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Exploring Beyond Koprivshtitsa

Koprivshtitsa will keep visitors enchanted for a long time with its colourful houses and interesting historic background, but beyond this town there are many other treasures nestled into the foothills of the Sredna Gora Mountains and for those who are prepared to venture further afield, a trip to the capital just over 100 km away is well worth the effort if only to see the famous Panagyurishte Gold from this region.

 

 

The Sredna Gora Mountains

The Sredna Gora or Central Highlands is another of Bulgaria’s impressive mountain ranges. It is rich in oak and beech forests and the area contains numerous caves and hot mountain springs making it a perfect retreat for those who love nature, outdoor pursuits and relaxation. The mountains offer the ideal location for outdoor sports such as walking, riding, cycling and caving.
The world renowned Valley of the Roses lies between the Sredna Gora and the Balkan Mountains and is easily reached by car from Koprivshtitsa. This area is best visited in May when the roses are harvested by teams of local women. Yet year round it holds much for the culture hungry tourist with plenty of historic sites like the market town of Karlovo, where the 19th century rebel fighter Vasil Levski was born.


Panagyurishte


Panagyurishte is often overlooked by tourists mesmerised by the beauty of neighbouring Koprivshtitsa, yet it has a scenic location in the Sredna Gora Mountains and like its neighbour it too has historic roots tied to the April Uprising in 1876. It lies 39 km to the south of Koprivshtitsa and there are frequent bus services running between the two towns.

It is also famous for the gold treasure discovered here in 1949 and known as the Panagyurishte Gold, which is now housed in the National History Museum in Sofia. The treasure was found by accident by three brothers who worked at a local tile factory. They were out digging clay and stumbled on a shiny object in the ground. With a little more digging they found 6.146 kg of pure gold vessels.

The town’s skyline is dominated by a huge monument to honour those who fought in the April Uprising. The monument is made from granite and is located on a hill above the main square. Within the town, the large Orthodox churches, St. Georgi and St. Bogoroditsa are worth visiting. The former has two equally proportioned bell-towers rarely seen anywhere else in Bulgaria. There are also two museums, the Museum of Natural History and the Historical Museum. The town suffered severe destruction under the Ottoman Turks, but it still contains some splendid examples of Revival architecture; the Rayna Knyaginya and Marin Drinov Houses are both now museum houses.  Also worth seeing are the two theatre buildings, the Old Theatre and the New Theatre and the large, attractive public park. Fifteen kilometers from the town the resort known as the Panagyurski Kolonii is located. This mountain area is home to the summer mansions of many rich Bulgarians. There is also a hotel, restaurants and cafes and a ski run and a recently restored church. The area around the resort is stunning with ancient beech trees and vast open meadows, which are home to plenty of wildlife like wild boar, deer and foxes.


Klisura


The charming village of Klisura lies just 25 km to the north east of Koprivshtitsa. It too played its part in the April Uprising and many of the town’s buildings like the Church of St Nicholas, the local Historical Museum, and some of the Revival architecture in houses like Chervenakov's, Pavurdzhiev's and Kozinarov's fill the air with such historic moments. Klisura is a great place to enter the Central Balkan National Park and visit two of its most important mountain peaks, Vezhen in the Balkan Mountains and Bogdan in Sredna Gora. It is also renowned for the Zli Dol or Evil Glen, which is home to the tourist complex belonging to the Union of Bulgarian Drivers. The complex consists of around 15 houses and can sleep 60 people. There is a bar and restaurant and various sports facilities including horse riding stables.


Banya


The attractive spa resort of Banya is just a car ride away. It is located in the foothills of the Sredna Gora. The town is full of mineral springs and hotels offering spa treatments – it’s a great place for relaxing and pampering yourself. The area around the town is rich in ancient history and there are many Thracian burial mounds. It is also home to Banya Palace, the summerhouse of former king Boris III, who came here in 1927 for a cure for rheumatism and fell in love with the place. He decided to build a palace here and it was finished in 1929. Whilst it’s outward appearance is not characteristic of a royal palace it is worth visiting and gives testimony to how the rich lived during a time when the rest of the population was struggling. The gardens are also well laid out and worthy of mention.