Montana is a district town in northwestern Bulgaria, the
administrative and economic center of the eponymous municipality of
Montana and the district of Montana. The population of the city is
38 341 inhabitants according to NSI estimates as of 31.12.2019.
Names of the city
The first name of the city, given to it by the Romans, was Montanesium. During the invasion of the Slavic tribes, the area of the Roman city began to be called by the Slavic name Kutlovitsa, probably because of the valley in which the area is located.
During the Turkish rule it was first mentioned under the name Kutlovitsa in a document from 1575. The liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 found the village named Golyama Kutlovitsa (as the river Ogosta separates it from the village Malka Kutlovitsa) and with a population of less than 1000 inhabitants. .
On December 2, 1891, Golyama Kutlovitsa was renamed Ferdinand, and with its gesture it earned the favor of Prince Ferdinand I and received the status of a town. This happened at the official opening of the railway station, which was attended by Prince Ferdinand himself. Legend has it that in order to achieve the urban status of the village, the local rulers got Ferdinand drunk at the celebration on the occasion of the new railway and so easily persuaded him to give the urban status of Kutlovitsa. At that time the city had about 1,500 inhabitants - Bulgarians, Turks and Jews.
This version is unreliable, as the city acquired a railway line in 1912 - twenty years after the declaration of Kutlovitsa as a city.
According to another version, the city status of Montana is related to the election of Ferdinand as Prince of Bulgaria. When he arrived on the Danube with his companions, he landed in the town of Lom, from where he took a carriage to Sofia. In the evening he found him in the village of Kutlovitsa. His companions told the local rulers to ask for urban status of the village, as this was the first place Ferdinand spent the night after arriving in Bulgaria. In order to be recognized as a city, there had to be a certain number of people. Accordingly, the local government used fraud and exaggerated the population, but Kutlovitsa was recognized as a city and in honor of the prince, its name was changed to the city of Ferdinand.
Also, the second version is historically unreliable, as Prince Ferdinand arrived in Bulgaria on the Danube and was met in Vidin, not in Lom and Kutlovitsa.
In 1945, the government of the Patriotic Front renamed the city of Mihaylovgrad after the communist activist Hristo Mihailov, who died in 1944, worked in the organization of the Bulgarian Communist Party and took part in the September uprising in the city.
In 1993, by decree of President Zhelyu Zhelev, the name of the city was changed to Montana (after its ancient name Municipio Montanensium).
The area around Montana became part of the Roman province of Upper Moesia in 29 BC. due to its strategic location. The hill played a major role in the construction of a military garrison, the purpose of which was to protect against enemy invasions coming from the north. Around 160, the military camp, probably founded on the site of an old Thracian settlement, received city rights under the name Montanensium (Latin: Municipio Montanensium), which literally translates as "mountain settlement" (due to the proximity of the Balkans).
The city developed and developed according to the Roman model and became the second most important settlement in Upper Moesia after Ratiaria (Archar). During this period, the fortress was built on the hill above Montana, public buildings, temples, baths and theaters. Montana became a typical imperial settlement, where the local Romanized population, Italian and Asia Minor settlers.
In and around the town are known the remains of four late antique churches, dating to the IV century - at the eastern end of the fortress, at its foot, 6 kilometers northeast and 7 kilometers southwest of it.
The basis of the economy are the large landowners of Italian origin and their villas and mansions, where the local population serves as labor in the extraction of agricultural products and gold along the Ogosta River. There is also a stratum of Greek-speaking settlers of Eastern origin in the city, engaged in handicrafts and usury. Diana and Apollo were declared patrons of the city in the spirit of Hellenism.
The Middle Ages
Between 440 and 490, northwestern Bulgaria was devastated by the invasions of the Huns of Attila and the Goths. Between 500 and 560, the Slavs and the Avars dealt another devastating blow to the Greco-Roman culture in the region, and the Slavs who settled in the area called the settlement Kutlovitsa. During the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdoms the settlement was restored and became the center of a diocese.
After the conquest of Kutlovitsa by the Ottomans, the village was ruined and deserted. Between 1450 and 1688, due to its strategic importance, Kutlovitsa was inhabited by Turks and experienced a new heyday as a typically oriental town. Two mosques, a Turkish bath, fountains and new public buildings have been built. The Chiprovtsi uprising and its defeat, in which Turks from Kutlovitsa took part, confirmed the image of Kutlovitsa as an Ottoman island and a post against Austrian influence in the following 18th and 19th centuries.
Immediately before the Liberation, there was a Turkish neighborhood (about 600 people) around the current Izvora Street, a Bulgarian neighborhood (50 people) and a gypsy neighborhood (100 people).
After the Liberation, a massive migration of the population to Kutlovitsa began. The first group to settle in the town were farmers from the Belimel and Mitrovtsi area. There followed a great wave of settlers from the Berkovitsa region and after 1912 - settlers from the Tsaribrod, Godech, Sofia, Troyan, as well as from Macedonia. Along with the influx of population after 1878, the city's infrastructure developed rapidly. An electric network, a railway station, a post office, a hospital were built, a fair and a community center in the city were started. The city was one of the centers of the September Uprising in 1923. The rebel forces captured the city and briefly established workers 'and peasants' power.
After September 9, 1944, there was a massive uniform migration to Montana from all settlements in the then Mihaylovgrad district. The city is experiencing economic prosperity and is developing strongly as an industrial center. During this period a battery factory, 2 machine-building factories, a tool factory, a spinning factory, a factory for floor ceramics and fittings were built.
Location and relief
It is located about 45 km south of the Danube River and about 30 km east of the border with Serbia in the valley between Ogosta Dam and Pastrina Hill. An important corridor between Northwestern Bulgaria and Sofia through the Petrohan Pass.
The town has a flat-hilly terrain and an average altitude of 147 m, because it "lies" at the eastern foot of the Mihaylovgrad Bair (elevation 327 m), which is part of Verenishko hill and the Western Fore-Balkans.
The climate is temperate continental, with cold winters and hot
summers. West-northwest winds are prevalent. The large water basin
and the rugged terrain rarely allow the wind to calm down to 0 m /
s. Characteristic of the night hours is the mountain-valley breeze
from the southwest, which is an obstacle for intensive cooling of
the area in clear weather.
In the cold half of the year there are temperature inversions, with fog and / or low layered clouds and a fion (also called "southern") is observed, which leads to spring temperatures and snowmelt, and in Arctic air masses values below -20 ° C are noted. Hail is registered in the warm half of the year.
The first negative temperatures and frosts are most often in the
second half of October, and the last - in late March. The average
number of days with snow cover is between 40 and 45, its average
height is 8 cm. The maximum precipitation is normally in May-June,
the minimum - in February, but with climate change they are becoming
more unevenly distributed, more frequent and long droughts.
The Montana Hydro-Meteorological Observatory is located in the southern part of the wall of Ogosta Dam (203 m above sea level). It is constantly monitored by agronomists, meteorologists and hydrologists. The first official weather forecasts here were made in 1892, when a meteorological station was opened at the local post office. In 2007, the highest temperature of 43.6 degrees Celsius was reported.