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Centralnorth Bulgaria > Svishtov > History

History of Svishtov

The town is a successor of the Roman (and later on of the Early Byzantine) town of Nove (1st century) - an important strategic centre with naval functions. During the Middle Ages it was called Stuklen, and in the map of Fra Mauro of 1459 it was marked under the name of Sistovo, which is the transcription of todays name of the town. Svishtov comes from svesht (candle). During the first centuries of the Ottoman Rule there were several huts here, which lit up with fires along the river banks the way of boats and sailing-vessels during the night-time. Gradually the future town of Svishtov was formed around them.

The town reached an enviable development during the 19th century in spite of its complete destruction during the Russian-Turkish War of 1810. In 1865 Dr. Ivan Bogorov described Svishtov as the most commercial place of our towns. In 1869 there were 957 stores and 720 warehouses there. The first high school of commerce in Bulgaria was established in Svishtov (1873). The well-known traveller of 19th century Felix Kanits wrote: Svishtov has been enjoying the reputation of an European town with an European market for a long time. Within the time period from 1850 to 1860 in the port of Svishtov there were about 150 vessels sailing along the Danube with water displacement of 120 000 tons, a part of which belonged to Svishtov merchants. In 1867 the Danubian Steam Society was established with the merchant from Svishtov Nikola Stanchov as the chief shareholder. The Society purchased the Austrian-Hungarian ship  Commencement and three tank barges for transportation of cereals. The tangible welfare of the town was reflected in its cultural life as well. In 1841 Hristaki Pavlovich established a new Bulgarian school and a secular school for girls. One of the first in Bulgaria chitalishta (reading-clubs) with a museum with it was set up here in 1856. In 1884 the first in Bulgaria Commercial High School opened its gates (todays High School of Economy). The outstanding Revival public figures Nikolai Pavlovich,  Emanuil Vaskidovich, Hristaki Pavlovich and a lot of other eminent functionaries worked here as well. Schools, churches, beautiful houses were built in thse years.

On 26th and 27th June the key forces of the Russian Army disembarked on the bank of the Danube River in the locality of Tekirdere (at the distance of 4 km east of Svishtov) and the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation began. Although the Turks did not anticipate the crossing of the Danube River by the main Russian units to take place namely here, they put up ferocious resistance and it was in the first battle for Bulgarian freedom that 814 Russian soldiers and officers found their death.

The town lost its initial first-grade significance after the Liberation, but it remained an important economic, cultural centre and grew as a tourist centre as well. Since 1936 Svishtov has been an academic town, too in relation to the opening of the Higher Institute of Finance and Economics Dimitur Tsenov (in the name of an outstanding Bulgarian patron).

Svishtov is the birthplace of Dragan Tsankov, Grigor Nachevich, Nikolai Pavlovich, Dimitur Tsenov, Alexander Bozhinov, Tsvetan Radoslavov (author of the song, on the basis of which Mila Rodino (Dear Motherland) - Bulgarian national anthem was composed) and of the great Bulgarian writer - humorist, democrat and creator of the organized hiking movement in our country - Aleko Konstantinov. 

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