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!

Treasures of Bulgaria

Treasures of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is home to many rare and beautiful wonders, from the oldest gold treasure in the world to its sparkling natural springs. Bulgaria is a country with thousands of years of history, and its archaeological discoveries contain beautiful evidence of a long history of art, craftsmanship and innovation. Here are just a few examples of the treasures of Bulgaria.

The oldest gold treasure in the world

In October 1972, an excavator in Varna, Bulgaria, accidentally discovered a site containing the oldest golden treasure in the world, dating back from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC. The burial site, named the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis, contained more than 300 graves with various ornaments, pottery, copper, stone tools, and more. Out of these, 3,000+ artifacts made from gold were discovered within different graves. The most gold, however, was discovered inside Grave 43, including a golden scepter which indicated the buried man was of high status.

Gold Bulgarian Treasures

The Rogozen Treasure

The Rogozen Treasure is stored in a special hall in the Regional History Museum in Vratsa. It consists of 165 silver vessels, decorated by gilding. Multiple mythological scenes are presented on the vessels. It is believed that the treasure dates back to the 4th century BC and was collected by generations of Thracian kings. A golden crown and golden earrings, found in the Mogilan mound, dating back to the 4th century BC are also presented in the Vratsa museum.

Silver Bulgarian Treasures

The world’s oldest intact shipwreck

Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.

The 23-metre (75ft) vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface. A lack of oxygen at that depth preserved it, the researchers said.

“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), the team that made the find. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.

Ancient Ship Bulgarian Treasures

The Covered Bridge of Lovech, Bulgaria.

The bridge crosses the Osam River, connecting the old and new town parts of Lovech, being possibly the most recognizable symbol of the town. The bridge is one of the few remaining in Europe that have shops on them. Other examples include the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

After the bridge that then served the town was almost completely destroyed by a flood in 1872, the local police chief ordered the famous Bulgarian master builder Kolyu Ficheto to construct a new one. Ficheto personally chose the material for the wooden bridge. Each citizen of Lovech contributed to the building process, the poorer ones working themselves and the wealthier donating money and paying other workers. The building was finished in 1874.

The initial bridge had a length of 84 m and 6 vents and accommodated 64 shops. It was, however, wholly destroyed by fire on the night of 2 to 3 August 1925. A more modern bridge was constructed at its place in 1931 only to be replaced by a reconstruction of Kolyu Ficheto’s design in 1981–82. The current bridge is 106 m long and has 14 shops, the architect being Zlatev.

The bridge was decorated by four sculpture figures, a lion, a two-headed eagle, female bust, and a stick with a mace. The lion figure can still be found on the bridge today.

Lovech Bridge Treasures Bulgaria

The waters of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is abundant in mineral water sources, many of which have valuable healthy properties. Quality mineral water is not only bottled and sold commercially to low prices, but in areas where springs exist, these are usually available to the public to drink and fill their own bottles with. This is even the case in the capital Sofia, which has a public mineral water spring in its urban center.

Famous mineral and spring water locations include Bankya, Knyazhevo, Gorna Banya (all three adjacent to Sofia), Devin, Hisarya, Sapareva Banya (site of the hottest geyser in continental Europe), Varshets, Velingrad and Mihalkovo (where water comes out naturally carbonated).







Photos of Lovech Bridge

Klearchos Kapoutsis – https://www.flickr.com/photos/klearchos/2876032281/
Creative Commons 2.0

Tips for drinking vodka Bulgarian-style

When drinking with Bulgarians, it is important to observe the ritual of cheers. The Bulgarian word for “Cheers” is “Nazdráve” (literally, “on health”). You may state it loudly once in the overall din, but it is important to make eye contact with every drinking companion as your glasses or bottles touch. Subsequent rounds of salutation may occur, in which case the same rules apply.

It also helps to understand the social role of drinking in Bulgaria. In most cases the consumption of alcohol is aimed less at getting drunk and more at facilitating social interactions. Alcohol is consumed in grand quantities, but at a leisurely pace, never downed at once, and it is almost unfailingly coupled with some sort of accompanying snack. The Russians call this “zakuski”, while in Bulgaria we prefer the Turkish word “meze”. Meze is typically served alongside rakia, vodka or wine. As expected, each type of alcohol calls for different types of meze.

Vodka is best consumed neat, alongside a glass of tomato juice or with pickles, pickled fish or kiselo zele. Blended whiskey is paired with salted nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts), while single malt whiskey can and should be consumed without meze.


(Thanks to Blazing Bulgaria for this very useful info!)