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History of Gabrovo

Gabrovo originated during the Middle Ages as a strategic settlement in the proximity of the Balkan Mountain passes. According to the legend Racho Kovacha (Racho the Blacksmith) established the settlement, but there is no explicit evidence in support of this statement.

At the end of the 12th century due to the proximity of the town to the capital of the Bulgarian state Turnovo, the handcrafts and trade developed here as well as crafts related to the maintenance and guard of the passes through the Balkan mountain - blacksmiths, armour and weapon smiths, etc.

The first known name of the settlement dates back to 1430 (already under the Ottoman Rule) - Gabruva, and todays name - Gabrovo appeared as late as the 17th century. The name comes from the horn-beam tree (Carpinus betulus, in Bulgarian gaber). During the years of Ottoman Rule Gabrovo was a big craftsmanship and trade centre. During the 19th century 26 crafts were practiced here - blacksmiths (horseshoes), knives and cutlery, pottery, manufacture of braids, leather processing and tailoring, silkworm breeding and a lot of others. The first manufacturing enterprise Ivan K. Kalpazanov opened in 1860  a textile factory. In the same year Gabrovo was proclaimed a town. Felix Kanits said about it that during the 70-es of the 19th century Gabrovo is a big workshop and that it is a town living on water, having in mind the widely used waterpower. The good quality of the Gabrovo made articles was known all over the Ottoman Empire and even beyond it. There is a street in Bucharest now still named Gabroveni.

The quick economic growth and the national revival were the reason for the opening of the first Bulgarian secular school called after the name of its founder - Vassil Aprilov as early as in 1835. In 1872 it grew into a secondary school and in 1889 it was called Aprilovs High School, functioning up to date. Beautiful Revival houses, churches, bridges, drinking-fountains, a clock tower (1835) were built then. The inhabitants of the town took an active part in the Uprising of Captain Dyado (Grandfather) Nikola in 1856, in the Turnovo Uprising of 1862, in the detachments of armed volunteers of Hadzhi Dimitur and Stefan Karadzha (1868), of Hristo Botev (1876), of Tsanko Dyustabanov (1876 - completely formed in Gabrovo). In 1868 Levski set up a revolutionary committee here. The town is the birthplace of Vassil Aprilov, Tsanko Dyustabanov, Pop (Priest) Hariton, the composer Emanuil Manolov and a lot of others.

Gabrovo continued to develop as the biggest textile centre of Bulgaria after the Liberation and it was not by accident that it was nicknamed the Bulgarian Manchester. The town has been famous for the stinginess and sharp-wittedness of its inhabitants from time immemorial due to which the unique in the world House of Humour and Satire is located here. 

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