Koprivshtitsa

Location:
111 km east of Sofia. The town is beautifully situated in the mountains. 

History:
One of the most charming small Bulgarian towns, which still preserves the atmosphere of the National Revival period. The town is a unique combination of a legendary history and fascinating present. Koprivshtitsa is a landmark in the nation’s history. It was here that the first bullet of the April Uprising against the Ottoman oppressors was fired in 1876. There is hardly a part of the town that hasn’t been named after an episode or participant in the April Rising of 1876, when Bulgaria’s yearnings for freedom from the Ottoman yoke finally boiled over. The 1870s were troubled in the Balkans, as a tired and corrupt Ottoman Empire tried to stem the tide of protest from the nationalities longing for independence. In Bulgaria, the rise in education and literacy brought about idealistic revolutionaries, such as Vasil Levski, Angle Kanchev, Lyuben Karavelov and Hristo Botev. Their strategy was based on the honored guerrilla methods of the “haiduti”-  Balkan outlaws who could survive for months in the mountains. The Rising started on April 20 by capturing the Ottoman Konak and dispatching the famous Bloody Letter. The Ottoman governor of Plovdiv sent irregular troops to suppress the Rising. The rebels burned a few small towns, and then took to the hills, where rain played havoc with their homemade gunpowder, and eventually they were hunted down. The village of Koprivshtitsa was not burnt. It survived unscathed to be admired by subsequent generations as a symbol of heroism. Despite many individual acts of bravery the Rising failed to win mass support, largely because the local civilians were too afraid of Turkish reprisals. However, the savagery of Ottoman reprisals against civilians in the aftermath of the Rising convinced the great powers of Europe that the Ottoman Empire could no longer be allowed a free hand to discipline its Balkan subjects. Tsar Aleksander II finally declared war in 1877, almost a year after the outbreak of the Rising. By the following January, the Ottomans were suing for peace, and Bulgarian independence was at last on the agenda.

Things to see:
Koprivshtiza’s charm lies in the colorful houses and numerous monuments lining the narrow cobbled streets of this picturesque town nestled at the foot of Sredna Gora Mountain. No other Bulgarian museum town boasts such a large number of houses and monuments - 383 in all, most of which have been restored to their original appearance. A unique collection of ethnographical treasures, old weapons, National Revival works of art, fine fretwork, household weaves and embroidery, national costumes and typical Bulgarian jewelry have also been preserved and are  well worth seeing. White stonewalls, overgrown with ivy and wild geranium fence the cozy gardens full of flowers. Vaulted stone bridges run across the bubbly Topolnitsa River. Heavy, iron-studded gates hide blue, yellow and red houses with verandas, bay windows and eaves. The spacious rooms are lit up by brightly colored rugs and cushions, carved ceilings and cupboards, copper vessels and ceramics. Specialists say that every house in Koprivshtitsa is a work of art. The Oslekov, Kableshkov and Lyutov houses are fine examples of this.

Photos from Koprivshtitsa


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