History and Stories of the city of Lovech

Lovech, Bulgaria is the home of Vinal Winery.  It is an ancient city, full of history and marvelous buildings and stories. Here is just a little taste of some of the history and stories of Lovech.

History and Stories of Lovech - city of lilacs
Lovech, city of the lilacs

History and Stories of the city of Lovech

Lovech is a city in north-central Bulgaria. Lovech is situated in the Forebalkan area of northern Bulgaria, on both sides of the river Osam, and unifies both mountainous and plain relief. It is the administrative centre of the Lovech Province and is located about 150 kilometres (93 miles) northeast from the capital city of Sofia.

Ancient history

Lovech is one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Traces of human activities from very ancient times were found in the region, mainly in the caves near the town.

The first inhabitants of the town were the Thracian tribe of the Meldi, whose traces date back to the 4th or 3rd centuries BC. They founded their capital, called Melta, in the area, which was situated at the place of today’s neighbourhood and architecture reserve Varosha. Later, when the Balkans were occupied by the Roman Empire, a military station called Prezidium was founded near the modern town, which was situated at an important strategic position on one of the main Roman roads. Parts of this road are to be seen in the territory of Lovech today.

History and Stories of Lovech - ancient fortress
An ancient fortress overlooks Lovech

During the Middle Ages, the former Roman citadel Hisarya, which is situated on the hill of the same name, was the place where in 1187 the peace treaty between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire was signed and the returning of Bulgaria on the European map was officially declared, marking the beginning of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

In the 12th century Lovech was a great trade center and one of the most famous towns in Bulgaria.

Lovech, city of the lilacs
In Stratesh Park (the highest place in the town) there are a great number of lilac bushes, easily seen from the whole town, which are a wonderful view in the spring. Due to this, Lovech is well known as the “City of the Lilacs.”

In the 17th century, Lovech was under Ottoman rule and was once again an important trade centre and one of the richest towns in Bulgaria, and was called Altın Lofça (Golden Lovech, from the Turkish) at the time.

Between 1872 and 1874, the Bulgarian master-builder Nikola Fichev built the famous Covered Bridge over the river Osam, the only one of its kind in the Balkans. The bridge was burned out in 1925, but rebuilt in 1931. Now it connects the new and the old part of the town and it’s full of cafes, small restaurants and many souvenir shops.

History and Stories of Lovech - Nikola Fichev
Nikola Fichev

Nikola Fichev was a Bulgarian National Revival architect, builder and sculptor born in Dryanovo in 1800.

Left an orphan without a father at the age of three, Kolyu Ficheto was taught craftsmanship by the masterhands in the Tryavna town since he was ten. He learned stonecutting in the Albanian town of Korçë when he was 17, and then mastered the construction of churches, bell towers and bridges from the craftsmen in Bratsigovo.

Ficheto became a journeyman at the age of 23 and was fully recognized as a master craftsman by the whole builders’ guild at 36. Aside from his native language Bulgarian, he spoke fluent Turkish and good Greek and Romanian, but was illiterate, unable to read and write. Kolyu Ficheto is known for having lain under one of his own bridges to guarantee its safety with his life.

Fichev died in Veliko Tarnovo, where he was buried, in 1881.

Besides the Lovech Covered Bridge, some of Fichev’s most notable works include the Byala Bridge over the Yantra River close to Byala and several churches located throughout Bulgaria.

Visting Lovech

There are many lovely (and historic) places for a visitor to see in Lovech.

Of course, the most famous is the Covered Bridge connecting the two parts of the town across the Osam River.

Lovech Bridge Treasures Bulgaria
The Covered Bridge

Lovech is filled with historic medieval buildings but there are also many fine examples of baroque buildings in the town’s central parts.

History and Stories of Lovech - Baroque architecture
Lovech’s Baroque architecture
History and Stories of Lovech - Coat of Arms

Coat of arms of Lovech

Much of the information used in this story comes from Wikipedia. Many thanks to them!