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Berkovitsa

   

     Berkovitsa (16 820 inhabitants, 400 meters above the sea level) is situated in the northern foot of Berkovski Balkan (Western Stara Planina). It is at a distance of 89 km north from Sofia and 24 km south from Montana.
 
     History
     Berkovitsa is an old settlement. This is confirmed by the remains of a fortress and a church from the 4th century on the Kale hill, situated to the north - west of the town. The settlement is known from the reign of tsar Kaloyan (the beginning of the 13th century) and in the time of the Vidin kingdom (the second half of the 14th century) it is a border fortress. Berkovitsa is mentioned in written form for the first time in a Turkish document dated 1491. During the Ottoman rule it has developed as a craft settlement – mainly in wood processing and pottery. A great number of refugees from other parts of the country settled here. The inhabitants of Berkovitsa have raised many times their heads against the Ottomans. After the Liberation in 1878 the town declined, because it remained away from the railway passing through the Iskar gorge, thus losing markets in Ottoman Empire for its crafts goods. The national poet Ivan Vazov worked for a certain time in Berkovitsa as a chairman of the court.

 
     Cultural – Historical Sights

     The House-museum Ivan Vazov in the central part of the town of the town is a precious architectural monument with an interesting exterior and interior architecture: wood carved ceilings and original fire – place, shelves. Permanent ethnographic exhibition are displayed in an architectural monument of culture, in a close proximity to the House-museum Ivan Vazov. The clock tower is remarkable for its solid construction and beautiful upper part, in which the clock mechanism still works. It was constructed in 1762 and is one of the oldest towers in the country. 
 
     Transport

     Road and railway transport connects Berkovitsa with the rest of the world. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Montana, Lom, Varshets and many other smaller villages in the region. Berkovitsa is the last railway station of the local railway line Boichinovtsi – Montana – Berkovitsa. 
 
     Surroundings

     The northern slopes of the Berkovitski Balkan, at the foot of which Berkovitsa is situated, are famous for their chestnut woods – one of the two natural finds of tame chestnut in Bulgaria.
     Kaleto – woody hill (515 ΠΌ) to the northwest near the town. It is a natural forest park and a protector of Berkovitsa from wind. Here are the remains of Roman and medieval Bulgarian fortresses.
     Varshets resort (18 km to the southeast) is a balneological center of national importance and it is the biggest one in north - western Bulgarian. It is nestled in a small valley, surrounded to the south by the main ridge of Stara Planina mountain and to the east by the Vratsa Balkan.
     Klisura Monastery was founded in 1240 and has a striking outlook. There is no regular transport to it.
     Barzia village – 6 km south from Berkovitsa. Mountain and balneological resort of local importance. All buses going through the Petrohan pass stop there. The Petrohan pass (1444 m above the sea level, 25 km south from Berkovitsa). The road from Sofia to Berkovitsa, Varshets, Montana, Lom, and Vidin stands on the main road.