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The Town Of Lilacs - Lovech

Lovech is known as The Town of Lilacs due to the vast number of huge, beautiful lilac bushes which grow in Stratesh Park and which can be seen from everywhere in the town.

Situated on both banks of the River Osam, Lovech town is both flat and mountainous.

The large Stratesh Park is located on a 250m high plateau in the eastern area of the town. Lovech is surrounded on the south west by the Hisarya and Bash Bunar Hills. Set some 150 kms from the capital, Sofia, other nearby towns are Pleven, Teteven and Troyan.

History

The area surrounding the present town is believed to have been inhabited in prehistoric times. The Thracian tribe Meldi were the first settlers in the town in the 4th-3rd centuries BC, making Lovech one of Bulgaria's oldest towns.

 

Some historians believe Lovech to be the location of the Thracian capital Melta, which acted as a road station between the Thracian tribes who inhabited the Rhodopes, the Maritza Valley and Romania. During the Roman colonisation of the area, a military base was established at Lovech, known as Prezidium. This was a very strategically important point along the Via Trayana - one of the largest Roman roads which connected the sea with the River Danube. Traces of the Roman road can still be seen in Lovech today.

 

During the 17th century, Lovech (Lofca in Turkish) again became a road centre connecting north and south Bulgaria. It is believed that crafts and dealers from Lovech reached as far as Tsarigrad, Odrin, Thessalonike, Vienna and Bucharest, to name but a few.
The town was known as ‘Golden Lovech' (or Altan Lovech in Turkish) because of its trading success.


From 1780-1784 the town rapidly developed, and it was thought that there were approximately 20,000 people living there. Between 1872-1874, the self-taught National Revival architecture master, Kolyu Ficheto constructed the ‘Covered Bridge' (Pokrit Most in Bulgarian) over the River Osam. The bridge was destroyed by fire in 1925, but was successfully rebuilt in 1931 and you can still see this famous landmark today.

During 1901-1959, Lovech became a county centre, and then a regional town. Later, in 1987, it became the regional centre.
Today it is a thriving town which has retained much charm, particularly in the old quarter (Varosha quarter) where traditional Bulgarian houses nestle together with beautiful walled gardens.

Places to See in Lovech

There are two distinct areas to the town - the old and new parts.

The old town is situated in the Varosha district, an architecturally preserved area, and is characterised by the grey stone roofs and covered terraces on the first floor of the houses (chardaks) which protrude over the streets.


Between the old and new towns, crossing the river, you will find the famous ‘Covered Bridge'.


The Plaza Todor Kirkov lies at the eastern end of the bridge, and is the spot where this local revolutionary was killed by the Turks in 1876.


The Art Gallery lies behind the square. It is home to regularly changing exhibitions, and displays of rustic scenes by local artists. It is free to visit.

The new town has a modern centre with pleasant pedestrianised plazas and walkway where you can enjoy the shopping or just sit in one of the many boulevard cafes to watch the world go by.
The Varosha district is clearly marked by the Revival-style façade of a kindergarten. Cobbled streets pass up the hillside lined by buildings that have been constructed in the traditional style (often they are actually modern constructions underneath!).

The Ethnographic Museum can be found in two wooden houses on Marin Pop Lukanov Street. The houses were built during the early part of the 19th century on foundations from the 17th century. One of the houses has an almost Western European 1930s appearance, with a modern kitchen and book-lined study.

Costumes from the period are on display. The other house contains low beds and tables from the later part of the 19th century. A British iron bedstead and some Viennese furniture occupy a couple of rooms. A British steam iron from the period, along with other imported items, make up a display in the workroom. In the cellar you will find a rakia still, a wine press, vats, and a vessel for making soap. The museum is open all year round, with times changing slightly in the winter, and note that it closes for lunch. There is a small entry fee.