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Kotel, Stronghold of Spirit

To see in Kotel

Kotel has been declared an architectural and historical reserve and first stop on a list of its sights should be the charming old quarter of Galata and the well-preserved cobbled streets, which together contain over one hundred traditional houses from the National Revival Period.

The houses are made in what is known as the Kamchiya style from stone and wood and contain brilliant woodcarvings, huge broad eves, curved roofs and small walled courtyards.

When you stroll around Kotel’s cobbled streets there are more delights from the Bulgarian Revival to discover. The Kiorpeev House contains the Ethnography Museum, which displays authentic folk costumes and many household objects that mirror traditional life here. Another interesting sight is the sarcophagus, which contains the body of Georgi Sava Rakovski as well as Dr. Peter Beron’s heart and manuscripts by Vassil Levski and Sofronii Vrachanski.

The town is famous for its interesting cultural displays of local rites and customs such as the charming Christmas rituals, jolly Easter celebrations and unique Kotel weddings. Its rich folk traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. If you want to immerse yourself in this tradition visit the Philip Koutev National High School of Folklore, which educates visitors with traditional musical performances.

The well-manicured Izvorite Park in the northern part of the town contains three natural mineral springs, which give out 2,000 litres of fresh water per second. It is little known that the whole town is supplied from the natural mineral springs. Imagine, your own mineral water supply straight out of your own tap at home!

The park is also home to the Museum of Nature and Science, which contains around 30,000 exhibits, gathered from the natural environment in the area. Also well worth seeing are the Sveta Troitsa Church and the Church of Saints Peter and Pavel. Both churches contain some ornate woodcarvings from the respected Tryavna School of Art.

In the centre of the newer part of town is a huge impressive building set in a massive town square. This now houses a museum and was built during the communist period. From the central square you have a magnificent 360 degree views of the mountains.

 

Carpet Weaving

Kotel is world renowned for its hand woven carpets; it is Bulgaria’s oldest centre for artistic fabrics and even has its own unique weaving school.

The ornate rugs intertwined with geometrical figures are handmade using old techniques including the same type of natural dyes used in the 18th and 19th centuries. Internationally Kotel carpets are on a par with the renowned Persian carpets and they enjoy large sales worldwide. You don’t have to search very long to see an example of Kotel’s dazzling woolen rugs – the carpets crafted in bright red, green, yellow and other attractive colours are displayed all over the town and the Carpet museum at the Galata School displays a unique collection of rugs along with the development of carpet weaving in the region. The school has many brightly coloured carpets on display and a one room demonstrates the skilled use of the straight loom in carpet weaving.

 

Eat, sleep and drink

For a town of its size, Kotel offers some excellent accommodation. The Crystal Hotel in the centre of town is a modern hotel with all mod cons. There is also the brand new Casino Hotel and yes, even complete with its own small casino. There are several small bed and breakfasts and self catering houses in the old quarter where you can revel in the authentic atmosphere.

By far the most attractive and comfortable accommodation can be found at the Starata Vodenitsa or Old Watermill on the edge of Izvorite Park.

This beautiful example of Revival architecture has been restored to its former glory and each room is an example of how a traditional Revival house would look.

 

There are several restaurants offering good local cuisine in the town such as the Diavena Restaurant and the Elenite Restaurant. The restaurant at the Old Watermill is also a haven for fine dining and well worth a visit for authentic Bulgarian dishes.