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History of Lovech

The town is a descendant of the Thracian by-the-road town of Melta (in todays area of Hissarluka) which had a strategic location along the Danube-Aegean Sea main road. During the Medieval times the town remained an important military strategic centre and it was called Lovuts (a town of hunters) by the 11th century. During the 12th century it was moved to the right bank of the Osum River where the quarter of Varosha is situated now. After the Turnovo Uprising the Lovech Fortress firmly defended the approaches to Turnovo and after a 3-month siege the Byzantine Empire was forced to conclude the well-known Lovech Peace Treaty (1187), stipulating a new beginning for the Bulgarian state. Since the end of the Byzantine domination the town has been known by its todays name - Lovech.

During the 13th and particularly during the 14th century it was one of the biggest towns and fortresses in Northern Bulgaria and it reached an enviable economic prosperity. The town fell under Ottoman Rule in 1393. The last semi-independent ruler of the Lovech Fortress - Stanko Kussam, became a haidoutin (rebel) after its downfall. In the first centuries of Ottoman Rule the town declined and it was not until the 18th and particularly during the 19th century that it became well off, thanks to crafts and trade. It was called Altun Lovech (Golden Lovech). In 1870 the town had 11 thousand inhabitants. As early as in 1839 the struggle for an independent Bulgarian church began here. The first schools were opened in 1846-1847 and one of the first teachers here was the peoples poet and writer Petko R. Slaveikov. In 1870 a chitalishte (community cultural centre and reading-room) was established here and two years later the first theatrical performance was held under the guidance of Angel Kunchev.

There was an old covered wooden bridge over the Osum River but the river carried it away in 1872. Only 2 years after that the self-studied master of genius craftsman master usta Kolyu Ficheto built up his famous covered bridge with 24 small workshops in it. Unfortunately it was burned to ashes by a fire in 1925. The present (unique in the country) covered bridge was built up on the analogy of it. During the years of the national liberation movement (the second half of the 19th century) Lovech turned into the revolutionary capital of Bulgaria. In 1869 Vassil Levski laid the foundations of the local revolutionary committee and in the following year he pointed Lovech as a centre of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation. It was from here on that the fibres entwining all the country started and they rose the Bulgarian people in battle for national independence. On 17th July 1877 Lovech was liberated by the squadron of Col. Zherebkov and Col. Parensov but 10 days later the Turks conquered it again and slaughtered over 2500 Bulgarians in the town and in its surroundings. The town was finally liberated on 3rd September 1877 by the units of Gen. Imeretinski, Gen. Skobelev and Gen. Dobrovolski. Its freedom was won at the price of 1683 Russian victims.

After the Liberation Lovech loses the markets in the Ottoman Empire. The construction of the railway line Levski - Lovech (1932) and its extension to Troyan (1948) gave an impetus in the development of the town. For the last few years the town has established itself as a big cultural and tourist centre.

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