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The Extraordinary Town of Gabrovo

Gabrovo is not just an ordinary town. And I'm not saying that only because I happen to have been born there. Although every town has its own spirit, in Gabrovo you can feel it brimming over on the streets while you are listening to the murmur of the river, crossing one of the many bridges or visiting the landmarks around town.


In the Centre

The first extraordinary feature of Gabrovo is that it falls right in the Centre of Bulgaria. In fact, Scientists' measurements determined the exact spot of the geographical Centre of the country to be at Uzana locality, some twenty kilometres away from the town. Indeed, old people say that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. If you are to go back to times past - you will need memory, if you want to go into the future - you will need courage; if you wish to set off on a journey towards your inner self - you will need native land and a heart. This is my attitude as we leave Sofia behind and make our way to Botevgradsko highway ready to cover the 215 km distance to Gabrovo.

Interesting Facts

As we are getting closer, I start to remember some of the interesting stories about Gabrovo I had learned as a child. To begin with, one should know that "when something new has only just hit the headlines somewhere, in Gabrovo it is already being done". I like this epigram because it conveys so much of the true character of the people of Gabrovo. It is one of the wise saying in the world-famous book of Gabrovo Anecdotes, known by every citizen of Gabrovo almost by heart. It is so, because Gabrovo is recognized as the world capital of humour and satire. But humour and reality interweave to form the true image of the town because many of the sayings and anecdotes convey real characteristics of the sharp-witted Gabrovians.

Did You Know That Gabrovo Was the Place Where:
• the first modern secular school in Bulgaria was opened. It opened doors on January 2, 1835, when Bulgaria was still part of the Ottoman Empire;
• the first student library in Bulgaria was opened, in 1840;
• the first cartridge factory in Bulgaria was opened;
• the first tennis court and the first skating-rink were opened, in 1922;
• the current national anthem was performed for the first time at the Aprilov National High School;
• the first and all eleven soap factories were constructed by 1936;
• the first modern concert hall was opened;
• the first meteorological station was opened, in 1887.

Did You Know That:
• Gabrovo was proclaimed 'Creditor of Bulgaria' in 1942;
• Gabrovo Museum of History keeps the first Bulgarian bill with serial number 000001 of 1881 and one of only three gold coins preserved from the times of Philip of Macedon (3rd c. B.C.);
• The first governor and first prime minister of Bulgaria (1880) Todor Burmov was from Gabrovo;
• Gabrovo is known as 'The Bulgarian Manchester' for its rapid industrial development after the Liberation of 1878;
• Gabrovo is also known as the longest town in Bulgaria, stretching over 25 km along the Yantra River, yet reaching only 1 km in width at places;
These are real facts, but it is through anecdotes that the integrity of reality and imagination are added.

Article written by L. Ross