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Building a Revival Stone House

Bulgaria is full with many different architectural styles from a variety of periods in history. Many investors looking for property strive to keep within the traditions of local areas by renovating old property to return it to its former glory. However this requires much effort and not everyone can live with the mess or wants to wait for such projects to reach completion.

Today there is an alternative solution allowing those who want to combine architectural traditions with modern living and many construction companies are prepared to recreate houses from a particular period from scratch. In this article we take a look at recreating a traditional stone house with all the modern conveniences of today.


Architectural Features of Old Stone Houses

Old stone houses are a legacy from the Bulgarian National Revival period and they still hold their own, particularly in many of the countries mountain towns and villages. This unique Bulgarian architecture was conceived out of practical needs using available raw materials. One reason for their design was that the mountain relief did not allow extensive buildings. Thus, houses in mountain areas were constructed on small but high stone foundations with either two or three storey’s jutting out one over the other with basements used for storing goods.

Roofs were covered with heavy stone tiles and exterior walls were painted white. Inside the houses contain exposed timber beams. The eaves also contained large windows to attract more light from the sun. In traditional stone houses, the first floor is constructed wholly from stone and has fewer windows sometimes to provide privacy from the ruling Turks and in other instances because many Bulgarians kept their animals here.

The second floor was often built from wood and had more windows. In typical Renaissance style the upper storey was always larger than the lower floor because often there was not the land available to build a larger footprint. The houses had a large bay window supported by timber corbels. Inside, there were many built-in cupboards and a small cellar often with a hiding place. Other classic features of many of these houses are the large stone chimneys, balconies called "chardaks", ornately carved wooden doors and small yards enclosed by thick stone walls again affording privacy by concealing the courtyard from passers-by. Yards tended to be small, paved with slabs often with a stone drinking fountain in the middle. Museum towns like Shiroka Laka are famous for their bona fide stone houses, which were designed by local craftsmen.

Recreating a Stone House

Today’s stone houses combine panoramic views with modern conveniences. Stone Houses is a company which specialises in building traditional stone houses in the Rhodope Mountains close to some of the museum towns like Leshten and Kovachevicha, which contain the real McCoy.

Sticking to traditional methods, they use local stone and wood renowned for their high-quality as building materials as well as providing solidity and ecological simplicity. The company prides itself in reproducing houses according to the unique Bulgarian customs and culture and use master craftsmen in the construction process particularly when replicating the traditional ironwork. Each house retains the time-honoured traditions of providing cosiness, safety, and warmth in the winter as well as a cool fresh environment during the hot summers.

On the first floor, all of the company’s houses have large Mehanas – Bulgarian taverns used for entertaining guests, 21st century kitchens and a bathroom. In the lounge are there are hand-crafted stone fireplaces, stone floors and much ornate wood and ironwork. On the second floor, each of the bedrooms have fireplaces and their own en-suite bathrooms.

The company have paid so much attention to historic details that each house also has a veranda or "chardak", providing panoramic views of the area. Roofs are constructed with stone tiles, unique to the area and the yards have been enclosed with traditional stone walls. Inside the traditional stonework is also exposed making an attractive feature. It takes the company six to twelve months to build one home because they try wherever possible to stick to traditional building methods. Prices are also reasonable starting at 647 Euros per sq m but this price can decrease if you already have your own land. It is also possible to copy some of the old three storey Renaissance houses to create a large family home or guest house.

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