Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Travel Guide to Gabrovo, Bulgaria

With a population of over 67,000 residents, Gabrovo sits in the Northern foot of the Balkan Mountain along the banks of the Yantra River. Gabrovo is a pleasing mix of cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, and bakeries. As you stroll along the narrow streets, the comforting scent of coffee and fresh bread fills the air.

Gabrovians are welcoming people who love sharing their town with tourists. If you can, time your trip to coincide with the town's carnival. During the carnival, the town springs to life with colours and sounds.

  • Province: Gabrovo
  • Population: 73,056 (Year 2005)
  • Altitude: 329 Metres
  • Postcode: 5300
  • Area Code: 066
  • Geographic Coordinates: 42° 52' North, 25° 20' East
History

There is evidence that the area to become Gabrovo was originally settled during the Neolithic period. The Gradishte Fortress is one of Bulgaria's best preserved. It is thought that the area was inhabited by Thracians, Romans, medieval Bulgarians, and Ottomans.

During the Middle Ages, the area of Gabrovo was built into the Balkan passages. Researchers believe that a blacksmith named Racho Kovacha established the area because blacksmiths could make a fortune building weapons for troops going into the mountains. By the end of the 12th century, the area had become a prime area for trades. The name Gabruva is noted in 1430, but by the 17th century the name had changed to Gabrovo. By the 19th century, Gabrovo was the area to which craftsmen and blacksmiths flocked. The location along the paths into the Balkan Mountains brought many travellers through the area.

In 1882, the first textile factory was built. This helped shift the area from being one of trade to a nicely balanced town of trade and industry.

Site Seeing

The carnival is Gabrovo's most popular celebration and attraction. Once a year in May, the celebration begins when the Mayor cuts the ceremonial tail off the cat. The Gabrovian Cat is the town symbol and it leads off a huge celebration of parades, concerts, and merriment.

The National Museum of Education and the Town Historical Museum are open six days a week in the summer.

Gabrovo's biggest claim to fame is the House of Humour and Satire. The 8,000 square metre plot is home to comedians, jokes, and satirical performances. It is a great way to let your hair down and share a laugh or two.

The State Puppet Theatre is open year round and offers brilliant performances of puppetry. These shows will please both young and old. Don’t miss it!

The Gradishte Fortress was built during the early Byzantine period. Located three kilometres from the town centre, Gradishte Fortress is one of the area's most popular sites.

The Monument of Racho Kovacha, the town's founder per the legends, is located on a rock near the river. This monument is perfect for picture taking.

Near the monument is a small zoo and observatory. Open Monday through Friday, children will be delighted with all the things they can see and do.

The Sokolski Monastery was created in 1833. Twelve kilometres from Gabrovo's centre, the temple offers impressive architectural feature.

Lulasite is located sixteen kilometres from Gabrovo. Known as the Lilac Resort, the air permeates with the floral scent. The area's claim to fame is the reported healing qualities for those suffering from asthma and other lung issues.

The Gabrovo Orchestra began in 1960. Every year, the orchestra performs songs ranging from Dixie to swing. The Gabrovo Camera Orchestra includes sixteen string instruments and attempts to recreate the sounds of many ancient instruments. The Gabrovo Camera Orchestra only performs in September.

Created in 1976, the Gabrovo Mime Theatre offers yearly performances. The group tours throughout Europe and has won many awards.

Built in 1835, the Tower Clock was built by Ivan Sahatchiyata and the bell came from Vienna. At almost 28 metres, the tower is one of the tallest in Bulgaria.

The Dechovo House was built in 1835 as well. This is one of Bulgaria's finest examples of Balkan Architecture. There is a great display of period furnishings within the home.

Accommodation

The Lulyatsite Hotel Complex is located at the foot of the Balkan Range. The hotel is extremely inexpensive. There are a total of 17 single rooms, 44 double rooms, and 9 suites. Children under the age of two stay free.

Prima S Hotel Complex is located on the outskirts of Gabrovo. The 21 double rooms, 4 suites, and 6 four-bedroom units can handle a number of guests. The hotel houses a spa, outdoor swimming pools, poolside bars and barbecue areas, and a bar with an in-house DJ.

With 31 beds, Geographic Centre Hotel offers horseback riding, tennis, volleyball, swimming, hiking, and outdoor barbecues. A forty-seat restaurant is part of the hotel.

Seven kilometres from Gabrovo, the Balani Complex sits in the middle of the forest. Twenty-eight beds make up the total accommodation. An outdoor swimming pool with a swim-up bar is one of the hotel's highlights.

Gabrovo Hotel is a three minute drive from the town centre. Thirty beds are split between double rooms, single rooms, and suites. Rooms include television sets, telephones, and minibars.

Industry

Much of Gabrovo's economy comes from tradesmen and craftsmen. More than 47% of the industrial base comes from plumbers, construction workers, electricians, smiths, and other trades. Manufacturing is the second largest component in the area's economy with 19% of the area's revenue coming from local manufacturers (metal working is the largest manufacturing business in Gabrovo.) Hotels and restaurants is the third largest industry.

Gastronomy

Gabrovo is known for its traditional Balkan cuisine. Three dishes stand out as area favorites. Tetevenska Salamoura is a fish broth made from a blend of fish, crabs, hot peppers, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, parsley, dill, and salt. Byal Muzh finds fried cheese being blended with butter and honey. Greyana Rakiya is plum brandy that is heated and served warm with honey and lime blossoms.

You can sample traditional Bulgarian cuisine at Stranopriemnitsa. This is a friendly restaurant with a nice selection of indoor and outdoor seating. The Bulgarian Red Cross Restaurant has 310 seats, 220 are outside. The restaurant serves a nice balance of French, Dutch, and Bulgarian cuisine. Bolyari Pub has 48 seats and offers grilled specialties with a nice selection of salads and relishes.

Nightlife

Some of the area hotels offer bars with DJs spinning popular music. There are no dance clubs or discos in the area, so tourists may need to head to larger cities if they are looking for dance clubs. Otherwise, head to the local bars and taverns for cold drinks and excellent conversations.

Summary

With a nice array of picturesque streets and fine restaurants, Gabrovo is an excellent location for tourists. You can base yourself in any of the area's hotels and then travel to neighbouring city and towns. This will enable you to see many of Bulgaria's greatest sights. Definitely bring your camera; you will not want to miss the photogenic qualities that Bulgaria offers.