Description of Lovech

Lòvech (in Bulgarian: Ловеч) is a city in northern Bulgaria, capital of the Province of Lovech. Lovech has a population of about 50 000 inhabitants. It is located 150 km from Sofia, and in its surroundings are the cities of Pleven, Troyan and Teteven. Lovech is one of the oldest cities in Bulgaria. Signs of human settlements date back to prehistoric times. Nearby caves like Saeva Dupka Cave provided a shelter for wandering hunters. First permanent city here was established by a Thracian tribe of the Meldi in the 3rd- 4th centuries BC. Known at the time as Melta it quickly became their capital. Today its area roughly correspondents to the Old Quarter of Lovech (Varosha). Romans eventually conquered the region setting their military camping near today's New City. Although little has remained from Prezidium, several Roman Roads from a time period have been preserved.


In the Middle Ages, the fortress was the seat of the later Bulgarian rulers Ivan Assen I and Theodor Peter. In 1187, the peace treaty with Byzantium was signed here, which sealed the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire. During the Ottoman rule, the city was an important artisan and commercial center and was called because of its prosperity Altan Lovech ("Golden Lovech"). The revolutionary Vasily Levski (1837-1873) chose the city as the seat of internal resistance and struggle for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish occupation.

In the vicinity of Lovech existed during the communist rule, a labor camp in which many opponents of the regime were murdered. The training in the camp was mostly politically motivated. Reasons for this could be: the destruction of Stalin memorials, assistance to enemy (German) soldiers, membership of the Roman Catholic Church in Bulgaria or the Farmers' Union, a training completed in non-communist countries, espionage for "Anglo-American capitalism" or Criticism of the presence of the Red Army in Bulgaria etc.


Travel Destinations in Lovech

Lovech Castle, Hisarja or Hisarya Fortress (Lovech)


Lovech Old Quarters (Varosha)

Covered Bridge of Lovech

Covered Bridge of Lovech

The Covered Bridge is one of the main symbols of Lovech. It crosses Osam River and unites the Old Quarters (Varosha) with the newer parts of Lovech. The original structure of the bridge was destroyed in the flood of 1872. So the whole city contributed to the rebuilding of Lovech Covered Bridge under supervision of self- taught architect Kolyu Ficheto. Needless to say this example of team work is still a source of pride of locals population. Covered Bridge of Lovech was erected from 1874 to 1876. In all the Covered Bridge is measured at 106 meters long and 10 meters wide. The base of the bridge is made from stones, while the rest of the bridge is wooden. There are more than 60 shops and workshops lining the central passageway of the Covered Bridge. Originally Lovech Covered Bridge was decorated with sculptures of a lion, two headed eagle, staff with a ball shaped hear and a woman's bust. Today only relief of a lion survives to this day.

In 1925 Covered Bridge was completely burned. From 1927 to 1931 new bridge was reconstructed on the same location and on the same stone support bases. This time engineers used concrete to create a better insulation against future natural disasters, but they are indistinguishable from its wooden predecessor.


Museum of Vasil Levski (Lovech)

This museum is dedicated to the "apostle of freedom" as Vasil Levski is known today. This prominent Bulgarian political hero who lived in the 19th century, when Bulgaria was under yolk of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Vasil Ivanov Kunchev more commonly known under his pseudo name Levski organised an underground movement dedicated to a fight against the Turks.


Historical Museum of Lovech

Historical Museum of Lovech is one of the largest and most famous museum in the city. it was originally found on February 10th, 1895 and contained 570 various artefacts that were gathered voluntarily from the residents of the city. After several generations and dedicated work of historical museum workers the collection dedicated to the history of the town numbers over 60,000 historical and ethnographic items from the city of Lovech and its surrounding villages. Historical museum is broken into four thematic sections: "Archaeology", "History of Bulgaria 15th- 19th centuries", "Ethnography" and "New and modern history of Bulgaria". Additionally there is a laboratory inside museum dedicated to preserve and restore historical items. But it is closed to the public.


Ethnographic Museum (Lovech)

Ethnographic Museum of Lovech is situated in two houses that are erected in close proximity to each other. One of these is known as a Drasov (Drasova) Memorial House and Rashov (Rashova) Memorial House. This museum contains an exhibition that recreates home decor and daily lives of residents of Lovech in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


History of Lovech

Lovech is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria. Traces of human activity date back to ancient times, for which the favorable location of the city between the mountains and the plain, as well as the presence of a river play a decisive role. The remains found in the Lovech caves testify to an active human presence from the Old Stone, New Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. In the IV-III century BC. the Thracians live here. The main source for the study of their lives are the Thracian burials from the surrounding villages of Smochan, Slatina, Goran, Slavyani and Doyrentsi, as well as the finds from the hill "Hisarya" and the central part of the city. After the conquest of the Thracians by the Romans in the first century AD. on the Roman road map is marked the way station Melta, which is located in today's Lovech. Later, a Roman way station called the Presidium was built here. It is located on the Roman road, part of which can be seen today in the vicinity of the city. Through the station the city participates in the Roman transport connection Escus-Storgozia-Trimontium and Serdica-Odessos.

Remains of a late antique church have been found on Hissarya Hill. The materials found during excavations on the hill testify to the settlement of Slavs in the early VI century.

The Middle Ages
There is little information about the development of the city during the First Bulgarian State. They are mainly from the discovered medieval necropolis from the X century in the area "Bash Bunar". In the XI century the city is mentioned in connection with the invasion of the Pechenegs and their military actions with Byzantium in 1059.

The medieval fortress of Lovech has been known since the time of the Second Bulgarian State. It is located on a hill, which was later called "Hisarya". Here in 1187 was the decisive battle between the rebel army of Assenevtsi and Byzantium. The signed peace treaty marks the recognition of the Second Bulgarian State.

In the 14th century Lovech was owned by despot Ivan Alexander of the Shishman family, son of despot Sratsimir and Keratsa Petritsa. In 1331 Ivan Alexander was elected Bulgarian king. During his time in the vicinity of the city was built and functioned as a literary center the monastery "Nativity of the Virgin", also called "Hawk". Around 1324 - 1325 in Lovech was born the Bulgarian king Ivan Sratsimir, the second son of Ivan Alexander from his first marriage to the Vlach Theodora Basarab.

The Lovech fortress was among the last conquered during the Ottoman invasion. The town was defended by the boyar Stanko Kosan until about 1446. In 1520 it was described in the Ottoman tax register. Information about the city from the 17th century is given by Hadji Kalfa, Filip Stanislavovic and Evliya Celebi. According to the latter, the city is a trade and craft center:
This city is flourishing. It is located on both sides of the Osam River and is connected by three bridges. There are a total of 3,000 large and solid houses. Most of them are covered with Wallachian boards, and some of the walls are very decorated. From the windows and crevices of the houses located along the Osam River, farmers can fish. There are also stone barns (palaces) and 7 small and large inns. The Bazaar Khan is magnificent and looks like a bezisten. The city has 2 bathrooms, 3 madrasas, 5 teketes, 6 children's schools (Bulgarian children are very noble and smart), 6 fountains with life-giving water, 215 shops. The most famous products of its inhabitants are the colorful fabrics and the various sahtians, which become very nicely decorated.

The first information about the development of the city during the era of the Bulgarian Revival is given by the travelers Ami Bue, Felix Kanitz. The main crafts here are tobacco, iron, abadji, kaftandji and others. Lovchantsi are also good grocers, bakers, halachi, coffee makers, porters, etc., which shows a diverse economic activity. To this should be added the commercial activity in the market of the Ottoman Empire and Europe. At the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century the town was named Alton Lovech (Golden Lovech) because of its wealth. From 1780 to 1784 Lovech developed most rapidly. According to some data, the population exceeds 20,000 inhabitants. Approximately such a population (19,575 inhabitants) the city reached again only in 1959. Administratively, the longest time was said to the Nikopol Sandzak, and later - to the Tarnovo Sandzak.


The cultural development is based on the activity of the Nativity of the Mother of God Monastery. His most famous manuscripts are Trebnik (preserved in the Rila Monastery) and the transcript of the Boril Synod (preserved in St. Petersburg). On January 1, 1870 the Lovchani Chitalishte "Nauka" was established. A library was arranged next to it, fairy tales, parties, Sunday readings were performed, and in the same year the first theatrical play "Raina Knyaginya" was performed.

In the Varosha neighborhood, free and accessible for all children schools were opened: Gornokraysko and Dolnokraysko (1846-1847), and in 1870 a girls' school. Petko Slaveykov was a teacher at the Gornokray school in 1847-1849. In 1872 the teacher Mikhail Radoslavov introduced the sound method of teaching and the age distribution of students in classes.

During the Russo-Turkish wars of the 19th century, the city often had operational significance for the course of hostilities. During the Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812), Russian troops twice captured Lovech. On October 18, 1810 by the detachment of Major General Mikhail Vorontsov and on January 31, 1811 by the detachment of Major General Emanuel Saint-Prix. These actions prevented the Ottoman advance in Northern Bulgaria. During the Russo-Turkish War (1828 - 1829) a Russian column with Adjutant General Pavel Kiselyov captured the city on September 30, 1829.

Lovech is known as the center of the Internal Revolutionary Organization of Vasil Levski. The Lovech Private Revolutionary Committee was proclaimed the "Provisional Government" (Internal Central Revolutionary Committee). Levski regularly visited the city in the period 1869 - 1872.

In 1872 - 1874 master Nikola Fichev built the only Covered Bridge of its kind in the Balkans. It was subsequently burned to the ground (1925) and rebuilt in 1931.

Russo-Turkish War (1877 - 1878)
During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Lovech was twice liberated by Russian troops. This happened for the first time on July 5, 1877 by a small cavalry detachment of Colonel Alexei Zherebkov. On July 15, 1877, Russian forces were forced to withdraw due to an offensive by units of the Western Ottoman Army (Commander Rifat Pasha). The city was plundered and destroyed. About 2,600 civilians from Lovech and surrounding villages were killed. After repelling Suleiman Pasha's attacks at the Shipka Pass, the Russian General Staff decided to take Lovech. The task was assigned to Major General Alexander Imeretinski with a detachment of 22,693 officers and soldiers, consisting of 25, 12 infantry battalions, 13 Cossack hundreds, 12.2 artillery batteries with 98 cannons and a 1/8 sapper battalion. On August 22, Russian troops, divided into two columns, under the command of Major General Mikhail Skobelev and Major General Vladimir Dobrovolsky, liberated Lovech. The grateful citizens of Lovech perpetuated their liberation by placing the White Monument and the Black Monument on Stratesh Hill.

After the Liberation
During the Liberation, the population decreased dramatically. The victims among the Bulgarian population during the fighting in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) are significant. Most Turks emigrated. Immediately after the Liberation, free Lovech numbered only 4,500 people. In retaliation, the Turks killed 4,000-4,500 Bulgarians overnight, beheaded by the army's Turkish bashibozuk. In the period of 500 years in Lovech about 20,000 Bulgarians were killed.

As a result of the war, the system of local Bulgarian government was created. It is carried out by the Lovech city municipality. The first elected mayor of Lovech is Ivan Drasov. During the first 22 years of free Bulgaria Lovech was a district center for Lovech, Troyan and Teteven districts. Since 1901 it has been a district center.

In the municipal elections after the end of the First World War in 1920, the BCP won a majority in the Municipal Council of Lovech. The municipal council elects Nikola Iliev as mayor. To mitigate the effects of the post-war crisis, he pursued an active social policy. In 1921 the management of the municipality was dissolved by the government of Alexander Stamboliiski.

In 1921 - 1927 the railway line from Levski to Lovech was built, which connects the city with the railway network of the country. During the Second World War, after the great bombing of Sofia on January 10, 1944, the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" was evacuated in Lovech.

Lovech became a county town in 1959 and a regional center in 1987.

The Sunny Beach Camp (1959 - 1962)

In 1959, in the stone quarry near Lovech, the communist authorities built a labor camp called "TG" (labor group) under the leadership of division 1248 "VI" of the Ministry of Interior, Sofia, and from the summer of 1961 - of division 10 001 . Sofia. It is secret and one of the most brutal camps in Bulgaria. People were detained in the camp without trial or conviction for "subversive activities", forgery of documents, telling jokes against communist rulers, former agricultural deputies, and young people sent by local People's Militia administrations as "hooligans". Of the 1,501 people who passed through the concentration camp near Lovech, 155 fell victim to killings and the extremely severe regime. In September 1961, about 150 women from the camp were transferred to the village of Skravena. The camp near Lovech was closed in April 1962 after an inspection by the top communist leadership found violations of the law, severe regime and physical violence, but no one was held criminally liable.

The camp is located at the junction for the village of Hlevene on the right in the direction of Troyan and consists of several barracks left by the youth brigade, which in 1947/8 built n. the Lovech-Troyan line.