Montana district – Cities

The town of Montana has a population of 47 800 inhabitants and is the municipal centre of 23 settlements. The town is located on the bank of the Ogosta River in the western part of Fore-Balkan.

The territory of the Ogosta River has been populated for millennia. In the lower parts of the forests of the region were discovered pottery vessels, iron and bone tools, flat miller's stones dating from more than 6 000 years ago. During the early Iron Age here existed a Thracian settlement with fortified walls. The discovered paintings of the most widely cherished Thracian gods Heros, Benedita and Dionysius tell about the cultural life of the Thracian people from this region.

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In the year 29 the region became part of the Roman Empire and was included in the Mizia Province. Three years later the Sygambrian horse troops were dislocated here and remained for more than a century. The town of Montana became one of the big centres of the Mizia Province. The name of the town is preserved on an inscription from II c. The presence of the Roman legions in the region contributed to the economic development of the town. There existed two sanctuaries for the gods Diana and Apollonius in the town. The invasions of the Gothes tribes in the middle of III century broke the period of the town's flourish. After the fall of the Roman Empire the settlement became part of the Byzantine Empire. At the end of VI c. and the beginning of VII c. Montana disappeared from the maps. Later on the Slavs founded a settlement with the name of Kutlovitza. The name of the Augustus River was changed to Ogosta and is preserved till present days. Kutlovitza was on the territory of the First Bulgarian State. However, this period of the settlement's history is unknown due to the lack of information. During the Ottoman yoke the settlement was described with the name of Kutlovitza in 1575.

The town of Montana

The town of Montana

After the Liberation of Bulgaria Kutlovitza became the district centre and a craftsman's centre. At the beginning of XX c. its population was about 49 000 inhabitants. On 2December 1891 the settlement's name was changed to Ferdinand in honour of the Bulgarian king Ferdinand. The construction of a railway line connecting Boychinovtzi and Berkovitza contributed to the development of the town. During the period of 1946-1990 the town had the name of Mihailovgrad and since 1992 till present days it is known with its ancient name of Montana.

The tourist sights of the town are: the history museum, the art gallery, the archaeological exhibition and the remains of the ancient fortress Montana.

Other historic and cultural monuments in the district are: the Chiprovtzi Monastery, the Klissura Monastery, The Lopushantzi Monastery, Berkovitza and Chiprovtzi.

On the territory of the Montana District are situated the following natural landmarks: the reserves "Gorna Koria", "Ibisha" and the protected sites of "Kopren" and "Ravno Buche" as well as the Kopren's eco-path.

Among the more important ornithological sites are: the Danube Islands, the "Ibisha" reserve/ included in the Corine Project/ and the "Funiyata" site.

The best wineries of the region are: Lom, Borovtzi and Berkovitza.

Tourist sights

The History Museum of Montana has 50 000 exhibits. There are interesting collections of marble and metal plastics, jewellery from the Chiprovtzi's goldsmith's school, coins and old-print books.

The Lapidarium is situated in the region of the ancient Montana fortress. It is in a park and represents many epigraphic monuments from the Roman Epoch.

The Chiprovtzi Monastery is situated at a distance of 6 km northeast of the town of Chiprovtzi. It dates back to X c. and is one of the monasteries in Bulgaria which contributed a lot to the development of the Christian belief on the Bulgarian lands. For centuries on end it was an important educational centre. The Monastery was the main support centre of the Chiprovsko Rebellion from XVII c. After the rebellion it was emolished and plundered. The monastery complex consists of a church (1829), a two-floor housing building with balconies, and a tower-tomb where the bones of the rebellion's victims are preserved.

The Katerina's House in the town of Chiprovtzi is a demonstration place for carpet-weaving techniques. In the yard of the house are grown the trees and the medicinal herbs from which are obtained the dyes for the traditional Chiprovtzi carpets.

The Lopushanski Monastery in the village of Georgi Damyanovo lies at a distance of 20 km from the district centre. The monastery is at the site of a previous monastery, which was completely demolished. The monastery's church was built in 1853. Some of the icons were painted by Stanislav Dospevski.


The Ancient Fortress of Almus, town of Lom

The Ancient Fortress of Almus, town of Lom

The town of Lom has a population of about 28 000 inhabitants. It lies at a distance of 49 km north of Montana. Lom is the municipal centre of 9 settlements. The town is a big port on the Danube River. The town is located on the bank of the Danube River at the mouth of its tributary - the Lom River. On the territory of the municipality there are remains of a Thracian settlement and an ancient fortress Almus. During XII - XIII c. Lom was a Bulgarian town and in XIII c. was described in Hungarian documents as the fortress of Lom. During the Ottoman yoke it was a port town and was described in the Ottoman tax registry books from 1591. During XIX c. the town was a thriving port and a trade centre. In 1856 one of the first community centers in Bulgaria was founded in Lom and one of the first theatrical performances was staged. Lom was liberated in 1877.

The tourist sights of the town are: the history museum, the building of the community centre, the remains of the ancient fortress of Almus, the church "St. Nikolai Stari", the temple "Uspenie Bogorodichno"/The Assumption/ (1890), the fireman's tower and observation post (1879).


The town of Varshetz

The town of Varshetz

The town of Varshetz has a population of 7 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 32 km southeast of Montana. The town is the municipal centre of 9 component settlements. Varshetz is located at the foot of the Todorini Kuli peak along the northern slopes of Stara Planina in the valley of the Botunya River.

The town is known for its mild climate, picturesque landscape and mineral springs. They have been used ever since the Roman Empire. There are some mineral springs with a temperature of 37oC and a capacity of 24 litres per second. The water is suitable for healing cardio-vascular diseases and diseases of the central nervous system. Varshetz is a national spa and climatic resort. In the region of Varshetz there are interesting landmarks and recreation sites.


Carpets, the town of Chiprovtzi

Carpets, the town of Chiprovtzi

The town of Chiprovtzi has a population of 2 370 inhabitants and is the municipal centre of 9 settlements. It lies at a distance of 35 km from Montana. The town is located at the foot of Western Stara Planina. The Ogosta River springs from the high parts of the mountain and runs through the town.

The settlement dates back to the Thracian times. The main mean of living for the people was the ore-mining. The first name of the settlement was Kiprovetz and came from the name of a coin. During the Roman Empire the area was among the most significant gold regions on the Balkans. After VI c. the Slavs populated the region. The town reached its economic and cultural zenith during the first three centuries under the Ottoman yoke. Goldsmith's trade was the most well developed trade and makes the town one of the big goldsmith's centers on the Balkan Peninsula during XVI c. and XVII c. Many churches, schools and beautiful houses were built during the period of economic growth. The town was described in the Ottoman documents in 1666. During XIX c. the carpet-weaving industry was the fastest growing one in the region. The Chiprovtzi woolen carpets are hand-woven on a vertical loom. These carpets brought world fame to the town. Carpet weaving remains the main industry of the town till present days. The Chiprovtzi Monastery "St. Yoan Rilski" lies at a distance of 6 km from the town. It was founded in X c. The Lopushanski Monastery lies at a distance of 20 km from Chiprovtzi.

Tourist sights of the town are: The Katerina's house with a demonstration of caret-weaving techniques, the church "Vaznesenie Hristovo"/Christ's Ascension/ (XIV c.) and the Chiprovtzi Monastery.


Ethnographic Museum, Berkovitza

Ethnographic Museum, Berkovitza

The town of Berkovitza has a population of 15 000 inhabitants and is the municipal centre of 19 component settlements. It lies at a distance of 24 km southwest of Montana. The town is located at the western part of Stara Planina in a small valley by the Berkovska River at an altitude of 405 m.

The town is the successor of an old Roman settlement located on the road Lom-Sofia. The Petrohan pass is the shortest way to the White Sea on the western part of the Danube River. To the west of the town were discovered the remains of a fortress and a church dating from the IV c. The first evidence for the existence of the town is from the time of king Kaloyan. The town was mentioned with its present-day name in an Ottoman document from 1491. During XVII-XVIII c. the settlement was a craftsman's centre. During the Revival period many public buildings were such as the clock tower, some churches and a school.

The tourist sights of the town are: the church "Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno"/ Virgin Mary's Birth/ (1843), the clock tower (1762), the church "St. Nikolai Chudotvoretz" (1871), the ethnographic museum, the Klissura Museum( 11 km from Berkovitza), the remains of a Roman and medieval fortresses, the Haidushki waterfall. The village of Barzia lies at a distance of 6 km south of Berkovitza. The village is a spa and mountainous resort. The mineral waters in the region have a temperature of 31oC.

Tourist sights

Klisurski Monastery of St. Cyril and St. Methodius

Klisurski Monastery of St. Cyril and St. Methodius

The clock tower is the symbol of Berkovitza. It was built in 1762-1764. The tower has a square body of 11,80 m height. It is built of stone with mortar solder.

The church "St Nikolai Chudotvoretz" in Berkovitza was built in 1871. The murals were painted by Stanislav Dospevski, Nikola Dospevski, Nikola Obrazopisov and other talented Bulgarian artists.

The church "Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno"/Virgin Mary's Birth/ in Berkovitza was built in 1843. The church has precious mural paintings and an iconostasis made by Dimiter Zograf.

Kaleto is a site near Berkovitza where there are remains of a Roman and a medieval Bulgarian fortress. The fortress was built in a terrace manner with three defense girdles. The foundations of early Christian churches from IV-V c. were discovered during excavation works.

The Klissura Monastery in Berkovitza was founded in 1240. In 1862 it was completely demolished by the Berkovitza pasha Yusuf Bey on the St. St. Cyril and Methodius day and all worshipers and the monks were killed. In 1869 the monastery was built again by the archimandrite Antim Damyanov. The complex includes two churches, three housing buildings, a yard and a kitchen building.


The town of Boichinovtzi has a population of 2 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 16 km northeast of Montana. The town is the municipal centre of 12 settlements. The municipality has a well-developed food processing industry and agriculture.


Railway Station, the town of Brusartzi

Railway Station, the town of Brusartzi

The town of Brusartzi has a population of 1 600 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 32 km northwest of Montana. The town is the municipal centre of 9 settlements. Brusartzi is a junction railway station. The municipality is specialized in the production of grain, sunflower, sugar beet, vegetables. Stock breeding is also well-developed.


The village of Yakimovo lies at a distance of 35 km north of the district centre Montana. The village is the administrative centre of 3 settlements. Yakimovo is situated along the Tzibritza River which springs from Fore-Balkan and flows into the Danube River. Yakimovo has a population of about 2 400 inhabitants. The region is specialized in the food processing industry and agriculture. On the territory of the municipality were discovered pre-historic tools, two Thracian tomb-mounds and a Thracian settlement. Here was discovered the Yakimovo treasure dating from II c. B.C. It is a Thracian treasure consisting of silver vessels and jewels. On the territory of the village there are remains of an ancient fortress and an early Middle Age settlement. The settlement was described in the Ottoman documents in 1576 with the name of Kotufcha.


Lopushanski Monastery "St. John the Baptist", village of Georgi Damyanovo

Lopushanski Monastery "St. John the Baptist", village of Georgi Damyanovo

The village of Georgi Damyanovo lies at a distance of 19 km from the district centre Montana. The village is a municipal administrative centre of 12 component settlements. Georgi Damyanovo has a population of 700 inhabitants. Until 1958 the village was known under the name of Lopushna. The municipality is specialized in the production of grain, wine, fodder cultures, vines and fruits. To the southwest of the village is situated the Lopushanski Monastery.


The village of Medkovetz lies at a distance of 31 km north of Montana. The village is the municipal centre of 4 settlements. Medkovetz has a population of about 2 400 inhabitants. The municipality is specialized in agriculture - in the production of sugar beet, vegetables and sunflower.


Church, the town of Vulchedrum

Church, the town of Vulchedrum

The town of Vulchedrum has a population of 5 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 35 km north of the district centre. The town is the municipal centre of 10 component settlements. In the vicinities of the town were discovered the remains of a medieval settlement and a necropolis. On the territory of the municipality are grown technical cultures, tobacco, vines and vegetables. Tock breeding is also well-developed.

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