The town of Gabrovo has a population of 65 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 227 km northeast of Sofia at the foot of the Shipka part of Stara Planina along both banks of the Yantra River at an altitude of 390 m. Gabrovo is a municipal centre of 133 settlements.
The historical beginning of the present-day town dates from the Middle Ages. Due to its proximity to the capital of Bulgaria of the time-Veliko Tarnovo and the passes towards the Balkan some forges and gunsmith workshops were opened in the town. The first name of the town is Gabruva and in XVII c. it was written under the name of Gabrovo. In the years of the Ottoman domination the settlement was a craftsman's and trade centre. In XIX c. were developed 26 crafts - smithery, weaving, cutlery, silkworm-breeding and others. In 1835 the first school was opened in the town - the present-day Aprilov's High School. It was named after its benefactor Vasil Aprilov. Many houses, churches, bridges and a clock tower were built in the Revival period. Gabrovo was proclaimed for a town in 1860 and in 1882 was built the first textile factory.
The tourist sights of the region are: the church" Uspenie Bogorodichno"/The Assumption/(1865) is among the masterpieces of the Revival period architecture, the clock tower from 1835, the Dechkov's house, the Aprilov's high school, Bayov's Bridge, the outdoor museum "Etara" and the architectural reserve "Bozhentzi". The town of Gabrovo is also known as the capital of humour and satire. The museum of the world's humoristic art was opened in 1972 under the motto "The world has survived because it has laughed".
On the territory of Gabrovo District are located the following natural landmarks: part of the "Central Balkan" natural park, the "Bacho Kiro" cave, the Dryanovo's eco path and many other.
The most famous monasteries of the district are: Dryanovo Monastery, Batoshevo and Sokolovo monasteries.
The Home of humour and satire in Gabrovo was opened on 1st April 1972. In Bulgaria this day is known as "The day of humour and lies". In the home of humour are exhibited works of humour and satire artists from 153 countries. Every odd year biannual celebrations of the humor and satire are held in Gabrovo.
The Dechkov's house represents the town's lifestyle and interior from XIX c. The house was built in 1835 and demonstrates an ethnographic exhibition from the end of XIX c. The rooms are full of authentic lifestyle objects typical for the Gabrovo people. There is a room for male guests, a room for female guests, a maiden's room and a music salon. Each visitor can have a picture taken of him/her in retro clothes.
The Aprilov's high school is situated in the centre of Gabrovo. The school was built in likeness to the Richelieu's Lyceum from the town of Odessa, Russia. The Aprilov's high school was proclaimed for a monument of culture. Today the building functions both as a school and a museum.
The monument of Racho Kovacha /The blacksmith/ is the symbol of the town. It is placed over a rock in the middle of the Yantra River flowing through the town. Racho Kovacha/ The blacksmith/ is the mythical founder of the town.
The Etara is an outdoor ethnographic museum lying at a distance of 8 km from Gabrovo. The complex is created in 1964. On a territory of 7 hectares are located craftsman's workshops and houses of 15 different architectural styles. On the first floor of the houses are located the workshops while the second floor is the exhibition area. The visitors can observe the ancient technology of manufacturing different objects.
The "Bozhentzi" architectural reserve lies at a distance of 16 km east of the town and has 41 inhabitants. The houses are in Revival period style with gardens, high fences and cobblestone streets. The houses in Bozhentzi are 100 - 250 years old. In 1964 the village was proclaimed for an architectural reserve.
The Sokolovo Monastery is situated in Stara Planina at a distance of 9 km southeast of Gabrovo. The complex has a church, a charnel house, housing buildings with a yard and a fountain. The monastery church was built in 1834 and the murals were painted in 1862. The monastery keeps icons from Zahari Zograf and representatives of the Trayvna's art school. The octagonal stone fountain in the yard was built by the master builder Kolyo Ficheto in 1865. The fountain has the form of a church's dome.
Lyulyatzite /The Lilacs/ is a mountainous resort lying at a distance of 15 km from the district centre at an altitude of 880 m. It is the starting point for the tourist routes for Sredna Stara Planina.
The town of Tryavna has a population of 11 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 22 km east of Gabrovo. Tryavna is a municipal centre of 105 settlements. The town is situated at the northern foot of Sredna Stara Planina by the Dryanovska River at an altitude of 440 m.
The legend tells that during his rule king Kaloyan erected the "St. Archangel Michael" church and around it a settlement sprang up. The settlement flourished in XVIII and the beginning of XIX c. Many houses, schools and churches were built.
Many master craftsmen and wood-carvers formed their guilds and made the Tryavna art school a very influential one. Today there are about 140 Renaissance-style houses in Tryavna, which are architectural monuments from the Revival period. They have preserved the masterpieces of the Tryavna's master craftsmen.
The tourist sights of the region are: the Slaveykov's house, the Raykov's house, the Popangelov's house, the church "St. Archangel Michael" (1819), "St. Georgi" (1852), the clock tower (1814), the vaulted bridge (1844), the museum of wood carving in the Daskalov's house (1804) and the museum of the Tryavna's icon-painting school.
The Tryavna's art school is developing in two directions - icon painting and wood carving. The first representative and founder of the art school is Vitan Stari. Together with the Vitanov's kin famous craftsman's families from the region are the Zahariev's, the Popdimitrov's and the Minyov's.
The architectural complex of Tryavna consists of Revival period houses, yards, streets and churches. In the centre of Tryavna are situated the clock tower (1814), the vaulted bridge (1844), the church "Archangel Michael" (1819), the old school (1839) and others.
The museum of the wood carving is housed in the Daskalov's house. It was built in 1808. The house impresses with its unique wood-carved ceilings, wardrobes, doors, walls and other elements.
The Tryavna's icon painting school keeps about 160 original icons from famous master icon painters from the end of XVII c. until the end of XIX c.
The town of Dryanovo has a population of 8 500 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 20 km northeast of Gabrovo. Dryanovo is a municipal centre of 62 settlements. The town is situated amphitheatrically along both banks of the Dryanovska River at an altitude of 270 m. The Dryanovska River is a tributary of the Yantra River.
In the region of Dryanovo there existed a Thracian and a Roman settlement. The settlement was mentioned for the first time as a medieval fortress in 1186. In 1430 the settlement was written under the name of Diranava. Dryanovo reached its zenith during the Revival period. In 1883 it was proclaimed for a town. Dryanovo is the home town of the most talented Bulgarian architect and master builder of the Revival period-Kolyo Ficheto. The town was liberated in 1877.
The tourist sights of the town are: the Revival period market place from XIX c., the Lafchev's house (1840), the Ikonomov's house, the church "Sveta Troitza" /Holy Trinity/ (1851), the church "St. Nikola" (1851), the museum of Kolyo Ficheto and the Dryanovo Monastery.
The Dryanovo Monastery lies at a distance of 4 km from the town. It is founded at the beginning of XII c. On its present-day site it was built in 1845. From that period is the small church "St. Archangel Michael", which is dug in the ground. The single-nave church "Uspenie Bogorodichno" /The Assumption/ dates from 1861. During the April Rebellion from 1876 the monastery was burned down and was later restored in 1880. In the yard of the monastery there is a charnel house of the victims of the rebellion.
The house of Kolyo Ficheto in Dryanovo represents the life of the most talented Bulgarian master builder of the Revival period. Nikola Ficheto is one of the fathers of the
Revival period architecture. He is the master builder of almost all major state construction works in the Danube Region during the rule of Midhat pasha. He built many churches, mosques and bridges.
The "St. Nikola" church in Dryanovo was built in 1851 by Kolyo Ficheto.
The Lafchev's house was built in 1840. It is an example of a wooden house from the region. It houses the ethnographic exhibition of the history museum.
The town of Plachkovtzi has a population of 2 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 7 km southwest of Tryavna. The town is a national mountainous resort. It is situated at the northern foot of the Shipka part of Stara Planina at an altitude of 510 m. On the territory of Plachkovtzi is situated the rocky phenomena Vikanata skala - a natural landmark of the region. The region is specialized in the production of fruits, potatoes and stock-breeding.
The town of Sevlievo has a population of 24 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 28 km northwest of Gabrovo. Sevlievo is a municipal centre of 52 component settlements. The town is situated in the valley of the Rositza River at an altitude of 200 m.
In the region of the town there are findings from the Neolith, the eneolith, Thracian tomb-mounds and a medieval settlement. The town is mentioned for the first time under the name of Selvi in the middle of XVI c. The settlement was established in X-XI c. as a satellite settlement to the fortress Hotalich, which was demolished in XIV c. during the invasion of the Turks. During the Ottoman yoke the town was the centre of a district with well-developed woodworking, leather manufacturing and spinning.
Sevlievo is the home town of the poetess Mara Belcheva, the writer Fani Popova-Mutafova, the sculptor Asen Peykov, who created the sculpture of Leonardo Da Vinci on the international airport of Rome.
The village of Sennik at a distance of 7 km from Sevlievo is the birth place of the famous Bulgarian Dan Kolov. He has a diamond belt in free style wrestling.
The tourist sights of the region are: the clock tower (1779), the churches "St. Iliya" with a precious wood-carved iconostasis(1834), "Sveta Troitza/Holy Trinity/ (1870, Hadzhistoyanov's school (1844), the Tabahana - a restored leather-manufacturing workshop, the stone bridge over the Rositza River (1858), the Dandolov's houses, the monument of liberty, remains of the Hotalich fortress and the Batoshevo monastery. Gorna Rositza -one of the biggest driving test areas is situated at a distance of 8 km from the town.
The Dandolov's houses is an architectural-ethnographic complex. The building was built in 1870 and was restored in 1981. It is a unique building in which under one roof there are three houses with a workshop and a shop.
The Monument of Liberty in Sevlievo was made by Arnaldo Dzoki. It was placed on an authentic column from the ancient town Nikopolis ad Istrum. The monument was built in 1894.
The stone bridge was built by the master builder Kolyo Ficheto. It was built during 1857-1858. In 1940 the bridge was reconstructed.
The clock tower in Sevlievo was built in 1777. It is 18 m. high.
The medieval fortress Hotalich lies at a distance of 4 km from the town. It was erected about X c. over the foundations of an early Byzantine fortress. Some of the stone walls, the defense towers, gates, houses, a church and other buildings are preserved.
The Dan Kolov's house in the village of Sennik is at a distance of 7 km from Sevlievo. Dancho Kolev Danev is a world-famous free-style wrestling competitor. He lived in the USA from 1905-1935 where he is known as Dan Kolov. In his sports' career he had 1 500 official wrestling games of which only 10 were losses. He was a European champion in Paris from 1936 and 1937 and the owner of the titles "European Belt" and "World Belt". His grave is in the yard of the church in the village of Sennik.
The Batoshevo monk monastery in the village of Batoshevo was founded in 1250 by king Mihail Asen. After the fall of Bulgaria under the Ottoman yoke the monastery was demolished. It was later restored in the second half of XIX c. with donations from the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. The construction of the church began in 1836. It is a three-dome church with wood-carved iconostasis with icons from the Tryavna's art school. The monastery was an educational centre during the Revival period. Prominent Bulgarian public figures such as Bacho Kiro, Angel Kanchev and Matey Preobrazhenski were associated with the monastery's educational work.
The Batoshevo nunnery in the village of Batoshevo was founded in XIX c. The monastery has some icons by the famous Revival period painter Stanislav Dospevski.