Lovech

Location:
Lovech is situated within 150 km from Sofia, at the very place where the Danube plain meets the foot of Stara Planina Mountain. Surrounded by rigid hills and unspoiled broad-leaved forests, Lovech strikes with its unspoiled nature and centuries - old culture.

History:
The town of Lovech and the settlements in the surrounding area share ancient history. Originally built by the Thracians under the name Melta, the town received the name Presidium when it became part of the Roman Empire. The Slavs built the Hissarya fortress here during the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom (7 - 11century AD.) and it was here where after two centuries of Byzantine rule the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was established  by the signing of the peace treaty between Bulgaria and Byzantium in 1185.Culture and agriculture continued to flourish in Lovech during the Ottoman rule and by the 17th century the city had developed into one of the country’s most important commercial centres with  traders from Lovech travelling far beyond the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. During   the War of Liberation (1878 – 88), the population of Lovech decreased dramatically and the city declined. Throughout the Communist regime it was turned into one of the heavy industry centres of North Bulgaria. With the establishment of democracy in the 90s, the city went through an economical reorganization and today it mostly relies on tourism, food production and processing.

Things to see:
In the city:
Walking down the old Roman road that leads through the so-called “Broken” rock, it is easy to understand why Lovech is called the “Town of the Lilacs”. The scent of this delicate flower doesn’t leave this place even in winter. From the highest point next to the walls of Hissarya Fortress, the lilac trees spread as far as the eye can see. The River Osam picturesquely cuts thorough the rocky hills and then flowing through the central parts of Lovech, where the symbol of the city“The Covered Bridge” - a masterpiece of Bulgarian architecture connects the two parts of the historical Varosha quarter. Master Kolio Ficheto - arguably the most skilful Bulgarian architect during the Ottoman rule, constructed the bridge back in 1872 without the use of any nails, joints or cement. The original Bridge consisted of wooden roof and was supported by massive stone columns. Similar to the Florentine Ponte Vecchio, the Lovech Bridge had many small shops under one roof to representing the master’s idea of a real market street. Today on the bridge there are still many souvenir shops and galleries where you can find bits and pieces to keep the memory of this charming place forever.

The Varosha Quarter of Lovech has preserved the 19th century spirit of the town with its narrow, cobbled streets, high stone fences and rustic houses. Here you can find The Vasil Levski Ethnographic Complex and Residence Museum. Vasil Levski (1837-1873) was one of the greatest Bulgarian patriots and leaders of the Resistance during the Ottoman rule. He was eventually captured by the Ottoman authorities however his passion for preserving the Bulgarian spirit, culture and independence still lives in the many museums and monuments dedicated to him around the country. The Karkina Inn, where Levski was captured is now a museum situated 19 km away from Lovech.

Another place of interest is the Bash Bunar Park named after one of the three hills surrounding the town. It features caves of various sizes, most famous of which - The Vasil Levski Cave and the Tabashkata Cave, where traces of life dated back to the Paleolithic Age and the Bronze Age were discovered. The park is inviting with its vast green landscapes, the Liliac trees and the rigid rocky massifs along the Osam river banks. For those who love a nice walk outdoors combined with a visit of the second biggest zoo in Bulgaria, the Stratesh Hill Park, in the northern part of Lovech would be a great place to visit.  Apart from the beautiful artificial lakes and romantically curving alleys lined with flowerbeds, the park features “The Alley of the Bulgarian - Russian friendship” - a monument dedicated to the bravery of the Russians soldiers who lost their lives in the battle for the liberation of Lovech on 22.08.1877.

Outside the city:
There are plenty of opportunities for eco tourism, biking and walking tracks in the Lovech region as well as interesting rock formations and caves to explore.

The Devetashka Cave is about 18 km out of town and it is the biggest of 60 caves on the Devetash Plateau. It was discovered in 1921 and according to the archaeologists it has sheltered people since the Paleolithic era. The cave is about 1500 meters deep and has an impressive 35 meter-high entrance hall. The cascade waterfalls inside the cave make an imposing spectacle. In May the annual festival “Lilac musical days” is held inside the huge entrance chamber of the cave.

The Krushunski Waterfalls are a very popular natural phenomenon near Lovech, situated within a beautiful park with a number of facilities for the visitors ( picnic grounds, restaurants and a multitude of walking trails).  The waterfalls are the highest travertine falls in Bulgaria and are famous for the marvellous blue colour of the water. The trail around the waterfalls, equipped with bridges, stairs and viewing platforms allows multiple viewing points towards the waterfalls.

The Archeological reserve in the village of Staro Stefano - one of the oldest settlements in the Lovech region is some 20 km away from Lovech. As an ethnographical complex, the village features more than 100 buildings from the middle of the 19th century and preserves the authentic atmosphere of a typical Bulgarian town from that time.

The mountain resort of Beklemeto, just 35 km out of Lovech offers great conditions for winter tourism and is an ideal starting point for a myriad of hiking routes in the Stara Planina Mountain.

The village of Chiflika is situated on the upper part of the river Beli Osam surrounded by deep forests and beautiful mountain landscapes. The natural mineral water springs in the village have a flow of 3000 litters per minute and the temperature of the water is 52 °C. There are many spa centres and guest houses inviting the visitors for a relaxing spa escape.

Ribaritsa is a charming village near the town of Teteven in Stara Planina Mountain.  Its picturesque location and the various options for mountaineering, trekking and spa tourism have turned the place into an attractive spot for all nature lovers who can find nice and cosy shelter in one of the many guest houses and villas in the village.

A famous religious and cultural sight of the Lovech district is the Glozhensky Monastery perched on a rock above the village of Glozhene in Stara Planina Mountain. The sanctuary dates back to the 14th century and is wrapped up in legends and myths. The stunning view of the Danube plain and the highest mountain  peaks in the  Central Balkan Natural park  along with the mysterious healing powers of some of the icons kept in the monastery  have  always attracted Bulgarian and foreign visitors in the area.

Photos from Lovech


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