Cultural-historical resources

Information about Gorna Malina

In Gorna Malina municipality Bulgarian national traditions are still alive. Local folklore lives and devolops much to the interest of folklore and custom lovers. Not seldom do local art ensembles win awards at national folklore contests.

The geographical location of the municipality (at the southern passages of the Balkan Mountain range - Arabakonak and Vitinya) explains the presence of cultural layers and traces of human presence dating back to antiquity. The territory of the municipality was crossed by ancient roads going through the Balkan Mountain.  Archeological excavations revealed ruins from the Roman times. In most settlements in the region there are Orthodox temples, some of which more than 300 years old. The church "St. Dimitar" in the village of Makotsevo is a cultural monument. Some of the frescoes and icons are works of the local iconographer from the 19th century - Yoto (Ivan Nedyalkov) from the village of Makotsevo.

The most precious spiritual heritage that Gorna Malina municipality has to offer to its guests is the house-museum of the classic author in Bulgarian literature, the great master of words, Elin Pelin, located in the village of Baylovo. Literature lovers will get immersed in the world of Elin Pelin's characters.

The municipality's close location to the capital allows  both locals and visitors to enjoy a plenty of cultural diversions, in addition, Sofia district has a rich range of sites of national significance, national parks and protected areas.

Kalugeritsa rock sanctuary is located in valley of Smolska river, between the villages of Baylovo and Smolsko. It is a complex of four (most likely in the past there have been more) caves in travertine rock, which are situated in the lower parts (from 5 to 15 meters above the local erosion basis) of V-shaped section of the river valley. Caves are known among the local population as "Monkish" or "Monastery" caves.

The place is filled with energy and mystique. One theory is that this is an ancient facility (VI - V millennium B.C.), which was used as an Astronomical observatory for trace of moving of the visible celestial objects - the sun, the moon and the stars. In one of the caves the ancient inhabitants had cut down a special site from where they had ideal conditions for observation of the moon. There are traces of drilled square-shaped holes that connecting visually the caves with the sky and the observation site.

Inside the cave, archaeologists have uncovered about 240 images (carved or engraved into the rock), which at first glance resemble circles, but more detailed examination shows that these are different phases of the moon. Some of the signs are complete circles, and others are crescent-shaped, as the moon in the first or third quarter. Especially attractive are the prominent images of moons with low relief, which are relatively rare. It is believed they have recorded the lunar eclipses.

Successive changes of the moon disk are connected in groups of characters representing graphic registrations of certain intervals. Estimated records show periods related to the duration of the climatic seasons, vegetation cycles, the time between the different religious holidays and more.

Along with cut circles and symbols from the ancient times, here are found also crosses, indicating that probably the sanctuary was used during Christianity too.

Main cultural sites (cultural-historical resources)

Municipalities with a certain level of development as tourist destination:

Municipality Koprivshtitsa

The town of Koprivshtitsa is one of the most representative Bulgarian revival towns. In it every stone, house and street are cultural-historical site. Nevertheless below we’ve summarized some of the major tourist sites:

-     House – museum Lyuben Karavelov – It is an architectural ensemble of three houses that were built by local masters for a period of 25 years. The oldest one, namely the “winter house”, dates back to 1810. Lyuben and Petko Karavelov were born in it. The other two are agricultural premise and “summer house”. An interesting exponent is the printing machine that was purchased from the Serbian state printing house in 1871. It had printed not only revolutionary newspapers but also the first Bulgarian constitution – the Tarnovo one;

-     Oslekova house – The house was built in the period 1853-1856 by master Mincho and Kosta Zograf of the Samokov school and upon the order of the wealthy Koprivshtitsa trader Nencho Oslekov. It is featured with rich external and internal decoration: branches of Lebanon cedar, wall-paintings with pictures representing exotic places and towns, wood-carved ceilings;

-     The birth house of Dimcho Debelyanov – Wooden house with saturated blue walls, cuddling in a cosy yard with venerable pines and branchy sour cherry trees, amid the greenery and aroma of flowers. This is the home place of the Bulgarian poet that wrote the most gentle lyrics;

-     House – museum Todor Kableshkov – It was built in 1845 by the Koprivshtitsa master Gencho Mladenov and is a pattern of the Bulgarian revival architecture. It is featured with symmetry, beautiful shapes and spacious glazed saloon at the second floor. Ceilings, doors and cupboards are covered with artificial wood-carving. Todor Kableshkov grew up in this house – chairman of the secret revolutionary committee in Koprivshtitsa that on the 20th of April 1876 announced the April uprising;

-     Lyutova house – It was built in 1854 by Plovdiv masters for Stefan Topalov that was inhabitant of Koprivshtitsa and in 1906 it was sold to the trader Petko Lyutov. It has impressive architecture, richly painted walls and beautifully wood-carved ceilings. The ground floor accommodates permanent exhibition of wool felt – type of non-woven, colourful rugs of wool produced in domestic environment, via specific methods of rolling and pressing and decorating with wool that was coloured with natural agents;

-     House-museum Georgi Benkovski – Wooden house that is located amidst greenery and flowers, at one of the hills in the town of Koprivshtitsa. This is the birthplace /1843/ of Gavril Hlatev, who named himself with the pseudonym Georgi Benkovski and became the organizer of the April uprising;

-     The birth house of Nayden Gerov – The great Bulgarian public figure, politician, teacher and writer – Nayden Gerov was born in this house in 1823;

-     Doganova house – It was built by Plovdiv masters in 1815 for the rich Koprivshtitsa collector of taxes levied on sheep and goats and generous donator that was made immortal in the wall-paintings of the Rila monastery – Petko Doganov. It is a part of picturesque architectural ensemble and impresses with its magnificent wooden façade that was built over cast iron Koprivshtitsa gate. High stone walls enclose its yard and make it look like a stronghold impossible to conquer. The wall-painting and wood-carving decoration was made by the masters who painted the church of “Saint Nicolas” in the town;

-     Other old Bulgarian revival houses – Such as: Markova house, Chalakova house, Mlachkova house, Pavlikyanska house, Stariradeva house etc. Some of them are currently accommodation places;

-     Art gallery – It is located in the building of the school “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” – the first school of individual grades in Bulgaria that was built in 1837 with donations. The gallery offers the town visitors a collection of historical pictures, modern art of painting, graphics, sculptures and icons;

-     Church “The Assumption” – It was built in 1817 for a total of 11 days at the place where a temple was burned down by the Kardzhalii. It is a low building dug into the earth with dim light and paint on the outside, so that it could resemble a house in order not to attract the attention of the people passing by. The iconostasis is of significant art value. It was made by the great Bulgarian wood-carver hadzhi Georgi from Vidin, a representative of the Teteven school. The icons were made by one of the most famous representatives of Samokov school and by the Koprivshtitsa painter Hristo Enchev.;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas” – The construction was initiated in 1842 and after 2 years it was finalized. The temple was built up entirely of stone blocks. Icons were painted by Yoat Popovich, Aleksandar Dimitrov and Hristo Enchev;

-     Monument “The first rifle” – it is located near the “Kalacheviya bridge” where the first shooting was made, initiating the April uprising;

-     Monument – bone-vault of Apriltsi – It is devoted to the ones that had fallen in the liberation struggles of the April epopee. It was built in 1928 with the funding provided by hadzhi Nencho Palaveev. The lower part of the monument is bone-vault and the upper one accommodates a small chapel;

-     Monument of Georgi Benkovski – Its dimensions are impressive and it is located in proximity to the birth home of the revolutionist at a beautiful meadow, in front of the pine wood and with beautiful view facing the town;

Municipality Samokov

The main cultural-historical sites in the municipality could be outlined in the following manner:

-     Historical museum  - It exists ever since the 390-ies of the 20th century. Currently it encompasses over 30 thousand exponents. The ground floor allocates the collection: “Samokov – spirit and metal” and the second one: “Samokov art school”;

-     Sarafska house – It belonged to the rich Jewish Arie family. The building was restored and turned into a museum;

-     Bayrakli mosque – It was open for visitors after coordinating the matter with the Historical museum. It is a restored cultural monument and is the only preserved mosque in town, of the total 12 buildings of this kind that existed during the Ottoman ruling. This is the so-called Old mosque that was subjected to capital reconstruction in the middle of the XIX century and painted around 1845 by the Samokov icon-painters Ivan Ikonopisets, Kosta Valyov and Hristo Yovevich in the decorative style of the Samokov art school;

- Community centre “Otets Paisiy” – This building is unique for Bulgaria since it is a reading room – monument. Its façade was decorated with sculptures and simultaneously was dedicated in memoriam of the Samokov inhabitants that died during the wars after the Liberation;

-     The large fountain – It is the symbol of the town of Samokov. It was built in 1660 in Ottoman style among the bazaar at those times;

-     Chadar fountain – it is located at the bus station, made of marble and with six spouts;

-     Girls’ monastery “Canopy of Virgin Mary” – The monastery was created in 1772 by grandmother Fota – the grandmother of the Bulgarian revival activist Konstantin Fotinov. The holy place is the cradle of girls’ education in Bulgaria and currently one of the largest female monasteries in our country. The complex includes monastery walls, temple, yard with flower garden and house-cells. People could stay overnight here;

-     Bishop’s church “The Assumption” – The church was sanctified in 1793, and in 1805 it was expanded. The iconostasis is monument of wood-carving craft: its initial version was made by master Andon from Sveta Gora. Wood-carving is made on walnut tree boards that were carried from Aton with horse caravan. After the expansion in 1833 master Atanas Teladuro that came from Thessaloniki, made the two lateral wings. The iconostasis was turned into school for the master wood-carvers from Samokov. The icons were initially installed in the iconostasis slots and were made by the icon-painter Hristo Dimitrov thus celebrating the creation of the Samokov school;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas” – It was built in the middle of the 19th century. Its solemn sanctification took place on the 26th of October 1861. At the same time the Greek bishop was chased away of town and the church service was already performed only in Bulgarian. Its yard is the grave place of many prominent Samokov inhabitants;

-     Belyova church “Birth of Virgin Mary” – It is located at 2 km south of town, near the road for Borovets at the place of Late Antiquity temple dating back to 5th – 6th century. In 1737 here they buried the body of the Samokov metropolitan bishop Simeon Popovich that was hung on the 21st of August the same year as an organizer of a rebellion against the Ottomans. The 21st of August was announced for holiday of Samokov and Saint Simeon Samokovski is considered to be the town patron. The wall-paintings are impressive as they were created in the 1869 by Nikola Obrazopisov, Hristo Dupnichanina and Hristaki Zografski. There is an ayasmos with holy water behind the temple;

-     The church “Transfiguration” – Is located in the Borovets resort. The church is unique and it is different than the other Christian temples because it was built entirely of wood in typical English style and according to the project of an Austrian architect in 1933. The temple was built on the basis of the idea of famous and influential public figures, scientists and villa owners in the former Chamkoriya;

-     Alinski monastery “Saint Spas” – It is located at 7 km North-East of the village of Alino. It was founded in the 16th – 17th century and is a cultural monument because of its valuable wall paintings dating back to 1626. The rock “Lilly-of-the-valley” is near the monastery and the water dripping from it is considered to be healing, as well as the remnants of the Medieval stronghold Alinsko kale;

-     The museum complex in the village of Belchin – It is a branch of the Historical museum in Samokov. It includes the ethnographic museum, the restored medieval church “Saint Petka” and the stronghold “Tsari Mali grad” at the “Saint Spas” hill;         

-     Church “Saint Dimitar of Thessaloniki”, the village of Klisura – It was built in 1874 and was proclaimed for cultural monument in 2007.  Forthcoming restoration;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Relyovo – Late Medieval and Bulgarian revival church. Cultural monument. Upcoming restoration;

-     Roman sarcophagus “The lass” – It is located at about one kilometre away, in the locality “Saint Rangel”, South-West of the village of Alino. The monument is granite sarcophagus of the Roman epoch. It is carved of two monolith stone blocks, each of them weighing around 2-3 tonnes. It was covered with hillock embankment and currently it is amid the plough lands of the field;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Maritsa – Medieval church located in the South-Eastern part of the river of Maritsa. It has valuable wall-paintings dating back to the 16th century, announced for art cultural monument of national significance.

Municipality Pravets

The main cultural-historical resources in the municipality are the following:

-     Historical museum – It was opened in 1981 and is located in the centre of the town at “T. Zhivkov” Square. It has personal exhibition and place for temporary exhibitions. The exhibition reflects in general historical way the development of Pravets region from ancient times to the first decades of the 20th century;

-     Museum complex –  It was established in 2002 in the former “Reception building of Pravets”. Part of the gift collection of Todor Zhivkov was exhibited as they were moved from “Boyana” residence. These are items from all over the world that the former head of state received;

-     The birth house of Todor Zhivkov – It was included in the museum complex and is open for visitors. The house is in its current condition since 1974 when it was restored. It is a late Bulgarian revival, Balkan type of house at two floors, with architectural and ethnographic rehabilitation.

-     Monument of Todor Zhivkov – it is located at the entrance of the town;

-     The church “Atanasiy the Great” – It was built in 1853 and in 1895 it was reconstructed. The temple became larger and larger. It is single-nave church. It had two domes, one of them is no longer existing. The beautifully mastered icons and iconostasis attract visitors’ attention. The church is art cultural monument of local significance;

-     Pravets monastery “Saint Teodor Tiron” – It is located at 3 km from the town of Pravets. It was built in 1866 and is cultural monument. It is single-nave pseudo basilica of Aton type, with inbuilt relievo and basso relievo along the façade, depicting Russian coins, stone inscriptions with master’s name and the names of the church donors. The valuable items are the icons including the recently restored temple icon. Monastery’s kitchen is also cultural monument, as well as part of the domestic building – with two storeys and with veranda;

-     Tunyakovski inn (The inn of Vutyo Popivanov) – Located along the main road, at the end of the village of Vidrare. It was built in 1820. Original restoration of the inn was performed. The hiding-place of Vasil Levski there is preserved;

-     Old school with separates grades, village of Vidrare – It is located in the village centre, next to the church yard. The building was erected in the period of 1846-1847. The new Bulgarian school in Vidrare opened its doors on 01.01.1848, only 13 years after Gabrovo. The exhibition located on the second floor reflects village’s development from Ancient times to the first years after the Liberation from Ottoman ruling. Original recovery of classroom was performed;

-     Church “Saint Paraskeva”, village of Vidrare – Three-nave basilica with entrance hall and roof of crushed stone plates, with interesting façade. It was restored in 1834 and the evidence for this is the stone plate that was placed there with inscription in church Slavic language, located in the Northern part of the temple above the entrance gate;

-     Church “Saint Archangel Michael”, village of Osikovitsa – Three-nave basilica with dome-like roof and entrance hall, covered with stone plates. It was built for a total of 54 days by the local people in 1834 on the grounds of a firman issued by the Ottoman Porte. The iconostasis is of significant value as its wood-carving was performed by the Samokov master Hristo. Icons date back to the first half of the 19th century. In 1870 the brothers Naum and Nencho Chibukovi from the village of Seltse (Western Macedonia), covered the iconostasis with gold and painted the apostle icons;

-     Church “Saint Nicola”, village of Svoge – It was built in 1879-1881 by master Georgi Mikov. It was made of stone and mortar. Single-nave, single-apse basilica with two-slope roof and vault entrance with wall-painted icon of Saint Nicola. The temple contains the only iconostasis with painted large church Slavonic letters of the Bulgarian alphabet, along its entire side. Bell-tower was constructed in the church yard in 1898;

-     Chekotin monastery “Saint Archangel Michael” –  One could get to the Chekotin monastery along the asphalt road from Hemus motorway that is marked with road signs. The turn is near the town of Pravets as you should head for the town of Roman. It is located next to the neighbourhood that is named in the same manner. It has been here ever since the Second Bulgarian kingdom. The temple was semi-demolished and it was restored in the period of 1820-1830 upon the initiative of priest Nikola Savchev. Ethnographic studies testify that the monastery was built on an old cult place, probably sanctuary, over the foundations of ancient temple.

Municipality Etropole

The main cultural sites could be outlined in the following manner:

-     The historical museum – It was opened in the end of 1958 in the building of the former monastery school in the yard of the church “Saint George”. In 1968 in the restored building of the former town-hall new exhibition of the museum was opened. The current exhibition was thoroughly renewed in 1992. The building of the former town-hall was erected in the period 1853 – 1870 by the Etropole masters Deno and Tsvetko and it is architectural cultural monument. The museum exhibition presents the rich cultural-historical heritage of the municipality in 10 exhibition halls. Over 1200 cultural valuable items are presented, as well as many photographs and documents;

-     The clock tower – It was built in 1710 and is one of the oldest in Bulgaria. Its constructor is master Todor and initially it served as defence tower. In 1821 it was reconstructed as a clock by master Dido and is still giving the sharp time. Tower’s height is 20 meters and it consists of three parts. The masonry work was performed of river stones and bigor. There is a stone dial-plate at its Western part with note referring to the year in which it was built.

-     Primary school “Hristo Botev” – This is the oldest school in the town of Etropole, located in a building with interesting architecture;

-     The church “Saint Archangel Michael” – This is the largest church in the town of Etropole. It was built in 1837 thanks to the donation of the Etropole trader and inn-keeper hadzhi Bencho and other traders in the town. Its iconostasis is very interesting as it represents tracery walnut tree wood-carving;

-     The church “Saint George” – It is the oldest church in Etropole. It has been looking this way ever since 1882. It was built by Bratsigovo masters on the grounds of old Medieval church that was demolished during the Kardzhali invasions. It is entirely constructed of river stone;

-     Small church “Saint Petka” – It is located near the Malki Iskar river. It is a small, single-nave, single-apse building of stone masonry;

-     Etropole monastery “Trinity” – It is located at 6 km off the town of Etropole. The date of building the old church “Trinity” is unknown. In 1682 an additional building was erected to it. The current church of the monastery was built in 1858 West of the foundations of the old temple. It was made by the master-constructors Ivan and Georgi from Bratsigovo. The church is spacious, three-nave, crest-like building with high central dome and four smaller domes above its angles. In 1860 the external decoration was finalized.

Municipality Botevgrad

From cultural-historical point of view, we could outline the following main sites:

-     Historical museum – It was opened in 1952. The exhibits consist of archaeological, ethnographic and general historical materials. Art gallery was created to the museum with a fund exceeding 12 thousand units;

-     The clock tower – symbol of the town and also present in its coats. The tower was built in the period 1862-64. Architect’s name was not preserved but the master is well-known – Vuno Markov. The original clock mechanism is kept in the museum and the modern one was made by masters in the Etara, as the parts for it were imported from abroad;

-     Monument of liberty – It was opened on the 29th of November 2009 in the centre of Botevgrad on the occasion of the 132nd anniversary of its liberation;

-     Vrachesh monastery “Saint forty martyrs” – It is located at 5 km along an asphalt road, West of the village of Vrachesh. It was built in 1891 by master Vuno Markov over the foundations of monastery dating back to the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Since 1937 it was turned into girls’ monastery. The greater part of the monastery was restored in 2007 and the garden is very beautiful. It stores the healing icon of Virgin Mary dating back to 17 century;

-     Monument bone-vault of Botev’s revolutionaries, village of Skravena – It keeps the skulls of ten of Botev’s revolutionaries from the group of Georgi Apostolov that were killed in the locality Rashov dol;

-     Skravena monastery “Saint Nicolas” – It is located at about 2 km North-East from the village of Skravena. It was founded during the Second Bulgarian State but it was demolished several times. It was built in its current appearance in 1946 over the old foundations. Nun Lyudmila has great contribution in building it since she devoted her life to the monastery and used to collect donations for its construction for long. After her death in 1986, the nun was buried under the venerable oak tree next to the church;

-     The stronghold Bozhenishki Urvich, village of Bozhenitsa – It is located at the mountain foot of Stara planina near Botevgrad, at some 3 km South of the village of Bozhenitsa. Stronghold’s heyday was in the 13-14 century. One could see partially restored stronghold wall, rock church, water cistern with depth of around 10 meters and rock inscription by sebast Ognyan that is related to the last days of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It has beautiful panoramic view facing the surrounding nature.;

Municipalities with forthcoming development as tourist destination.

We could outline the following more significant cultural sites:

-     Community centre “Rila” in the town of Dolna banya – The community centre was founded in 1898. The initial building was constructed in 1907 and its current appearance is since 1962. It is unique with its clock tower and stork nest at it;

-     The museum in the town of Dolna banya – It contains general historical and ethnographic museum exhibition via which every town visitor could get to know the lifestyle, domestic traditions and customs of the local population in the past, as well as exhibition of works by local authors;

-     The stronghold Trayanovi vrata – Stronghold’s ruins are located near the mountain pass that is named in the same way, in the municipality of Kostenets. The mountain pass was called this way after the Roman emperor Trajan with whom the stronghold that used to rise there was related. It was researched in 1975 during excavation works. The time of the initial stronghold construction is unknown, as the first written information about it date back to the 3rd century. The stronghold is also known as Shtipon;

-     Church “Saint martyr Georgi”, town of Kostenets – It was sanctified in 1932. It is impressive with its beautiful wood-carving of the altar and the bishop throne. There is a fountain and benches in the yard;

-     Church “Saint Archangel Michael”, village of Kostenets – Cultural monument. It is featured with three-nave dome basilica and is the largest in the Ihtiman church region. It has been there ever since 1854. The church has unique preserved wall-paintings and books that are older than a century. The temple holiday is held on the 8th of November;

-     Chapel “The Assumption”, village of Kostenets – It is situated in the locality “Gorna tsarkva”, at 2 km off the Kostenets waterfalls. The outlining of old Christian basilica dating back to the 5th century were discovered at that place. In 1997 the new chapel was constructed at the same time with bone-vault of the Bulgarians who died here. The chapel was sanctified in person by His Holiness Patriarch Maxim. Great temple holiday is held on the 15th of August. There are parking and catering opportunities;

-     Church “Saint John the Baptist”, village of Gorna Vasilitsa, Nova neighbourhood –The oldest church in the region that was built during the Bulgarian Revival. It is a big massive building constructed of stones and open wooden narthex. Parking opportunities;

-     Church “All Saints”, village of Ochusha – One of the oldest churches in municipality Kostenets. Icons dating back to the 19th century are maintained here;

-     Temple “Saint Panteleymon”, neighbourhood Momin prohod, town of Kostenets – Relatively new temple that is located near the main road. It is impressive with its beautiful wall-paintings and images of rarely depicted saints. There is a beautiful flower garden surrounding the church;

-     Historical museum, town of Ihtiman – It is located in the centre of the town, facing the building of the municipality. It was opened in the middle of the 20th century. You could visit there two exhibition halls. The first floor contains arranged ethnographic exhibition presenting beautiful, handmade traditional folklore costumes, as well as various Bulgarian embroideries, and magnificently crafted jewels. Various festive breads are also presented as they were designated for various holidays and rites. The second exhibition hall is devoted to the archaeological findings in the region;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Stolnik, municipality Elin Pelin – it was constructed in the end of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and dates back to the foundation of the very settlement;

-     Eleshnitsa monastery “Virgin Mary”, village of Eleshnitsa, municipality Elin Pelin – The monastery is located at 4 km off the village. It was founded in the end of the 15th century but in 1793 it was destroyed by Kardzhalii. It was built anew in 1820.  It has precious wall-paintings dating back to the 16th and 19th century thus it was proclaimed for cultural monument;

- remnants of the wall of Turkish caravan-serai, village of Novi han, municipality Elin Pelin –  In 1670 at the location of the current village great caravan-serai was built that used to be the station and inn along the “Royal road” leading to Tsarigrad. The remnants of the Ottoman caravan-serai or the way local people use to call it – “Kaleto”, are located in the yard of the primary school “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”.

-     House-museum of Elin Pelin, village of Baylovo, municipality Gorna Malina – It was opened in 1977. It also contains people’s community centre “Elin Pelin – 1922” that was founded on 10.12.1922 upon the initiative of Elin Pelin with rich library of over 13000 volumes of versatile literature. A museum exhibition is stored here that reflects the life and work of Elin Pelin;

-     The church “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, village of Baylovo, municipality Gorna Malina – It was built by master Gancho Trifonov from the village of Smolsko in 1884. It was proclaimed for cultural monument;

-     The church “Saint Dimitar”, village of Makotsevo, municipality Gorna Malina – It is a strong stone building of nave shape without domes. Its ceiling is with vaults. It was built from 1858 to 1860. The icons and the wood-carving of the Royal gates are of great art value. They were created by the prominent icon-painter from the village of Makotsevo, Ivan Nedelkyov, better known as Yoto the icon-painter. The wall-paintings of church’s vaults were made by David Zograf from the village of Mirkovo in 1861. An icon of Virgin Mary is depicted above the Western gate and above the Southern one – the icon of Saint Dimitar. Recently the church was fully restored thanks to the funding collected by the village inhabitants;

-     Church “Presentation of Mary”, village of Smolsko, municipality Mirkovo – It was built in 1859. Cultural monument;

-     Church “Saint martyr Dimitriy”, village of Mirkovo – It was built in 1834 and underwent capital repair works in 2004;

- Church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Chelopech – It was built in 1835;

- The clock tower in the town of Zlatitsa – It is the symbol of Zlatitsa. Its height is almost 17 meters and the clock that is ringing at every sharp hour is heard at a distance of 7-8 km. In view of its architecture it was built in 1777, as this year is inscribed on the belfry of the clock tower. According to the legend, the tower was constructed especially for a clock whose ringing was heard at 7-8 kilometres. Masters from Smolsko, Mirkovo and Zlatitsa built it and the materials were provided by the local Bulgarian and Turkish population. After the liberation from Ottoman ruling the clock mechanism was taken down and brought to an unknown place, and its roof construction and walls started falling apart. It was not earlier than 1922 when the tower was restored;

-     Zlatitsa monastery “Ascension Day” – It is located near a sweeping Karst spring in the South foot of the Zlatitsa-Teteven mountain of Middle Stara planina, in the northern suburbs of the town of Zlatitsa;

-     Elenska basilica “Saint Iliya”, municipality Pirdop – It is an early Christian temple located at around 5-6 km North-East off the town of Pirdop and at 3 km off the village of Anton, on the right bank of Elenska river. The temple dates back to the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 6th century and was devastated during the Ottoman ruling;

-     House-museum “Nikola Pushkarov”, town of Pirdop – The museum was opened in 1974. This is the birthplace of the prominent teacher, activist for Macedonia’s liberation and scientists in the field of soils Nikola Pushkarov (1874 - 1943). The building is typical for the architecture of the Bulgarian Revival times. It is a Balkan house that is typical for this region with spacious ground floor, four rooms at the second floor and a small veranda. It is located amid a small yard. The museum exhibition in it is located in two of the rooms and contains 15 boards with photos and facsimile of documents and scientific works referring to the life and activity of Nikola Pushkarov;

-     Town museum “Lukanovata house”, town of Pirdop – The house was built during the period of 1870-1872 for the family of the prominent Pirdop Bulgarian revival teacher, man of letters and trader Luka hadzhi Pavlov. In addition to being architectural monument, the building is also historical monument because immediately after town’s liberation from Ottoman ruling the first municipal government was founded in it. The historical museum collection in the house was opened on the 1st of June 1984;

-     Church “The Assumption”, town of Pirdop –  It was built in 1819. It was renewed in 1887 and fully restored in the period of 1997-2002. For church’s construction masters from Smolsko and Mirkovo were summoned, and in view of its architecture it follows the traditions of Arbanasi churches from the preceding 18th century. The temple is dug in the earth, with spacious naos (shrine), two rows of wooden columns, supporting the vaults. Its internal decoration was finalized later on, as the earliest icons date back to 1823 and were performed by the famous Tryavna icon-painter Yoanikiy papa Vitanov. The wood-carved iconostasis is unique and made by masters from the Debar school;

-     Razboishte rock monastery “The Presentation of Blessed Virgin”, municipality Godech – It is located near the river of Nishava, not far away from the village of Razboishte. No exact information about its occurrence was preserved but the monk community in this region enjoys a long history. As early as in the Middle Ages the rocky caves around the monastery were inhabited by monk-recluses. In the 18th – 19th century the very monastery occurred as its main church was inbuilt high in the rocks and remained outside the monastery complex. In the beginning of the 20th century the Razboishte monastery became deserted and it was not sooner than 1974 when three nuns settled in it. In 2007 the last of them died and the inhabitants of the nearby villages started taking care of the monastery and currently it even has a priest;

-     The church “St. St. Peter and Paul”, village of Berende, municipality Dragoman – According to some authors it was named only “Saint Peter”. It is a small, single-nave and single-apse medieval church. It is cuddled near the Nishava river, around the old graveyard of the village of Berende. It was proclaimed for cultural monument because of its wall-painting decoration dating back to the 14th century – one of the most significant for this period in Bulgaria;

-     The church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Kalotina, municipality Dragoman – It is located in the old graveyard of Divina neighbourhood of the bordering village of Kalotina. It is a Medieval church that was built during the ruling of tsar Ivan Aleksandar (1331-1371) with partially preserved wall-paintings;

-     Godech monastery “Holy Spirit”, municipality Godech – It is located west of the town. It was built over the old foundations dating back to 1945;

-     Monastery “Saint George”, village of Bukorovtsi, municipality Godech  – The monastery is located at 1,5 km North of the village of Bukorovtsi. An old settlement necropolis is located below the monastery and next to it during the archaeological excavations the remnants of old Medieval church were discovered. In the beginning of the 20th century a small single-nave, single-apse church was constructed as it is slightly dug into the earth. The construction of another four chapels adjoined to the old building was initiated next to it in 1991 – 1992;

-     The church “Saint John the Baptist”, village of Golesh, municipality Godech – It is located in the centre of the village. It dates back to the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It is a large, beautiful church with three domes;

-     The pantheon, village of Gurgulyat, municipality Slivnitsa – It is located at 12 km from the town of Slivnitsa, near the village of Gurgulyat. It was erected in the honour of the 100th anniversary of Bulgaria’s Unification and the Serbian-Bulgarian War, according to the project of architect Georgi Stoilov;

-     Church “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, town of Slivnitsa – The construction of the church was finalized in 1879 and this is the year in which the temple was sanctified. This is the oldest building in town and its construction was entirely performed of stone. The wall-painting was performed by Iliya Pefev and Grigor Dimitrov;

-     Monastery “Saint Petka”, town of Svoge – It is located in the North-eastern edge of the town. It was founded in the 10th century. After being demolished and burgled several times, it was restored in the 19th century. Nowadays the monastery complex has two temples – the old monastery church “Saint Petka” dating back to the 16th – 17th century and the new “St. St. Petar and Paul”, built in 1927. “Saint Petka” keeps valuable icons;

-     Iskrets monastery “The Assumption”, municipality Svoge – It is located in the village of Iskrets, at 10 km off the town of Svoge. The monastery was founded in the 13th century but there is information according to which it dates back to an earlier epoch. It was destroyed by the Turks in 14th century and in the 17th century it was restored as a chapel; since 1834 it has been a monastery. The church was painted with three layers of wall-paintings of exclusive art significance. In 1856 South of the church a seven-angled dome baptism – confessional was built that is also richly decorated. The additional building is unique for the Bulgarian monastery architecture;

-     Church “Saint Nicolas”, village of Iskrets, municipality Svoge – It is a single-nave basilica located in the centre of the village of Iskrets. It was supposedly built in 1110. There are three bells in the small yard. The oldest and biggest weighs 340 kilograms and it was donated by the village of Gorno Trodi, Macedonia, made in 1897;

-     Monastery “Seven thrones”, municipality Svoge – Its formal name is “Saint Virgin Mary”. It is located in proximity to the village of Osenov lag, in the beautiful valley of Gabrovnitsa river, under Izdremets peak in Stara planina. It dates back to the times of the Second Bulgarian state but was demolished by the Turks. The appearance of the current monastery was shaped up during its restoration in 1970. It unites under its roof six small chapels and basic altar that are devoted to various saints;

-     The church “Birth of Virgin Mary”, village of Milanovo, municipality Svoge – It is located at 3 km East of the village of Milanovo. It was built in the 17th century. Its current appearance presents a single-nave building of semi-circle apse from East whose walls were made of limestone and bigor blocks, glued with mortar. Fragments of wall-paintings dating back to the 17th century are preserved on the internal wall. In 2004 new church was built in the village of Milanovo – “Temple Birth of Virgin Mary”.

Main natural sites (natural tourist resources)

The territory of Sofia district includes parts of the National parks “Rila” and “Central Balkan”. Some of the main natural-tourist sites are mentioned below:

-     Musala peak (2925 meters above the sea level) – It is the highest peak in Bulgaria and on the Balkan peninsula. It is located above the village of Beli Iskar, and the most convenient starting point is through Borovets resort;

-     Malyovitsa peak (2729 meters above the sea level) – It is located above the village of Govedartsi, municipality Samokov. It is one of the most beautiful and loved peaks in Bulgaria. Ski resort is also developed there. The valley of Malyovitsa peak is the “cradle of alpinism in Bulgaria”. There are many tourist and climbing sites in the region. The following lakes are very interesting: Strashnoto, Elenino, Malyovishki lakes, Urdini lakes, the 7 Rila lakes etc.;

-     The peaks of the Stara planina ridge – The most prominent peaks in Sofia district are the following: Izdremets, Chukava, Murgash, Zvezdets, Etropolska Baba, Murgana, Svishti plaz, Tetevenska baba, Boluvanya, Bratanitsa, Vezhen etc.;

-     Bogdan peak (1604 meters above the sea level) – It is the highest peak of Sredna gora. The most convenient starting point is the town of Koprivshtitsa;

-     Vazov eco pathway, municipality Svoge – It was built between station Bov, neighbourhood Skaklya and the village of Zasele, near the Bovska Skaklya waterfall whose height is 80 meters;

-     Waterfall Dobravishka Skaklya, municipality Svoge – It is at a half-hour distance off the village of Dobravitsa and is of falling height equal to 20 meters;

-     Waterfall “Vrana voda”, municipality Etropole – It is a small but very beautiful waterfall located in the lands of the village of Yamna. The waterfall height is around 15 meters. The water stream falls down from a rock of Karst type. The small but permanent water level assisted in the formation of huge mushroom-like moss;

-     Waterfall “Varovitets”, municipality Etropole – It is located in proximity to the Etropole monastery. It is a natural phenomenon that is impressive with its majesty and beauty. Its leap is around 15 meters and the beauty is rarity. The wild and beautiful water gets down several terraces in the bed of Malki Iskar river. Its noise mixes with the bird songs and fills the fairytale forest land;

-     Waterfall “Kazanite”, municipality Chavdar – It is a multitude of 5 small waterfalls that form Eurasian caldrons;

-     Kostenski waterfall, municipality Kostenets – It is located along the flow of Stara (Kostenska) river at around 3 kilometres south of the village of Kostenets). The water fall is around 12 meters high.  The waterfall was proclaimed for natural site in 1974;

-     waterfall “Skalovitets”, municipality Kostenets – It is located in the foot of Rila mountain near the village of Kostenets. The height of its fall is around 20 meters. One could get easily to the waterfall for about 30 minutes along the pathway with numerous signs and benches for relax. The pathway starts from chalet “Gurgulitsa”;

-     Waterfall “Kotlite”, municipality Godech – It is located in proximity to the Bukurovo monastery and the village of Tuden. It is above the Drakul river that crosses high vertical rocks and forms 3 falls of the water with a total height of around 20 meters;

-     Climbing region “Bozhenitsa”, municipality Botevgrad – Under the village of Bozhenitsa, Bebresh river flows in a picturesque canyon that is an interesting climbing site;

-     Climbing region “Lakatnik”, municipality Svoge – It is located on the left bank of Iskar river, near railway station Lakatnik;

-     The locality Peklyuka, municipality Slivnitsa – It is located near the village of Gurgulyat, in Viskyar mountain. A rocky ridge rises among the grass-covered and rounded mountain ridges and is crossed by a small gorge in the middle;