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Cultural tourism in Bulgaria

The live museums of history

Many towns and villages in Bulgaria have been announced as cultural preserved areas. Such are Melnik, Bojentsi, Arbanasy, Tryavna and others. Those small villages and towns represent a fine ensemble of old houses, cobblestone roads and bridges harmonically built of wood and stone. The settlements with preserved authentic architecture are live museums under the sky keeping the Bulgarian spirit within.

• Arbanasi

The village of Arbanasi is one of the most picturesque villages in the country. It is situated on the homonymous plateau in the mountains near Veliko Tarnovo with a breath taking view to the ancient town. The tourists are captured by the monumental one of a kind architecture of the 16th and 17th century houses. The fortress-like houses have rough exterior contrasting their well-arranged gardens and cozy interior. The ceilings, the doors and the window frames are lavishly decorated with fretworks; the walls are decorated with plaster ornaments painted in flowers. About 80 houses have preserved the national revival period atmosphere; 36 of them are announced for national monuments of culture.
The well preserved 5 churches and 2 monasteries built in the end of the 16th and at the beginning of the 17th century are especially beautiful. Simply decorated from the outside, the churches are beautifully painted and lavishly decorated with fretworks and pictures from the inside. The village of Arbanasi is announced as an architectural preserved area and is included in the UNESCO list of world’s cultural heritage places. You could ride a horse in the local horse stable or take a walk around. The local taverns will give you the opportunity to taste delicious Bulgarian specialties.

Bojentsi

The architectural-historical preserved area Bojentsi is situated in the central part of Stara Planina. It is a 600 years old picturesque settlement that keeps the flavour of the past. Combining wonderful nature, unique Balkan architecture and warm Balkan hospitality, the village of Bojentsi is one of the places that could take you back in time and make you feel real Bulgarian atmosphere. The visitors could feel its peace and calmness. The village itself was found during the first years after Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottomans. It is named after the boyar woman Bojana, who managed to escape from the siege of Tarnovo together with her two sons and settled in the obscure area of the Balkan where today’s village Bojentsi is.
The high stone walls, the studded oak gates, the small cobblestone streets, the stone fountains and bridges and the small shops retain the unforgettable atmosphere of this heavenly place in Bulgaria.
Bojentsi is one of the last places in the country where the ancient craft – “shekerdjiystvo” (working with concentrated sugar) is preserved. A father and his son are the last people left to produce dainty bits made of sugar that you could only taste here such as white jam, Turkish delight, sesame seed sweets, sugar sweets, home made khalva, damson cheese, sugar-candy (nebet sheker), baklava and syrup-soaked shredded sweet.
The hospitable locals will prepare Turkish coffee boiled on sand. Each morning you could taste the home-made winding banitsa and the home-made sheep or buffalo yoghurt.
The architectural-historical preserved area Bojentsi is situated about 16 km east of Gabrovo and about 40 km away from Veliko Tarnovo.

Koprivshtitsa and Kovachevitsa

• Koprivshtitsa

They say that the small town of Koprivshtitsa is an open-air museum. Over 380 monuments from the national revival period are preserved in the town. Most attractive are the old houses painted in blue, yellow and red with high stone walls and heavy wooden gates. You are going to see many stone fountains and stone vaulted bridges while walking around the cobblestone streets. They keep the real atmosphere of the old town.
Koprivshtitsa is situated about 1060 m above the sea level on both sides of Topolka River. Close to the town are the two highest peaks of Sredna Gora – Bogdan (1604 m) and Bunaya (1594 m). You should not miss to see the built in 1817 church “Uspenie Bogorodichno”.


• Kovachevitsa

If you’d like to dip into the magical charm of the past you should definitely visit Kovachevitsa. The village is situated in the farthest southwestern part of the Rhodope Mountain, about 23 km north east of the town of Gotse Delchev. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the area such as the picturesque canyons, the crystal clear water of the rivers, the cool forests and the high peaks offering panoramic views. This will take you back to ancient Bulgarian times.
There are about 110 old-style houses some of them are currently small hotels, offering accommodation and Rhodope cuisine specialties. All houses are built in Old Bulgarian style with high stone walls, wooden gates and special old roof tiles. The unique architectural style has not changed since Kovachevitsa was formed. All the architectural techniques are still in use now. There are just abou 50 local people living in the village all the year round. Since 1977 this precious historical complex has been designated as an architectural preserved area.
The climate here is temperate – the winter is mild due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea and the summer is cool because of the surrounding forests. Kovatchevitsa is a real oasis of calmness.

Etara

Etara is the only open-air ethnographic museum in Southeastern Europe. It is situated about 8 km to the south of the central part of Gabrovo on both sides of the Sivek River. You will be able to see the miraculous properties of the water, to admire the national revival period architecture and get to know the Old Bulgarian traditions. Situated over 70 000 sq. m. Etara will give you an idea of what the typical Bulgarian craftsman settlement looked like 150 years ago. The small cobblestone streets, the stone fountains, the roar of the old mills, the gas lamps, the old clock tower and the old-style houses represent the spirit of the Bulgarian Revival. Over 20 crafts are presented to the visitors live in the old workshops such as wood-carving, coppersmith’s trade, pipe-smith, baking, sweet production, herb collecting, cutlery, weaving, production of woolen braiding, furriery, turnery and pottery. The visitors could observe the process of production of silver ornaments, earthenware, copper tools, hand-knitted articles, traditional food and national costumes. Special practical trainings is organized for those who would like to learn crafts.

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