Kardzhali (Turkish: Kırcaali; Greek: Κάρντζαλι) is a town in southern Bulgaria. It is the center of Kardzhali district and Kardzhali municipality. The population of the town of Kardzhali as of 31.12.2018 is 43 263 people. It is located 47 km from the town of Haskovo, 84 km from the town of Smolyan, 95 km from the town of Plovdiv, 111 km from the town of Stara Zagora, 243 km from Sofia, 78 km from Gyumyurjina and 383 km from Istanbul.

Kardzhali is located in the heart of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, on both banks of the Arda River. The nearest other regional town is Haskovo at a distance of approximately 50 km, and about 15 km from Kardzhali is the ancient rock town of Perperek (also called Perperikon), declared a monument of immovable cultural heritage of national importance since 1968, as follows : "Kardzhali District .... № 4. 1. Location - S. Gorna krepost; 2. Name - Medieval fortress" Perperek "; 3. Type - Architectural construction from Antiquity and the Middle Ages; 4. Announced in SG No. 67 / 1968; 5. Update of borders and regimes - letter № 6442 from 07.08.2007 / protocol from 12.07.2007 / ". The Pan-European Transport Corridor 9 passes through Kardzhali through the Makaza Pass. The distance from the regional center to the border with the Hellenic Republic at the Makaza-Nymphaea border checkpoint is 54 km.

Administrative partition
The town of Kardzhali includes the quarters Borovets, Baikal, Studen Kladenets, Vazrozhdentsi, Veselchane, Gledka, Gorna Gledka, the zones Industrial Zone A, Industrial Zone B, Eastern Industrial Zone, Industrial Zone South. Nearby are the villages of Prileptsi (№ 6 on the city plan), Rezbartsi, Petlino, Airovo, Opalchensko, Propast, Sipei.

The climate in the area is continental-Mediterranean, mild and humid, with many sunny days a year. The winter is relatively mild - average temperatures vary around 0 ° C. The summer is sunny and hot, the maximum temperatures reach 40 - 45 ° С. The longest sunshine in Kardzhali is observed in June, July and August.



Kardzhali Monastery
The Kardzhali Monastery "St. John the Forerunner" is an early medieval Bulgarian ensemble with a fortress wall and towers, with early Christian roots and ancient past. After archeological research and excavations in the second half of the XX century, in the 90s of the XX century restoration works were undertaken and since 2000 the restored church has been consecrated and a regular service is held in it. The remains of the church "St. John the Forerunner", as well as the medieval ensemble, were declared separately as cultural monuments of national importance in 1968, as follows: "District of Kardzhali .... Г 6. Gr. Kardzhali, Veselchani quarter, Medieval church - in the yard of DAP, Architectural and construction from Antiquity and the Middle Ages (sic!) - SG No. 67/1968 and № 7. Gr. Kardzhali, Veselchani quarter, Medieval necropolis - opposite the yard of DAP, Architectural and construction from Antiquity and the Middle Ages (sic!) - SG No. 67/1968.

"St. John the Forerunner" has an impressively representative location - elevation of approximately 230.0 m on the high right bank of the Arda River in Kardzhali, Veselchane. From the Kardzhali Monastery there is a direct view to the Medieval fortress above the village of Visegrad (306.4 m), to the Thracian fortress (392 m) to the village of Lisitsite, also on the right bank of the river Arda and to the Sixth fortress (586.7 m) above the village of Shiroko Pole - on the left bank of the river Arda. The monastery reveals a view of the entire plain, on which the central quarters of the town of Kardzhali are located. The wide perimeter of the terrain adjacent to the ensemble borders on the west with the overgrown for hydro-ameliorative reasons Kyoch Dere / Kyosh Dere, which underground continues to flow in a controlled manner into the water mirror between Kardzhali Dam and Studen Kladenets Dam. From the north, the natural border is the inaccessible high edge of the abyss on the right above the Arda (today - a water mirror). From the east, the wide perimeter of the ensemble enters the terrain of the car farm in an unidentified way. From the south, the boundaries of the wide perimeter are also undefined, but it is still known that they include "... the road to Madan and .... the experimental school of Veselchani ....". The fortress wall with the towers encloses from the east, south and west a spacious yard with a large church, situated in the southern part of the fortified space. From the north the yard ends in an earthen-rock edge above the river Arda (today - a water mirror).

The Church of St. John the Forerunner in Kardzhali, Veselchane district (Gaziolar / Gazi-Ollar), is part of the medieval complex developed over the centuries - a church with a fortress wall, founded in the VI - VII century on a significantly larger area than the one locked in the fortress walls later. Emerging as a continuation of a large ancient necropolis with a small sacred building and living quarters, connected with a significant urban settlement, it gave rise to a fortified monastery ensemble between the time not later than the second half of the tenth century, on the one hand, and the fourteenth century. , on the other hand, continuing its existence during the first century of Ottoman rule. After its creation, the fortress ensemble with a church established itself as a significant center of Christianity in the Eastern Rhodopes. The decline of the fortress ensemble and its church is due to both deliberate destruction and objective disasters and obstacles, as well as - due to the inability to maintain the ensemble with the church for various historical and economic reasons, and thus led to the use of ruins. as a source of building material: "... stones were taken from this place for many buildings in the city and especially for the old Turkish barracks, which remains to this day ..." and to modern treasury excavations (Assoc. Ekaterina Manova). The embankment - on the remains of the ensemble with the church, in 1962 still keeps the memory of the essence of the buried / buried. Apart from Tumbata, this "mound", "... over 4 m high and with a diameter of about 25 m ...", was called by the surrounding population Hisaryat (Fortress, Fortress, Gradishteto, Fortified settlement, etc.) and Klise dorosu (The churchyard) The whole territory, above which rises the Kardzhali ensemble with the church "St. John the Forerunner", as far as the eye can see, is a place especially rich in essential evidence of many millennia of development and strong continuity of social and economic life.


At the end of the 1920s, the ruins became the subject of increased interest by the prominent public figure and active local historian Nikola Ivanov (* 1880, Dupnitsa - +1950, Kardzhali), a researcher of the Bulgarian historical past. In the 40s of the 20th century a number of influential Bulgarian and foreign scientists - historians and archaeologists maintained contact with Nikola Ivanov and noted the remains of the past: fortresses, monasteries, mounds, rock tombs and more. in his publications (Ivan Velkov and others). In the second half of the XX century the ensemble with the church was opened for the archeological science by the archeologist Dimcho Aladzhov from the Museum of Museum - Kardzhali (Georgi Kulov). Thanks to the archeological excavations and information from Assoc. Ekaterina Manova, archaeologist, as well as subsequent research, in 1968 the medieval church, as well as the entire necropolis (each - separately) were declared architectural and cultural monuments of antiquity and the Middle Ages of national importance. In 1974 the ancient necropolis adjacent to the church "St. John the Forerunner" was studied by the archaeologist Ivan Balkanski - OIMmuseum-Kardzhali.

From the initial archeological excavations in 1962-63 and in the following years - during the specialized planned archeological excavations, more and more parts of the building substance of the ensemble were discovered and published, incl. partly preserved frescoes, graffiti and architectural details of the church. From the archeological excavations conducted under the direction of Assoc. Ekaterina Manova, archaeologist, and with analyzes of Prof. Stamen Mihailov, from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, as well as by the archaeologist Ivan Balkanski from OIMuseum - Kardzhali, in the 60s to the second half of the 80s of the XX century, it is known that in this place, apart from the big church, today - "St. John the Forerunner", there are the indisputable ruins of the fortress wall and its observation / defense towers - bastion, as well as smaller and earlier churches and chapels, as well as other public buildings, incl. tombs, tombs and sacred funerary architecture, built in different eras, dating back to the distant pre-Christian past. Of particular importance is the triconch building, defined by researchers as a chapel / baptistery, completed in the Middle Ages to the eastern part of the north wall of the church together with a new common vestibule - entrance through the north conch of the church.

Historical data and preserved buildings give reason to believe that it is possible that "St. John the Forerunner" became in the X - XI century in the episcopal and later in the metropolitan center. Guidance for such a conclusion is given by incl. and the five masonry tombs: in the porch of the large church, in the chapel / baptistery, as well as in the previous small temple next to the south wall of the church. Two of them were discovered during the initial excavations in 1962 by Assoc. Ekaterina Manova, the others - from the builders during the restoration works in and around the temple. According to some scholars, the remains in one of these tombs belong to Patriarch Evtimiy Tarnovski, others reject this hypothesis. In this tomb were also found: cloth with gold and unusual decoration, as well as in a cloth cross sewn church relics. There are assumptions that only in 4 places in the world there are such finds, and in Bulgaria this is the first, according to experts, and this supports the thesis that in the Middle Ages today's Kardzhali was an important Christian center. The gold-embroidered fabric of the epitrachel, the sleeves and the loin are distinguished by their masterful workmanship. According to historical data, epitrachil has a high material value. It is thought that it may have been made in Constantinople.

In 2000 the monastery church "St. John the Forerunner" was consecrated.

The restoration of the medieval church of St. John the Forerunner in Kardzhali was conceived and carried out for ten years.

October 1991. The President of the Foundation for Christian Architecture and Art "Nikola Fichev and Zahari Zograf" (hereinafter in this text: FHAI) Assoc. Hristo Genchev stated in Kardzhali, during the parliamentary election campaign, the intention to restore the medieval church of St. John the Baptist in the Veselchane district.
November 3, 1994. The Board of Directors (hereinafter: the Board) of FHAI decided to develop a Program for the restoration of the abandoned ruin of the church "St. John the Forerunner" in Kardzhali in order to renew the church service in it.
February 24, 1995. Decision of the Board of PHAI for preparation of a limited architectural competition in order to select a design idea and designer of the restoration works.



History of the city
It is believed that the first inhabitants of these places were the ancestors of the Thracians. Here there were settlements inhabited by Thracians, ancient Greeks, Romans; Slovenes / Slavs, Bulgarians, Romans, Latins and Ottoman Turks. Not far away is the remarkable ancient rock city-sanctuary Perperek (Perperikon). In the Middle Ages, on the site of today's Kardzhali, there was a town in the region of Ahrida (Eastern Rhodopes) which is considered to be an episcopal Christian center. Its foundations date back to the IV - I century BC.

Bulgarian and Roman Middle Ages

In the 6th century, Slovenes / Slavs and Bulgarians settled along the middle reaches of the Arda River. Today there are traces of the past - of the Thracians, of the Eastern Roman Empire, of the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdoms. The settlers in the IV-VI century established their traditions, language and way of life, borrowing the culture of the old local population. When the Bulgarian state was formed, this region still remained within the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire. At the time of Khan Presian in 847 he entered the borders of the Bulgarian state. The prototype of Kardzhali is considered to be the existing in the IX - XIV century on the territory of today's town settlement and fortress Visegrad (also called Upper Fortress) near Gorna Gledka above the dam "Studen Kladenets", which have common features with the material culture of the old Bulgarian towns Pliska , Preslav, Tarnovo, Mesemvria, etc. It guarded a branch of the road from Adrianople to Philippopolis to the interior of the Rhodopes along the valley of the river Varbitsa. The well-protected Medieval fortress (citadel) with observation, defense and residential functions may have been used by the governor of the medieval region of Ahrida. Today its preserved walls are up to 8 m high. It is in direct visual connection with the nearby Sixth Fortress, which is on the hill opposite, high above the left bank of the Arda (586.7 m). For its part, it is sometimes identified with the historically known fortress of Moniac, where there was a camp of Henry, brother of Baldwin I, regent of Romania - the Latin Empire. Probably already in the fortress Manyak / Monyak in August 1206, due to the confirmed death of Baldwin I in Tarnovo, Henry was appointed to succeed Baldwin I and become the second emperor of the Latin Empire. Upstream, on the right bank of the Arda, stands out the remarkable early Christian ensemble with the church of St. John the Baptist, founded in late antiquity and developed into a certain type of monastery complex in the IX-XIV century, when the monastery fortress may have become episcopal center. The existence of a large medieval cemetery within the fortress of St. John the Forerunner and beyond, which may have preceded the construction of the Kardzhali monastery and which by its nature is a common urban cemetery of many generations and ages with different social status, leads to a reasonable conclusion. that the cemetery served a late antique and medieval town with even more ancient roots on the high right bank of Arda, near the church complex (Assoc. Prof. Ekaterina Manova, Prof. Dr. Stamen Mihailov, etc.). Due to its important strategic and economic importance, the Eastern Rhodopes were constantly subjected to enemy invasions. Tsar Kaloyan liberated the region from Roman rule in 1199 and it became one of the starting points in the campaigns of the Bulgarians against the Latin military forces that conquered Constantinople, defeated by the king in 1205 near Edirne. The whole area of ​​the river Arda, incl. the lands of today's Kardzhali, is within the Bulgarian state and under the control of Tsar Kaloyan, as evidenced by the map "Bulgarian state in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century" in the multivolume History of Bulgaria - Volume 3: Second Bulgarian state, with . 387, (Assoc. Prof. Petar Koledarov). Echoes of the battles of the Knights of the Fourth Crusade, as well as the actions of the rulers and barons of Romania - the Latin Empire, reached the place where Kardzhali is today, but what are the exact historical and topographic data can not yet be established. According to the frugal account of Geoffroy de Villardouin, on September 4, 1207, the Latin king of Thessaloniki, Boniface of Monferrato, on the recommendation of the local Greeks from the vicinity of Mosinopol (now Gyumri), entered the mountain with a small cavalry all day south. over the city. The local Bulgarian defenders ambushed and defeated the Latin knights on their way back, and Boniface's head was sent to Tsar Kaloyan. After the assassination of Tsar Kaloyan under the walls of Thessaloniki (October 1207) the area was ruled by Despot Slav, and under Tsar Ivan Asen II it was again centrally subordinated. After 1246, when Tsar Coloman Assen died, the Eastern Roman Empire established short-term control here, in 1254 Tsar Michael Assen rejected the Romans. The chronicler Georgi Acropolit writes: "The inhabitants, who were Bulgarians, got rid of the yoke of foreign languages ​​and passed to their own." Then the Romans returned again, to Tsar Constantine Assen - the Quiet region is again in Bulgaria, then Roman again, finally Tsar Ivan Alexander regained control of the area in 1343. In the 14th century, the protector of the local population from the constantly feuding Bulgarian and Roman feudal lords was the Bulgarian feudal ruler in the Rhodopes and White Sea Thrace, Momchil, who ruled the lands from the White Sea until now. His name is also connected with the first resistance of the Bulgarian Rhodopes against the invasion of the Turkish hordes invading from Asia Minor.


Under Ottoman rule
In 1370 - 1371 the Rhodopes fought battles to deter the conquests of the Ottoman Turks by Murad I. The Bulgarian fortresses in the region fell under the pressure of the Ottoman invasion. The existence of a settlement here next to the old fortress of Visegrad was first mentioned during the rule in 1607 in the Ottoman-Turkish register, according to which it was divided between two rulers in two timars. Two and a half centuries later, in 1847, Auguste Viquenel, a French explorer and traveler who explored the Eastern Rhodopes, noted: “Kardzhali. A small village with a mosque, inhabited by Bulgarian Christians and Muslims. For the settlement there are no exact documents for the events for the period 1813 - 1878. It is hardly possible that the name of the then small village is due to the gangs of Polish bandits "Kurdzhali" whose mass raids were especially widespread about 50 years before the late 18th and early 19th century in the already declining and then virtually powerless Ottoman Empire. The legendary version spread among Muslims in today's city under the medieval fortress of Visegrad that he owes his name to a mythical Ottoman general who conquered these places in the XIV century, called Kardzha Ali from Bukhara, who after years of military exploits became a preacher In the 15th century, his followers restored one of the destroyed settlements near his grave, which is refuted not only by historical documents, and the detailed Ottoman tax registers, which after the depopulation of Visegrad in the 14th century did not mention any settlement here after the invasion. the oriental tale was unquestionably rejected after research, when the tomb was opened by archaeologists in the 1920s and turned out to be an empty, fake tomb without a burial.

According to the linguist Prof. Boris Simeonov, the name of the town can be derived from the old Bulgarian word "kartchag" - jug, a clay / ceramic vessel for liquids made on a potter's wheel - and related to the words "pot" and "pot". This is how the toponym Karchag-li is formed, meaning: Granchari, Grancharovo. A later folk etymology associated the name of the city with the idea of ​​a field, levels - kr. In the dictionary of Prof. Stefan Mladenov Kardzhali is derived from the established in the 18th - 19th century "Kardzhali = polentsi", people from the field (lowland). Probably this was the difference between the population of the upper, high right bank of the river and the population of the later, low-lying town near the lower left bank.

After the Liberation
On January 3, 1878, this area was liberated by the detachment of Russian Major General Grigory Fyodorovich Chernozubov. The liberating troops spent the night on the northern side of the Arda River, where the market is now located, and the next day they crossed the river, established control on the southern side and with a quick march without a single shot liberated Momchilgrad, where the general received the message of the armistice signed in Edirne. . With the Treaty of San Stefano, Kardzhali is within the borders of Bulgaria. The Berlin Treaty placed the city within the limits of the autonomous Bulgarian region of Eastern Rumelia. In 1886, with the Tophane Act, Gyumyurjina fell into the Sandzak under the direct rule of the Ottoman Sultan as compensation for the Union between the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. During the Balkan War, after the victory of the Bulgarian army in the battle near Kardzhali near it on October 21 (October 8 old style) 1912, the city was liberated by the Haskovo detachment and finally remained in Bulgaria. A monument to the liberators was erected in the center in memory of the heroes who died for the annexation of the city to Bulgaria, unveiled in 1939. The wife and son of Gen. Vasil Delov - the liberator of Kardzhali, managed to keep the city unaffected by hostilities. A monument to the general has also been erected in the city. Kardzhali was declared a city in the early 20th century. Since the time of the Ottoman rule, the tobacco trade has been a major industry for the city.

In 1934 the town of Kardzhali was declared a district municipal center.

During communism
With the new administrative division, pushed by the regime of Todor Zhivkov in 1959, the city became a district center. Light industry, machine building and non-ferrous metallurgy are developing with the structure-determining UCC Kardzhali. The city became a cultural center, here are DKT "Dimitar Dimov", Regional History Museum, House of Culture and others. The Stanka Dimitrova Art Gallery - Kardzhali was founded in 1961, but became an independent gallery in 1967. It has some of the richest and most interesting collections in Bulgaria - valuable collections of icons and Renaissance prints, paintings, graphics and sculpture. The works of: Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master, Svetlin Rusev, Dechko Uzunov, V. Decheva, Kiril Tsonev and many others are presented. In 1987 the districts were closed and the town moved to Haskovo district.


Kardzhali today
Since 1999, Kardzhali has been a regional town. It is the largest administrative, industrial, commercial and cultural center of the Eastern Rhodopes. In 2012, the lead-zinc plant was closed due to debts - the metallurgical enterprise was previously sold to Intertrust Holding with President Valentin Zahariev, and due to heavy debts to creditor banks in 2012 it went on sale. Gorubso-Kardzhali and some companies in the city take over a small part of the fired workers.

Today Kardzhali hosts the International Festival of Arts "Perperikon", the National Competition for Children's Literature "Petya Karakoleva", an annual cultural week is held, dedicated to the holiday of the city of Kardzhali and others.

The Regional History Museum in Kardzhali is included in the List of 100 national tourist sites and is located in the prestigious 25th place. The building was built in the early 1920s according to a project by the architect of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia - Prof. Alexander Pomerantsev, a lecturer at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Like most museum buildings in Bulgaria, this one was originally designed for another purpose. There was an idea to house a madrasa there, but it never was, but the initial idea of ​​the building's function and the Russian architect, well versed in North African and Central Asian architecture, left interesting plastic solutions. The building is in the then modern neo-Moorish style, dominating the facade are the Moroccan arches and details, reminiscent of architecture not of the Ottoman but of the Arab world and Central Asia. Due to its unique appearance, the building has been declared a cultural monument of national importance. The Regional Historical Museum of Kardzhali has a rich collection of samples of cult sculptures, numismatics, ceramics, jewelry, medieval and Renaissance icons, traditional clothing and more. It is located near the city center. The museum has three major departments: ethnology, archeology and mineralogy. The ethnographic exposition reflects various crafts in the area at that time and especially the cultivation of tobacco. The archeological exposition presents various samples from the early Neolithic to the Middle Ages, here are exhibited finds from the remarkable Perperikon. Semi-precious, precious stones, ore and non-ore materials, minerals and others are also shown.

On October 29, 2003, an impressive 6-meter monument to Vasil Levski with remarkable expressiveness and artistic value was unveiled on the central square of the city in front of the municipality. The author of the idea for the monument is Prof. Konstantin Denev. Five-ton stone blocks were used for the construction, which was completed in less than a month.

Cape Kardzhali on Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands was named after the town of Kardzhali on November 23, 2009.