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SOFIA REGION

INTRODUCTION
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Etropole
Town
Postal code: 2170
Dialing code: 0720
Population: 12 386 inhabitants
Web site: www.etropole.net

The town of Etropole (580 m above sea level) is 87 km north-east of Sofia and 25 km south-east of Botevgrad. It is situated at the northern foothills of Etropolska Mountain (the most eastern part of Western Stara Planina), in the beautiful hollow of the Malki Iskar River.

HISTORY

Etropole was founded in c. 7-6 BS. Its first settlers were Thracians. The settlement was situated at important crossroads connecting the Danube with Macedonia and Thrace, near two important passes in the Balkan Mountain. The archaeological evidence - Macedon and Greek coins, samples of Greek ceramics, luxury objects and finery, show an early establishment of commercial relations with remote markets - Phoenicia and Egypt.

The Etropole School of Literature and Calligraphy was founded in c. 16-17 in the Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) Monastery, also called "Varovitets", situated in a picturesque area about 5 km southeast of the town. Biblical or liturgical literature was copied there with an original style of letter-drawing and decoration 76 volumes of manuscripts are still preserved - invaluable documents of the treasure of Bulgarian literature.

SIGHTSEEING

  • The Town Museum of History (107, Rouski Blvd., tel.: 0720 2124, working hours: - 8.30 a.m. - 12.00 p.m. and 1.30 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.) housed the local Town Council during the ottoman rule. It was built in 1853-1870 by the Etropole masters Deno and Tsvetko in a typical Bulgarian National Revival style.
  • The Clock tower was built in 1710. It first served as an observation and defence tower. It is made of river stones. Its total height is 20 m. It was refashioned into a clock tower in 1821. The clock, made by the master Dido, still works.
  • Interesting as well are the Jewish Tower dating back to 14th century and the 20 metres high Defence Turret (Rouski Blvd.).
  • St. Archangel Mihail Church is located at Malki Pazar Square - in the centre of the town. It was first mentioned in 1600, but the present building dates back to 1837, famous with its iconostasis of fine walnut woodcarving. The altar door and the Bishop's Throne are beautifully worked.
  • St. George Church (10, Hristo Botev Str.) was erected in the middle of 17th century on the foundations of an old medieval church, completely ruined during the attacks of the kurdzhalii. It was completely built of river stones and pebbles.
  • Twenty-five Revival houses attract the visitors’ attention. Beautifully scattered along the river of Malki Iskar, they are distinguished for their exuberant and rich wood-carved ceilings, doors, cupboards, hearth places, columns, etc. The walls are whitewashed and colourfully wood-framed. The most typical houses are the Pavelponchov’s, the Hadzhi-grigorov’s, the Vulchev’s, and the Arnaou-dov’s houses.
  • The Aranaoudovata Kashta is a two-storey house with a wide balcony. The building is an architectural cultural monument from the middle of c. 19.

TOURIST INFORMATION

Tourist information is available at the hotels, the Tourist House and at Staroplaninski Tourist Association on Tourism (located in the building of the public forestry building, P.O.Box 53, tel.: 0720 3506).

TRANSPORT

Bus transport is the only available. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Botevgrad, Pravets, Yablanitsa, Lukovit, etc. The bus station (tel.: 0720 2300) is situated at the southeastern end of the town.

SURROUNDING AREAS

The Etropole monastery Holy Trinity, founded in 1158 and also known as “Varovitetc” is located at the distance of 5 km. from Etropole and at 90 km. from Sofia. The monastery church was restored in 1682. The monastery has played a major role in the Bulgarian spiritual and historical development in 16 th and 17 th centuries.

The Varovitska school developed there, in which have been worked famous writers, calligraphers, artists. From that period is the Monastery library, which has preserved all manuscripts and church books. Nowadays they are in the National library “St. St. Kiril and Metodii”.

Now in the Monastery are preserved a lot of old precious icons, gilt reliquary and two decorated silver crosses. There are two chapels – “St. Joan” and “St. St. Kozma and Damyan”, settled north and south of the narthex. The Monastery is pronounced for a cultural monument. Now it is an active monastery.

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