The town of Gabrovo (76 591 inhabitants) is situated in Northern Bulgaria, along Yantra River, in the north Sredna Stara Planina mountain spur, 392 m above the sea-level. Gabrovo is 220 km north-east from the city of Sofia. The geographical centre of Bulgaria is in the immediate vicinity of Gabrovo. Because of its locality the town is a busy road junction. The nearest river port is in the town of Ruse (160 km). The nearest sea port is in the town of Bourgas (230 km).
During the Middle Ages some tradesmen and craftsmen set up their business there. Some people were occupied with wood, metal, wool, and leather-working and the tradition was handed down until nowadays. At the end of the last century a lot of factories were built and stock-joint companies of European kind were set up there.
Due to its clean mountain air, historical and ethnographical complexes Gabrovo has become an attractive tourist centre. Municipality and the surrounding area is considered to be one of the most ecologically clean regions in Bulgaria. The rich flora and fauna come to prove that. There are some places of interest, which are of national and international importance. The House of Humour and Satire is one of these places. There you can see different art and ethnographical exhibitions and collections of African ritual and carnival masks and accessories. Thousands of world famous humourists from more than 150 countries have visited the House of Humour and Satire during the Festivals of Humour and Satire.
The most picturesque place in Gabrovo is Etara architectural and ethnographical complex - a unique open-air museum. The Bulgarian Renaissance atmosphere is preserved there in the old workshops of traditional Bulgarian arts and crafts. The visitors can watch the craftsmen doing everything by their own hands and by water-driven machinery. There are some hotels, restaurants, and taverns available. Near Gabrovo is the 600-year-old village Bozhentsi - an architectural and historical reserve. Bozhentsi is located in a pretty valley, and all its authentic houses date back to the Renaissance period. Bozhentsi is an excellent place for individual and family tourism. Uzana is a mountain locality near Gabrovo. It is a suitable place for your winter and summer holiday. Here you can do some skiing, horse-riding, mountain-climbing, etc.
Visitors can see the unique expositions of the History Museum, Art Gallery and National Museum of Education.
Gabrovo originated from the Middle Ages as a strategic settlement in the proximity of the Balkan Mountain Passes. According to the legend a young blacksmith named Racho settled on these lands along Yantra River. He used to shoe the horses of the caravans that traveled to and from the mountains allowing the settlers to travel more easily. These new settlers were able to sew clothes, to cook delicious dishes, to repair carts and to process leather. Near the furnace of the blacksmith there was a huge hornbeam /in Bulgarian - gabar/, so they named the place Gabrovo in memory of its humble origins.
In that way Racho Kovacha (the Blacksmith) established the settlement, and it was named after the hornbeam. Today the monument of Racho Kovacha raises in the very centre of the town – an imposing bronze figure, situated on a rock in the river. Citizens apprehend the monument as a symbol of the creative and tireless Gabrovian spirit that all the generations have preserved. At the end of the 12th century due to the proximity of the town to the capital Veliko Tarnovo, the handcrafts and trade developed here.
During the years of the Ottoman rule Gabrovo was a big craftsmanship and trade centre. During 19th century 26 craftsmanships were practiced here. In 1860 Gabrovo was proclaimed as a town and the first manufacturing enterprise opened. The first Bulgarian church school was opened in 1825. Since 1889 the school was named "Aprilov’s High School", by the name of its founder.
The House of Humour and Satire possesses works of authors from 153 countries. They are exhibited in 10 halls with an area of 8000 square meters. The unique Etara open-air museum is situated at a distance of 8 km from the centre of the town. It is worth visiting the National Museum of Education, Aprilov High School, Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, which exhibits Bulgarian and foreign works of art, Bayov Bridge, built by Koliu Ficheto in 1855, the Assumption Church, and the Clock Tower (1835).
· Drama Theatre Racho Stoyanov
· Puppet Theatre
· Experimental Theatre of Satire and Variety
There are regular bus lines to Sofia, V. Tarnovo and other cities in the region.
Sokolski Monastery – 12 km from Gabrovo. Liuliatsite Resort – 15 km west of Gabrovo. The climate renders a favourable influence in relation to some pulmonary diseases. A marked hiking routes starts from here in the direction of Central Ridge of Stara Planina. There is a regular bus transport. The mountain resort Uzana – 22 km south-west from the town. There are several hotels, 3 tourism’s chalets, a ski-lift, a base of the Mountain Rescue Service. The historical Shipka Pass – 21 km south of Gabrovo.
The historical peak of Buzludza – 12 km east from the pass. All the busses running between Gabrovo and Kazanlak stop at the Shipka Pass but there is no regular running transport to Buzludza.
The architectural ethnographic reserve - the village of Bojentzi – 16 km east of Gabrovo.
The natural park of Gradishte, located high above Gabrovo amidst a pine forest, is a wonderful place for walks and outgoings.