||Centralnorth Bulgaria > Gorna Oryahovitsa > History
History of Gorna OryahovitsaThe first information about life in a settlement dates back to the second half of the 5th millennium BC (Middle Neolithic Age) and is related to the ruins in the area called Blatoto (the Swamp) (located in the town within the region of the high school). The rectangular houses were made of hedge and clay. There are traces of the earliest Thracian settlement in the area of Pchelno Myasto (Bees Place) at the distance of about 2 or 3 km east of the town, between the Kamuka Hill (the Stone) and the Arbanassi Hill. Its inhabitants were from the tribe of krobizi. The settlement was of significant dimensions (with an area of over 100decares). The Kamuka Fortress was erected to provide security for the people. It existed from the 5th century BC to the 1st century BC, when the Romans built up their own fortified settlement over its ruins. It gradually acquired economic power mainly through cultivating grapes and producing wine. During the 2nd and the 3rd centuries the Roman Province Lower Moesia was the only province enjoying protection on the part of the central authority for cultivating grapes and for the production of premium quality wine. The life of that settlement continued up to the coming of the Slavs (6th - 7th centuries). There is no substantiated evidence of a settlement life during the period 7th-12th centuries.
After the restoration of Bulgarian State at the end of the 12th century a need arose of protection of the new Metropolis Turnovgrad. Several sentry fortresses were built up, among which Rahovets, too (at the distance of 4km north-west of todays town). This happened between 1187 and 1190, when the task of the new fortress was to protect the road from Cherven (the region of Rousse) to Turnovgrad. The name originated from the Persian rah - road, motorway. Todays name of the town originated from there in the course of time. During the Ottoman invasion the fortress was conquered by the Turks after the water pipeline to it was discontinued (without destroying the fortress). Rahovets existed up to the year 1444 when Vladislav III Varnenchik destroyed it. Three individual small villages existed during the first centuries of the Ottoman Rule there - Mala (Little), Sredna (Middle) and Golyama (Greater) Rahovitsa.
Gorna Oryahovitsa gradually (with certain rights granted by the Sultan in 1538) turned into an economically powerful settlement, particularly during the Revival Period. Crafts prospered and trade was among the most active in Northern Bulgaria. Every Friday there was a big market of cattle, agricultural production, timber, and charcoal. As early as in 1822 a monastery school was opened here and in 1827 - the private school of Father Gerassim Stoikov (it became public school in 1835), in 1850 the first girls school opened its gates and in 1859the first intermediate high school was founded by Ivan Momchilov. The chitalishte (the reading room and community centre) was opened in 1869. In 1870Gorna Oryahovitsa was proclaimed a town. It numbered 4700 inhabitants at that time, there were 1200 houses and 5 churches.
The population of the town took part in almost all actions in the region being part of the struggle for national liberation. Vassil Levski organised a revolutionary committe here during the first half of 1869 and after that visited the town twice more. During the preparation of the April Uprising Gorna Oryahovitsa was designated as centre of the First Revolutionary District with Stefan Stambolov as Chief Apostle but Ivan Semerdzhiev, Georgi Izmirliev and the Gruncharov Brothers worked most actively in the town. After a series of treacheries the large-scale uprising failed. There was only one battle between a handful of rebels and the Turkish hordes with tragic consequences. On 28th May 1876 Ivan Semerdzhiev (together with Bacho Kiro and others) was hanged in Turnovo, Georgi Izmirliev was hanged on the gallows on the same day in the centre of Gorna Oryahovitsa with the words: Its a good thing to give your life for the freedom of your Mother country!. Sider Gruncharov (Sider Voivoda) died at the head of a detachment of armed volunteers under the Mt. Mourgash. Mortal danger threatened Gorna Oryahovitsa, but the courageous chairwoman of the womens society Elena Gruncharova gathered women, children and old people and set off for Turnovo where by entreaties they obtained patronage by Reuf Pasha who sent regular army and protected the town from Circassians and brigands. Three citizens of Gorna Oryahovitsa fought in Botevs detachment of armed volunteers and 132 people joined the Bulgarian volunteer forces during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. The Russian Army liberated Gorna Oryahovitsa from the Ottoman Rule on 26th June 1877. Major Emiliyan Senkevich (brother of the Polish writer Henrich Senkevich) was amongst the liberators who married a woman from Gorna Oryahovitsa.
After the Liberation the town developed as a big transport (predominantly railway) centre as it is nowadays. Its proximity with the Old Metropolis town of Veliko Turnovo, with Arbanassi, with the magnificent monasteries around and with a great number of other sites of interest makes it a tourist centre as well.