Other historical sites of interest are Alexander II House-Museum, the monuments to the Russian officers and to Julia Vrevskaya.

Accommodation. The Yantra Hotel.

Tourist information - at the hotel and at Yantra Tourist Association (3, Ekzarh losiff Square, tel. 0817 2474).

Transport. Byala has a bus and railway connection with the other parts of the country. There are regular bus lines to Rousse, Veliko Turnovo, Svishtov, Popovo and other smaller villages in the region. The railway station is located at the distance of 5 km from the town (there is a regular bus line with the town) on the main railway line Rousse-Gorna Oryahovitsa-Stara Zagora-Podkova.

Surrounding areas. The Belenskata Forest is located at the distance of 6 to 7 km from the town. Here the Yantra Chalet can accommodate up to 40 people in four suites and in rooms with 2, 3, 5 and more beds. There is no regular transport, but there is an asphalt road leading to it. It would take about 1.30 hours walk to reach the chalet. Near the village of Pepelina, 31km to the northeast of Byala the beautiful Orlova Chouka Cave is located (in the Cherni Lom River valley). The total length of the galleries is about 12km thus being the second longest cave in Bulgaria. It is electrified. The cave can be reached for about 45 minutes walk starting from the railway station of Tabachka. It is at a distance of 6 km from the town of Dve Mogili. There is a regular bus line from Rousse to Pepelina and from there - 3 km along a truck road (30 minutes walk). Near the cave there is a mountain chalet of the same name (it offers 21 beds in two rooms with 3 beds each and a room with 15 beds, for reservations: tel. 082 224705, 225454 -Prista Tourist Association, Rousse.)

Rousse (top)
Intro:
The town of Rousse (162128 inhabitants; 50 meters above sea level) is located on the high right bank of the Danube River, 496 m from the outflow of the big river.

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It is 320 km northeast of Sofia, 203 km north-west of Varna, 106 km north-east of Veliko Turnovo, 146 km north-east of Pleven, 97 km north-east of Svishtov, 122 km south-west of Silistra, 66 km north-west of Razgrad. The greatest and the most important Bulgarian town on the Danube River, known also as "Little Vienna" because of its ancient architecture. It is a regional administrative centre.

History. The famous Rousse mound - a prehistoric settlement existed more than 5000 years ago is located within the boundaries of the modem town. At the beginning of the new era on a part of the territory of the modern town of Rousse, an ancient settlement of Sexaginta Prista (The sixty ships) emerged, where "prista" means a particular type of a Greek river guard vessel. Probably it was founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian (69-79). Later on, it was known under the names of Pristis and Pristapolis. It existed up to the 6th century, when the Avars brought it to ruins. In Medieval times, a new settlement emerged near the ruins of the ancient settlement, and information about it was found for the first time in the Broush Guidebook of the 16th century under the name of Rossi. In the Sultan Register of 1431 and in a Peace Treaty concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Magyar state dated 20th August 1503 the settlement was mentioned under the name of Roussi. In Ahmed Neshri chronicles as well as in many other old maps the town was shown as a wholesome town together with the settlement of Giurgiu on the opposite side of the Danube River named Yorgogi, Yorgovo, Yuroukova, Roussi on both sides of the Danube River, Giurgiu on both sides of the Danube River. In 1595, the Wallachian ruler Mihai Vityazoul (the Courageous) attempted to liberate Bulgaria with a Wallah-Bulgarian army and the town was brought to ruins. After its reconstruction at the beginning of the 17th century, it was given the name of Rouschouk (little Roussi). The town turned into an important port and a strong border fortress. In 1811, the Russian General Koutouzov carried out the famous Rouschouk battle and became known as a talented military commander. In 1864, the town became the centre of the Danube District of the Ottoman Empire. In 1866 the building of the first railway road in Bulgarian lands - Rouschouk-Varna was completed. The first modern agricultural farm was founded under the name of Noumine (Exemplary farm). The River Management was founded as well and in a short period, 7 steam ships and 15 barges were purchased. A printing house was opened with printing machines from Vienna where newspapers, books and textbooks were printed. The bookshop of Hristo G. Danov was opened at that time. To meet the needs of the secular education in Rouschouk in 1843 Alexander Rousset published in Strasbourg the first geographical map in Bulgarain. European influence penetrated into the town through the active river transport along the Danube River (predominantly Austro-Hungarian ships) and this had positive impact on the development of the town. Architecture developed, too and the construction of private and public buildings resembling the style of the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - Vienna commenced. The European fashion in clothing also penetrated first in this Bulgarian town. On 1st January 1866, the first in Bulgaria meteorological observations began here with modern Austrian equipment. Rouschouk was not left aside from the struggle for spiritual and national liberation either, moreover that in its capacity of being a gate to Europe it was here that the modern freedom-loving ideas of the Old Continent made their way into the country. Zora (Dawn) Chitalishte (reading room and community centre) and the home of the extraordinary Bulgarian woman patriot baba (grandmother) Tonka Obretenova became centers of the national struggle. Many revolutionaries were assisted to leave the Empire or to return to their Motherland. It was here that Angel Kunchev - one of the most faithful and ardent followers of Vassil Levski died during an exchange of fire with the Turkish police. Baba Tonka, her sons and daughters, revolutionaries who gave their lives for the freedom of Bulgaria - Stefan Karadzha, Angel Kunchev, Zahari Stoyanov, Lyuben Karavelov, Panayot Hitov, Hristo Makedonski, Dimitur Tsenovich and many other great Bulgarians were buried in this town. A Pantheon-Charnel House of the national Revival heroes with an everlasting fire was opened in Rousse in 1979. The bones of many of the 453 dignified Bulgarians, who were born in or who linked their lives with this town and whose names are inscribed in the Pantheon were collected in it. On 20th February 1878 the Russian Army led by General Totleben entered Rouschouk and was enthusiastically welcomed by the population led by Archbishop Kliment Branitski (Vassil Droumev). The town was the biggest in the liberated Bulgarian lands - over 20 000 inhabitants. On 31st July 1879 the Bulgarian flag of the ships donated by Russia was raised which marked the beginning of the organised Bulgarian river navigation. The first marine technical school, later on moved to Varna, was opened here in 1881. The same year was found the first Bulgarian bank - Girdap. In 1889 the first Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, and two years later, the first joint-stock insurance company - Bulgaria - were established in Rousse. As of the end of the 19th century a lot of celebrated architects did their creative work in the liberated of Rousse (Edward Winter, Udo Ribau, George Lang, Edwin Petritski, Negos Bedrossyan, Todor Tonev, Nikola Lazarov and others), painter-decorators (Karlo Francescani, Giovanni Pitor and others), landscapers (Ferdinand Halober, Richard Noyvirt and others). It is not due to randomness that Rousse is being considered the most European Bulgarian town even nowadays. The writers Elias Kaneti, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for 1981, Dobri Nemirov, Michael Arlan were born here, Lyuben Karavelov, Ivan Vazov, Stoyan Mihailovski, the poet Tsvetan Radoslavov, author of the text of the Bulgarian national anthem, the painter Joul Pasken (Pinkas), the pianist Otto Liebih, the opera singer Mimi Balkanska, Academician Mihail Arnaoudov lived here. The role of the town grew up even more with the construction of the so-called Bridge of Friendship between the Bulgarian and the Rumanian banks in 1954. It was here that at the end of the 1980s the civil movement for protection of the town from the pollution of the Giurgiu Chemical Works (Rumania) originated and it marked the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria. Nowadays Rousse is a big economic, transport, cultural and tourist centre.

Landmarks. About 200 building in Rousse are considered part of architectural historical heritage of Bulgaria, 12 of which are especially valuable. In the first place, this is the Dohodnoto Zdanie (The Profitable Building) with the winged Mercury on its roof (the Old Theatre), built in 1902 by the architects Raul Brank, George Lang and Frank Scholts, which together with the Monument to Freedom (1908), a remarkable work of the architect and sculptor from Florence Arnoldo Zocci, are the symbols of Rousse. The following are also among the most outstanding cultural and historical monuments: The High School of Music; the Catholic Church (Episkop Bossilkov Street, tel.: 082 228188) with coloured stained-glass; the buildings of the Savings Bank, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Lyuben Karavelov Library), the boys' high school Knyaz Boris (now a secondary vocational school Hristo Botev); The house of the sailor; the Regional Administration (granted for a museum); The Club of the Culture Functionaries; The DUTY-FREE Zone Administration; the Simeonov Brothers' House. The native home of Elias Kaneti is located at 13, Gurko Street. Rousse is a town of the museums: The Pantheon to the National Revival Heroes (tel.: 082 28913); The Town Museum of History; the Baba Tonka Museum (phone: 082 32364); the Zakhari Stoyanov House-Museum; Toma Kurdzhiev House-Museum; The Museum of the Town Lifestyle arranged in Kaliopa's House (tel.: 082 27742). The National Museum of Transport and Communications is housed in the building of the oldest railway station of Bulgaria. Carriages of Sultan Abdul Aziz, of Tsar Ferdinand and Tsar Boris III are preserved in it. The Town Art Gallery. The ancient sites of interest of the town also include Leventabia Fortress (a restaurant complex now), the Kyuntukapiya Gate from Mitiriza, the Mahmoud Column, the Holy Trinity Church (8, Holy Trinity Square) dating back to the beginning of the 17th century, the Fleet Tower, built in 1884 by architect Franz Gruenanger for meteorological observations. There are monuments of those killed in the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885, to Russophilles, to Baba Tonka, to Lyuben Karavelov, Stefan Karadzha, Raycho Nikolov, etc. There is an Opera House in Rousse (Sveta Troitsa Square, tel.: 082 234303, 225358), a Philharmonic Orchestra (12, Rayko Daskalov Street, tel.: 082 225680), Theatre of Drama and a Puppet Theatre. The International Festival "March Days of Music" is annually held in the town. There is a higher educational institution, too - the University of Rousse.

Accommodation. The Riga Hotel Square (Svoboda Square). The Danube Hotel (Svoboda Square). The Splendid Hotel. The Yordan Petrov Hotel (Prista Western Park, on the bank of the Danube River opposite the island of Lyulyaka (Lilac), working hours: 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., there is a restaurant). Dom na Armiyata (House of the Army) Hotel (2, Odrin Street). The Rai (Paradise) Motel. The Prista Chalet (in the western park of the same name, offering 132 beds in 3 suites and in 2-, 4-, 5-and 7-bed rooms, there is a town bus line to it). Lyulyaka Camping (in the Prista Western Park, on the bank of the Danube River opposite the island of the same name, it has 24 beds in double rooms - two rooms in a bungalow.

Tourist information - at the hotels and at the tourist chalets. At Prista Tourist Association (1, Knyazheska Street, tel.: 082 224705, 225454) and at Akademik Tourist Association (8, Studentska Street, tel.: 082 450887). Transport. Bus, railway and river transport services the inter-town and international connections of the town. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Varna, Pleven, Veliko Turnovo, Shoumen, Razgrad, Turgovishte and many other towns and villages of the country. There are two bus stations functioning in the town -Iztok (East) Bus Station (10, Ivan Vedar Street, tel.: 082 443836, 228151, 444810) and Yug (South) Bus Station (156, Alexander Stamboliiski Square, tel.: 082 222974, 228151, 228100). Rousse is the initial (or the final) station of two railway lines Rousse - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Stara Zagora - Podkova and Rousse - Kaspichan - Varna. It is connected to them to the national railway network. There are two railway stations in the town - one in the eastern part and the Central Railway Station (in the western part, tel.: 082 222213, 224320). There is a town railway ticket bureau (082 222845) and an office for sleeping car reservations (082 224202). The river station of Rousse is a big one. Since 1992, the river passenger transport along the Bulgarian Danubian riverside has been discontinued but its continuance is solely a matter of time. There are cruises only along the international route Rousse - Belgrade - Novi Sad - Budapest - Bratislava - Vienna - Linz – Pasau with Bulgarian and mainly foreign tourists. Tourist cruises on little ships are organized during the summer. Since 1993 the ferryboat line Rousse - Giurgiu has been in operation, too. There is town bus and trolley bus transport in Rousse.

Surrounding areas. Prista Western Park is located at the distance of 6 km from Rousse along the road to the town of Byala. There are beautiful deciduous forests, well shaped lanes, tourist can visit the the Danubian island of Lyulyaka, Prista Chalet, Lyulyaka Camping, the Danube Motel, Ribarska Koliba (Fisherman's hut) - interesting restaurant. There are town bus lines - No. 6 and No. 16 running to the park. Another big site for recreation, sports, tourism, sunbathing and all other kinds of entertainment is situated at the distance of 12 km east of Rousse - the Lipnik Forest Park. There are country houses, restaurants, artificial lakes, a hotel, a zoo corner, a sports base and a camping site. There is a town bus line functioning in this direction. Obraztsov Chiflik (Exemplary Farm) is situated at the distance of 3 to 4 km from the Lipnik Forest Park and possesses beautiful deciduous forests, fertile land and vineyards. It is an example of the economic development in the past. Two little sprightly tourist chalets Zdravets Chalet (40 beds in 1 suite and in 2-, 4-, 5-, 6- and 9-bed rooms) and Minzuhar Chalet (45 beds in 2-, 3-, 5- and 14-bed rooms, tel. for reservations in the Prista Tourist Association, Rousse). There is a regular bus line (Rousse – Obrzatsov Chiflik) and one can walk to the Minzuhar Chalet in 30 minutes from the last stop and another 30 minutes to the Zdravets Chalet along a marked track. The Roussenski Lom River Valley, along with its tributaries Beli (White), Malki (Little) and Cherni (Black) Lom represents a unique world in itself in which the amazing nature is entwined into our remote past history. Part of the valley with the territory of 3260 hectares was proclaimed a Nature Park (at the distance of 20 km south of Rousse). The rivers have created incredibly beautiful gorges into the limestone rock foundation. It is genuine joy for the eyes and real paradise for rock climbers. One of the most significant military, economic and cultural centers of Bulgaria during the 13th and the 14th centuries was located there the Medieval Town of Cherven (on the right bank of the Cherni Lorn River, by the name of the same village, at the distance of 31 km south of Rousse). Out of the preserved ruins, most interesting are the parts of the fortified walls, the defensive tower (used as a model for the restoration of the Baldwin Tower on Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Turnovo), the two gates, the castle, the foundations of a great number of churches, the foundations of the boyar palaces, the two unique in their kind water pumping facilities with vaulted staircases, etc. There is a regularly functioning bus transport to the village. Many monks-hermits settled down in the valley during the late Middle Ages. Whole monastery complexes were created there - Ivanovski, Maluk Rai (Little Paradise), Golyam Rai (Great Paradise), Koshouta (Doe) and churches with exquisite mural paintings, a part of which was preserved. The mural paintings of the Ivanovski Rock Churches (on the Roussenski Lom River) are one of the summits of Medieval Bulgarian art (work of masters from the Turnovo School of Painting). In 1983, they were entered into the cultural list of UNESCO protected sites. There is a regularly functioning bus transport to the village of Ivanovo. The Alpinist Chalet is situated on the bank of the Roussenski Lom River, at the distance of 6 km south of the Prista Chalet (14 beds on plank-beds and 6 bungalows with 36 beds in 2-, 3- and 4-bed rooms, reservations at Prista Tourist Association, Rousse) with perfect possibilities for rock climbing along routes with different categories of complexity. It is located at the distance of 1 km southeast along an asphalt road from the village of Bassarbovo. There is regular bus transport to the village. The Bassarbovo Monastery is situated at the distance of 2 km from the chalet. The village of Pissanets with the Mamoulya rock phe¬nomenon and the strongly fortified Pissansko gradishte (ruins of an ancient town) are situated at the distance of about 25 km south of Rousse, on the banks of the Beli Lom River. There is regular bus transport to that site. The Danube River provides excellent opportunities for recreation, water sports, water tourism, fishing and lots of entertainment. There are wonderful little places, like the islands of Lyulyaka and Mateya, the riverside at Stulpishte, Marten and so on. The shelters for accommodation are not few in number, there are attractive public catering establishments, sports bases, tourist chalets, beaches and all of them are accessible either by car or by public transport.

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