History of Etropole

ETROPOLE is situated in the picturesque valley of the Malki Iskar River, on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains, at the foot of Mount Baba (1787 m). Etropole valley is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks – Zvezdets, Shindarnika, St. Athanasius, Mara Gigya and others. The altitude of the valley is 550 m.

Etropole is located at 87 km northeast of Sofia.

Life here occured yet in prehistoric times. Earliest archaeological monuments found in Etropole area are stone axes and stone axes-hammers of the Bronze Age (III - II millennium BC).

Etropole arised as a Thracian settlement in VII - VI century BC. Economic well-being and development of the settlement was largely due to its location – near the ancient roads connecting the Danube with Macedonia and Thrace

During the I millennium BC, the Triballi were the Thracian tribe that inhabited the area, occupying a wide area on both sides of the Western Balkan. Most-numerous monuments remaining from that time are Thracian burial mounds and ruins of fortress in the Chertigrad, St. Athanasius, Ostruma.

In the years of the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdom Etropole was an important resupply center of iron, copper and gold for the Bulgarian state. The village had the status of a military community – the population was tasked to guard the passes.

In XV - XVII century the town was a center of mining and metalworking. Etropole with Samokov and Chiprovtzi are the largest suppliers of the Ottoman Empire with iron. Another important sector that provides livelihood for the local population was timber.

During the Renaissance Etropole was an important craft and trade center in the Bulgarian lands. The city is developing 42 craft: goldsmith, coppersmith, homespun, blacksmithing, production of goat's-hair rugs and bags, leather industry, carpentry, production of lead-tin ware, wine vessel making and more. Products of Etropole masters spread the fame of the city to Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, Alexandria, Odessa, Bucharest.

Economic prosperity and public-spirited population of Etropole were a factor for the development of education and literature in the valley. In the twelfth century (1158) the monastery “Holy Trinity" of Etropole was founded (known by the name “Varovitets”). It is located 5 km northeast of the city. At the end of the sixteenth century, and especially in the seventeenth century there arises Etropole literary-educational school that has no analogue in the Bulgarian lands at that time. Etropole icons of XVI - XVIII century prove the existence of an icon workshop in the monastery as well. Holy icon “Old Testament Trinity” painted by painter Nedialko in 1598 is known as the first signed by Bulgarian author medieval work. Etropole monastery are the most important spiritual center in the lands of northern Bulgaria during this period.

Etropole occupied a significant place in the history of the liberation of the Bulgarian people during the Renaissance. Etropole took part in the bands of Hadji Dimitar and Stefan Karadza, Khitov, Legion Rakovsky. In Hristo Botev's detachment involved three Etropole. In the case of Vasil Levski is connected on local revolutionary committee Etropolje in the fall of 1870 elected as Chairman etropoletsat Peev - revolutionary, teacher, writer, collaborator of Levski and Botev.

Significant place in the history of Etropole is the involvement in the Russo-Turkish War. On 24th of November 1877 the avant-garde detachment of the legendary General Gourko under the command of General Dandevil liberated Etropole. The headquarters of the General Gourko was accommodated in the house of the local master Paveul Panchov. Noble and unique was the heroism of Russian soldiers and the population of Etropole in winter crossing of the Balkan Mountains during the month of December 1877 on the way to the liberation of Sofia and South Bulgaria.

Etropole people take an active part in the Serbo-Bulgarian War, Balkan Wars, First and Second World Wars.

Course of history fatefully destined Etropole area with historical sites and monuments.

Today Etropole is welcoming and hospitable. The picturesque beauty and vibrant life of nestled in the Balkan town today reveal preserved renaissance houses – Arnaoudov’s, Pavelpanchov’s, Valchev’s, Todorvalkov’s, Hadzhigrigorov’s and others. Pride and a symbol of the greatness of Etropole is the clock tower, built in 1710 by master Todor.

Traditional holidays are preserved that are bringing joy to everyday Etropole: “Singing of the Rings”, “St. Athanasius dAY”, “Feast of Etropole sons-in-law”, “St. Peter day” – the holiday of the town.

Etropole attracts thousands of tourists with its natural beauties: the waterfall “Varovitets”, Chertigrad, Eagle stone, Grohotaka, Kozi Dol, Belikasha, Bachiyshte, Crow water and Dolls.

Buried in soft and pleasant greenery, refreshed by the clear sparkling streams, the Etropole area provide wonderful places for recreation.