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Koprivshtitsa

 
     Sunshine colours and romance are what characterise the typical 19th century atmosphere preserved and lingering in Koprivshtitsa. Every single house here is part of Bulgaria's history. It was here, that the first shot of the April Uprising against the Ottoman rule rang out in 1876. The town of Koprivshtitsa is situated near Topolnitsa River, at 1060 m above the sea level. It has 2 600 inhabitants. It is situated at the distance of 110 km south-east of Sofia and 80 km north-west of Plovdiv. Koprivshtitsa is a town-museum and unique settlement in Bulgaria, which has preserved over 250 patterns of the Renaissance Period architecture.
     Around 1930-1950 the influence of the Plovdiv symmetric house put an end to the development of the "wooden house" in Koprivshtitsa, changing the nature of construction, as well as the interior. The houses dating from the second half of the 19th century are exquisite with their multi-coloured facades and sunny verandas, with their protruding eaves and recesses, carved ceiling and stylish European furniture. The scheme comes close to that of the "Baroque" Plovdiv house - the centre is occupied by the increasingly larger and more representative salon, whose height had more than doubled by this time. Koprivshtitsa houses never gained the scale of the Plovdiv ones, but then their aim was different - more intimate architectural compositions with dense colours and harmonious contrasts.
 
     History

     Koprivshtitsa originated as a settlement during the 14th century. Its population dealt with cattle – breeding, manufacturing of aba, furriery, dyeing and other crafts. The citizens of Koprivshtitsa proved to be good merchants too, reaching as far as Istanbul and Alexandria. The wealthy and urbanized settlement was plundered and destroyed by fire by the Turkish brigands three times and rebuilt from ashes to reach its greatest prosperity during the 19th century when it had a population of nearly 12 000 inhabitants. Spacious houses, schools, churches, fountains and bridges were built there during that period. 
     In 1837 the first monastery school, and in 1864 a girls’ intermediate high school were opened here. Three years later Todor Kableshkov opened the students’ society Zora. In the same year Vasil Levski established a revolutionary committee in it. On 20th of April 1876 first shot of the April Uprising against Ottoman Rule rang out here and gave the start of the heroic April epopee of the Bulgarian people. Todor Kableshkov announced the Uprising and another citizen of Koprivshtitsa - Gavrail Hlutev, known to the generations to come as Georgi Benkovski - was the adamant and ardent leader of the people’s rebellion. The town is birth place of a lot of functionaries of our Renaissance Period, such as Bogdan Voyvoda, Doncho Voyvoda, Dobri Voyvoda, Dimcho Debelianov.
 
     Landmarks

     Koprivshtitsa is one of the few thoroughly preserved architectural urban ensembles of the Renaissance Period. Its colourful houses with spacious courtyards surrounded with high stone walls and gates, the disorderly built curved and narrow cobblestone little streets and plots, the numerous stone fountains contribute to the attractiveness of the little town and some of them have been turned into museums. One of these museums is Oslekov's House. It is the most famous architectural, ethnographic site in the town, ownership of a rich merchant from Koprivshtitsa in the middle of the 19th century. The home of Georgi Benkovski – the leader of the April Uprising is also interesting. The wooden gun, the banner of the Flying Detachment of armed volunteers sewed by Raina Popgeorgieva and the arms of the Voyvoda are the most priceless relics of that tempestuous time. 
     You also can visit the house of Luben Karavelov that acquaints you with the revolutionary and journalistic activities of one of the most prominent sons of Koprivshtitsa and Bulgaria. Dimcho Debelianov House – the life and the literally activities of the most lyrical Bulgarian poet are reflected in it. Like in the other houses-museums, here the atmosphere, in which Dimcho Debelianov has lived and has crested his poems, can still be felt. Except these houses you can visit the church St. Nikolai and the Mausoleum – Ossuary – 20th April devoted to those, who died during the April Uprising. You should not miss the monument of Todor Kableshkov and Kableshkov's House.
 
     Transport

     The key transport through which the town is linked with the remaining parts of the country is the railway transport. Koprivshtitsa is on the principal railway line Sofia – Karlovo – Bourgas but it is situated at a distance of 10 km north of the town itself. It is connected with it through a bus line servicing each passing train. Koprivshtitsa maintain regular bus lines to Plovdiv, Panagyurishte, Strelcha and Pirdop. 
 
     Surrounding Areas

     The town is a starting point for numerous tourist routes and eco tracks in the highest and the most beautiful part of Real Sredna Gora. A marked route starts from it in the direction of: Bogdan Chalet (a 3- to 4-hours walk), from where one can climb the highest peak of Sredna Gora – Mount Bogdan (1604 m above the sea level). There are also routes to Manzul Chalet (a 3.30 to 4 hours walk), Krustyo Cholakov Chalet (a 2.30 – 3-hours walk) 11 km along an earth road, the Barikadite Chalet (a 4 – 4.30 hours walk). An excursion to the Central Stara Planina may start from the railway station of Koprivshtitsa. It takes 6 to 8 hours to get to Vezhen Chalet.