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Exploring Koprivshtitsa

With so many historical monuments and such beautiful scenery Koprivshtitsa is a firm favourite on the tourist map. There is much to see and do here. A number of renowned Bulgarians were born here. Their homes have been preserved as museum houses and six of these can be visited on a wander through its cobbled streets. Many of the lovely old houses are now small, family-run hotels and restaurants serving traditional Bulgarian cuisine. Every five years Koprivshtitsa is home to a large international folk festivals in the Balkan region. Wandering through the quaint cobbled streets of this time transports you back in time because more or less every street and house is in some way connected with the town's rebel past where many great Bulgarians were born or commanded their organisations in the plight to free Bulgaria.

Old Houses

The town contains several well-preserved 19th century houses, which today are open to the public. Nayden Gerov’s House was celebrated in Lyuben Karavelov’s book “Old Time Bulgarian.”- the scenes set in the house can still be felt today. Gerov was a distinguished Bulgarian politician, teacher and writer who established the first Bulgarian school in the town. He also wrote a number of works including the first Bulgarian lyrical poem Stoyan and Rada, which was inspired by his patriotism to his country. He was also responsible for producing the first Dictionary of the Bulgarian language. The house is also the place where Gero Mushek established the first monastery school. Oslekov’s House belonged to a wealthy merchant of this name between 1853 and 1856 who took part in the April uprising and was hanged as a result of this. The house has a colourful, rich exterior, whilst inside the ceiling is supported by impressive Lebanese cedar columns. One of the rooms on the second floor was traditionally used for entertaining guests and the décor here is stunning; the walls are covered with paintings of foreign cities. On the ceiling there are some spectacular wood carvings. The house shows how wealthy Bulgarians lived during the 19th century. Dimcho Debelianov’s House belonged to the poet of this name. It's high walls enclose a beautiful courtyard full of old pine and cherry trees with a small, deep blue house in the middle. Todor Kableshkov’s House is the place where Kableshkov, the Chairman of the Secret Revolutionary Committee of Koprivshtitsa wrote the famous “blood letter” declaring the start of the April Uprising. The house is symmetrical in design with an elegant and spacious second-floor with large windows and some fabuolous wood carvings on the ceilings, doors, and cupboards. Lyutov’s House is possible one of the best examples of Revival architecture in the country. It's walls are painted in rich colours and each of the ceilings has been skillfully carved from wood. There is an exhibition of handmade rugs on the ground floor. Lyuben Karavelov's house is now a museum, consisting of three houses, which belonged to the Karavelov family who dedicated their lives to Bulgaria's fight for freedom. The museum contains the printing press, which high profile revolutionaries like Vasil Levski used to print revolutionary propaganda to stirr up nationalistic feelings in the struggle against the Turks.

Churches

Well worth exploring is the Uspenie Bogorodichno Church, which was built by skilled Renaissance masters in 1817. the church was built on the site of the old church, which was burned to the ground by Turkish raiders and legend has it that the church was built in only 11 days. From the outside, the church looks like another Renaissance house and the reason for this is to attract as little attention as possible – crucial when the town was a constant target of bandits. Inside there is some amazing wood carved iconostatis resembling a delicate wooden cobweb entwined with Biblical figures and motifs. Other beautiful religious works of art hang in this church and all were painted by Bulgarian masters. St. Nikolai Church was constructed in 1842 by popular demand from the people of Koprivshtitsa. This church is interesting in that it is a cross between Turkish and Renaissance architectural styles. Inside the religious works of art are famous within Bulgaria.

Monuments

There are many interesting monuments in this town, most of which have some association with an historic battle or war. The Mausoleum of the April Uprising commemorates those who died during this failed attempt at freedom. It was constructed in 1928 and contains a small chapel of remembrance. The First Gun Monument stands near the Kaluchev bridge as a reminder that the first gunshot marking the start of the April Uprising was fired here. Another historic war memorial is the Common Grave, which was built in memory of those who died in the Second World War. The sculpture of revolutionary Georgi Benkovski galloping on his horse is situated in idyllic surroundings framed by a dense pine forest with views overlooking the town.

The Folk Festival

The National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore has been held in this town ever since 1965. It takes place on a hill on the outskirts of the town every five years and attracts musicians and performers from all over the country. It is the only music event in Bulgaria, which focuses on amateur performers. In addition to this festival there is a smaller annual gathering to celebrate folk music in August.