Koprivshtitsa (Копривщица)

Location: Sofia Province  Map

Koprivshtitsa (Копривщица)


Description of Koprivshtitsa

Koprivshtitsa is a small town in Western Bulgaria located in the valley of Topolnitsa River in the heart of the Sredna Gora mountains. Much of the architecture of Koprivshtitsa belongs to the 19th century and it is of few remaining towns with characteristic Bulgarian architecture. The city took its place in history since this was the place where first shots of the April Uprising of 1876 were fired.


The Landmarks in Koprivshtitsa

Oslekov House (1853–1856), today an ethnographical museum
Georgi Benkovski Memorial House (1831)
Lyuben Karavelov Memorial House complex (1810–1835)
the Dimcho Debelyanov Memorial House (1830)
Todor Kableshkov Memorial House (1845)
Lyutov House (1854)
Nayden Gerov House
Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (1817)
Church of St Nicholas (1839)
Memorial Ossuary of 20 April housing the bones of those who died in the April Uprising (1926)
Bridge where the first shot of the uprising was fired in 1878, Kalachev most (1813)
Hadzhi Nencho Palaveev Community Centre (chitalishte) (1869)
Sts. Cyril and Methodius School (1837), the first class school in Bulgaria (1837)
Street of Handicrafts



Monument in memory of those who fought and died for Bulgarian liberation a mausoleum was erected to house the bones of Bulgarian heroes. Large statue on the hill is visible from some part of Koprivshtitsa. Another statue is barely visible, but unique in many ways. A memorial to mothers and wives of those who left and never returned from a battle with Turkish rule is one of its kind.


According to most researchers, the name of the town comes from nettle (or nettle), and Vladimir Georgiev considers it a translation of an earlier Thracian name (* Usdik (e), literally “nettle.” Another hypothesis proposed by Vasil Mikov connects the obsolete form of the name “Koprishitsa” with the Greek κοπριά (“stable”, “manure”).

Legends of Koprivshtitsa
Historians still do not agree on the establishment of the town of Koprivshtitsa.

Tradition for the Parish
It is assumed that the old roads connecting the towns of Zlatitsa, Pirdop and Klisura with Strelcha and Panagyurishte crossed at the site of today's Koprivshtitsa. Located in a valley covered with lush green grass, irrigated by the river Topolnitsa and its tributaries, the place was suitable for caravans, travelers and traders.

Due to the favorable natural conditions in the area settled an old Bulgarian family with their herds - the so-called "parish". They started a new settlement. As the number of people in the parish increased, the houses increased and small home communities were formed. Almost every relative received a nickname - Tihanek, Kozlek, Duplek, Lomek due to specific traits, activities and events related to him. From there came the names of the newly created neighborhoods, some of them remain as surnames to this day.

In support of this theory is the fact that part of the Lambovska (Cocoon) neighborhood is still called Zupata. This part is a small square located in the center of the neighborhood. In 1922, a fountain called "Raina" or "Rainovets" was erected on the southwest wall surrounding the square. Its patrons are women from the local Annunciation Society. This part of the neighborhood is also called "The Burnout".

The boyar from Rila
Another legend tells of a young woman who settled on the site of today's Koprivshtitsa, as the area seemed suitable for raising cattle. Shortly after her arrival, she went to Edirne (present-day Turkey), where she begged the Sultan for a decree, through which she became ruler of Koprivshtitsa, and the village received great privileges. In this firman for the first time the sultan called Koprivshtitsa Avratalan - "women's meadow", a name that was then often used by the Turks. Legend has it that a Turk with a shod horse was not allowed to pass through the village, and its inhabitants were free to carry weapons. Out of gratitude and respect for the boyar, the people of Koprivshtitsa called her Sultankata, and her descendants were called Sultanekovi for many years.

It is possible that these two versions of the creation of Koprivshtitsa are connected. In the initial period after the settlement of the old parish, the family ties were very close. For this reason, people from Koprivshtitsa did not marry each other, but looked for women from elsewhere. It is possible that one of the members of the parish of noble origin and prosperity married a girl of a boyar family.

A city created by refugees
There are assumptions that after the fall of Bulgaria under Turkish rule in the area settled refugees - descendants of large Bulgarian families, merchants, herders with their herds. Among them were three shepherds - Lambo, Toroman and Arnautin ("Arnauts" called Albanians and Bulgarians from the Macedonian areas adjacent to Albania). They created small family communities, which grew over time and gave the names of the existing neighborhoods in the city - Toroman neighborhood, Lambovska and Arnaut neighborhood.

In the middle of the 18th century the inhabitants of Koprivshtitsa sued for pastures with those of Strelcha. At that time, both settlements belonged to the waqf of Mihrimah, the deceased daughter of Sultan Suleiman I.

Legend of the Snotty Stones
In the 18th - 19th century, when Koprivshtitsa had nearly 12,000 inhabitants, the management of the then village was in the form of a matriarchy. As cattle breeding and handicrafts were not a sufficient source of livelihood, men went abroad en masse. A few kilometers from the village, the road to Pazardzhik and Plovdiv, leading the emigrants to Constantinople and the Middle East, before descending to Strelcha, meanders through an area dotted with stone moraines. Families have sent fathers and brothers to this place on the long and risky journey. The separation was difficult and many tears were shed there for years. Thus the stone heaps acquired their bitter-ironic name - the Snotty Stones.

History of the city

Under Ottoman rule
Koprivshtitsa (Turkish Avratalan, Women's Field) is the main military village in Sredna Gora and is located 10 hours drive from Plovdiv. The legend of the Rila boyar, who asked the sultan for a settlement, is reflected in his Ottoman name. Among the great privileges that the village receives is the prohibition for a Turk not to pass through this place on horseback, and for the people of Koprivshtitsa to wear colorful clothes, high hats, to ride good horses and to use good weapons. These acquisitions undoubtedly confirm the military status of the village, as the Koprivshtitsa soldiers in the ranks of the Turkish army reached Offen and Vienna. They lived relatively freely without paying large taxes like the rest of the population of the Bulgarian lands and soon the number of inhabitants of the village reached 10,000 people. Balaban, a hero who showed courage in the wars with the Austrians, a resident of Koprivshtitsa asked for a new decree for his hometown, according to which Koprivshtitsa is directly subordinate to the sultan and that it, except for the contribution to the Constantinople Fethiye Mosque, is free of any taxes. ; that local chiefs had the right to wear special hats and that only a Turkish official subordinate to the chiefs there would live there.
Due to the privileges enjoyed by the people of Koprivshtitsa, they maintained their prosperity even after the fall of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule. The riches of the town attracted the people of Kardzhali, who three times - in 1793, 1804 and 1809 - robbed it, burned it and drove out its inhabitants, leaving only the "Pavlikyanska house" from the first settlement. During the attack in 1793, Koprivshtitsa refugees were scattered from Plovdiv to Edirne and Dimotika. Thanks to their patriotism, ingenuity and diligence, the people of Koprivshtitsa managed to revive the city and preserve its magical charm to this day.
In 1867 around the feast of St. Trinity Vasil Levski came to Koprivshtitsa and created the first Revolutionary Committee. Its members are Petko Boyadzhiev, Ivancho Hristov, Tsoko Budin - a jelepin merchant, Nesho Popbraikov - a teacher, and others. The committee does not have a precise program of action, but is guided by apostles through visits or letters. The Apostle V. Levski wants information about men fit to fight with weapons, food supplies and hiding places around the village in the mountains. Thus, the Apostle of Freedom prepares the spirits of the people of Koprivshtitsa for a future uprising. In 1868 Levski came again to Koprivshtitsa, and before being captured by the Turks, he again visited the awake Balkan village. On April 20, 1876, the April Uprising broke out. Two detachments were quickly formed and sent to surround the konak and the prisons in it. Here, on the Kalachev Bridge, the first rifle fires. The group, led by Georgi Tihanek, accidentally met Kara Hussein Hajduk on the road on the Kalach Bridge and Tihanek shot him. This is the first Turk killed in the uprising. The uprising was announced by Todor Kableshkov, and was led by another Koprivshtitsa resident - Gavrail Hlatev, known for generations as Georgi Benkovski - the indomitable and ardent leader of the popular uprising, who died heroically in the Teteven Balkans. On May 1, the bashibozuk began to gather around Koprivshtitsa, supported by a regular army that had artillery. The Turks number about 5,000 people. It is led by Hafez Pasha. He has already destroyed Panagyurishte and is sending his assistant, Miralay Hassan Bey, to "take care" of Koprivshtitsa. The rebels were betrayed by the chorbadjii. They entered into negotiations with Hassan Bey, handing over even the wooden cannons to the Turks and paying a ransom. However, the bashibozuk invaded Koprivshtitsa and it was looted and the inhabitants slaughtered. On May 3, Hassan Bey entered the devastated village and, on his orders, the captured rebels were sent to court in Plovdiv. Soon Hafez Pasha arrives and plunders the city again.

Bulgarian Revival
Establishment of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1817)
Establishment of the school "St. St. Cyril and Methodius ”(1837)
Founding of the Temple of the Father "Our Father Nicholas" (1839)
Establishment of the National Chitalishte (1869) with the author of the Chitalishte statute teacher Naiden Popstoyanov.
April 20, 1876 - on this date (in the old style) in Koprivshtitsa the April Uprising was announced.
Georgi Tihanek on "Kalachev Bridge" fired the first shot of the uprising.
Todor Kableshkov wrote the famous Bloody Letter.
Naiden Gerov, "Dictionary of the Bulgarian Language with Interpretation of Speeches in Bulgarian and Russian" (1895 - 1904).
Archimandrite Euthymius, compiler. "Jubilee collection on the past of Koprivshtitsa" (1926)

After the Liberation


The first museum in Koprivshtitsa was arranged in 1930 in the community center. This is a general museum collection with different departments: history, ethnography, revolutionary movement, prominent citizens of Koprivshtitsa, etc. In 1935, the museum, already significantly enriched, was located on the first floor of the Kableshkova House, and the first "full-time" museum worker was appointed.
The Koprivshtitsa anarcho-communist detachment operated in the town and the region, organized the attack in Arabakonak, as well as the partisan brigade "Georgi Benkovski".
The destruction of the city was stopped with the declaration of Koprivshtitsa as a city museum in 1952. In 1971 it received the status of an architectural and historical reserve, and in 1978 - a national architectural reserve of international importance and a settlement for international tourism. Dimcho Debelyanov's first cousin - arch. Velyo Debelyanov and Petko Teofilov.
In 1956 in Koprivshtitsa a Directorate of Museums was established in order to preserve, preserve and promote the cultural and historical heritage of the city.
In the 1970s, a significant restoration and conservation of museums, cultural monuments, and the streets of the city, which was declared a national historical reserve, was undertaken. The decision was made on June 29, 1971 by the Second Government of Todor Zhivkov. In ten years, the state has invested BGN 28 million in the construction of 400 new houses and 100 new sites. The most significant monument built as a result of this decision is that of Georgi Benkovski.