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Haskovo, City of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Tucked away in southern Bulgaria close to the Greek and Turkish borders, the pretty town of Haskovo lies in the Thracian valley on the River Maritsa. It is set in greenery surrounded by rugged hills with the Sakar Mountain and the Eastern Rhodopes as impressive backdrops.

The town itself is decorated with ornate Revival architecture and is a hive of cultural activity and it is one of the oldest towns in the country. Its population numbers 96,194 making it the 12th largest town in the country. Haskovo has a valuable cultural heritage with significant achievements in science and art. Each year it hosts a number of cultural events including the Republican Championship in Sports Dances, and the Christmas Folklore Festival amongst many others.

 

 

A Dip Back in Time

Seven thousand years ago a prehistoric settlement was established on what is today known as Haskovo. Archaeologists have since found evidence of other cultures in the area including long history during Thracians, ancient Greeks and Romans. During the First Bulgarian State in the 9 the century a fortress was built transforming the town into one of the country’s strongholds. One of the first mosques in the Balkans was built here in 1395, known as the Eski cami or Old Mosque it is still standing today and is renowned for its leaning minaret.
By 1782, the town was known as Marsa, but there has been much debate as to how the name Haskovo originated. Many believe it derives from the Turkish word "has" meaning clean and koy meaning village. After Turkish rule ceased, the town’s name was given Slavic roots by adding the ending “ovo” to the name.
The town flourished around the 19th century, when more Bulgarians settled here and it became a prosperous trading centre for merchants from Istanbul, Edirne and Enos particularly for the trade of its cotton and silk materials and its carpets. Following the 1878 liberation, industry diversified into the growing of tobacco.

Eating, Drinking and Where to Stay

Haskovo has many bars and restaurants, which offer traditional Bulgarian cuisine and many are located around Svoboda Square in the town centre.  Some of the best known are the four-star Aida Restaurant, Gourkova Kushta, Divo Kozle in Kenana Park and the Bolyarka Tavern.
The Restaurant Haskovo is worthy of a special mention. It is dedicated to providing its guests with fine food by using fresh quality seasonal produce and a passion to create the best in modern Bulgarian dishes with a European influence.

There is much in the way of good accommodation; the Hotel Haskovo in the centre close to the main administrative buildings offers its guests a variety of facilities including an on-site hairdresser and a luxurious restaurant. The Hotel Rodopi also in the centre offers to its guests comfort and cosiness at a great price. There are 10 single rooms, 22 double rooms and 7 apartments as well as a conference hall and exquisite restaurant. The Hotel complex Diamond Plaza located close to the cultural, historical, business and bank institutions. It has a modern sports centre consisting of a fitness gym, Finnish sauna and solarium.

The Restaurant Haskovo is worthy of a special mention. It is dedicated to providing its guests with fine food by using fresh quality seasonal produce and a passion to create the best in modern Bulgarian dishes with a European influence.

There is much in the way of good accommodation; the Hotel Haskovo in the centre close to the main administrative buildings offers its guests a variety of facilities including an on-site hairdresser and a luxurious restaurant. The Hotel Rodopi also in the centre offers to its guests comfort and cosiness at a great price. There are 10 single rooms, 22 double rooms and 7 apartments as well as a conference hall and exquisite restaurant. The Hotel complex Diamond Plaza located close to the cultural, historical, business and bank institutions. It has a modern sports centre consisting of a fitness gym, Finnish sauna and solarium.

Pictures courtesy of  Nenko Lazarov, www.imagesfrombulgaria.com