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History of Teteven

The region has been inhabited since the remote past. The tribe of the Serds lived in these places at Thracian times due to which the Romans later on included the region in the Serdica strategy. Saint Iliya Monastery dates back to Medieval Bulgaria. The oldest information about the settlement in writing is contained in a document of 1421. The name mentioned there was Tetevyan. An artistically elaborated cross, a gift from Tsar Ivan Shishman, was preserved in Saint Iliya Monastery up to the year 1930 (at the moment it is in the London Museum). Evidently the Monastery existed during the 13th - 14th centuries and probably the settlement developed around it. During the Ottoman Rule, the inhabitants of Teteven were voinutsi, i. e. they were assigned some military and guard duties against which they obtained certain rights and independence. Teteven developed as a prospering handicraft settlement. During the 16th and the 17th centuries the Turks carried out forcible conversion to Islam within the region but they did not dare touch the town. The popular haidouts (armed revolutionaries grouped in detachments) were Kostin, Deli Palo, Dancho, Anguel, and Niagol. In 1800 there were about 3000 houses in the town of Teteven. The town merchants traded with Sofia, Bucharest, Brashov, Vienna, Thessaloniki, and Anadola. Over 60 of its inhabitants were Hadzhii (they had gone to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem). In 1801 the town was completely devastated by kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands). Half of the inhabitants was slaughtered, the survivals left Teteven. Of the 3 thousand buildings only four survived... Although the settlement rehabilitated with the elapse of years, it never reached its previous heyday and welfare. The inhabitants of Teteven kept abreast with the cultural and political upsurge during the Bulgarian Revival. Churches and schools were built and bulgarian spirit was kept and strengthened. In 1872 Vassil Levski organised the most numerous revolutionary committees in the Bulgarian lands (51 people) with a chairman and a cashier  both of them outstanding and influential wealthy men Stanio Vrabevski and Petko Miliov - Strashniya (the Terrible). Dimitur Obshti (a close associate of Levski) worked in the town, too under whose guidance the robbery of the Turkish postal service in the Arabakonak Pass was carried out on 22nd September 1872. This act, kept in secret from Levski, unfortunately led to tragic consequences for the whole revolutionary organisation and for V. Levski in person  all revolutionary committees founded by Levski during the years were now broken and the Apostle was caught and hung on 18th February 1873 in Sofia.

The final drama of the April Uprising took place at the distance of 15 km to the south-east of the town. Georgi Benkovski (the factual leader of the peoples riot), Zakhari Stoyanov (who left for Bulgarian people the priceless Notes on Bulgarian Uprisings), Father Kiril (the cashier of the 4th Revolutionary District) and Stefo the Dalmatian fell victims to a repulsive betrayal. They were caught in a Turkish ambush in the locality of Kostina in which Benkovski and Father Kiril were murdered and Z. Stoyanov and S. the Dalmatian survived by a miracle after incredible narrow escapes. Teteven inhabitants slaughtered the traitor on the day when he was to receive his recompense.

11 members of Botevs detachment of armed volunteers, 4 members of Panaiot Hitovs detachment as of 1876 and 48 volunteers in the Russo-Turkish War were born in Teteven. The liberation of the town is related to the name of the inhabitant of Teteven Banio Marinov, who guided the squadron of Colonel Orlov through the Vassiliovska Mountain. The Turks were taken by surprise and rendered harmless. Later on the same inhabitant of Teteven participated in the liberation of the town of Orhanie (Botevgrad), too and became its first town governor. Banio Marinov organised a detachment of volunteers and took part in the Kresna Uprising in Macedonia where he was wounded. He died of his wound in Sofia Hospital. Sava Mladenov (one of the close assistants of Hr. Botev in the last tragic days of the poet and revolutionary and his detachment of armed volunteers) was born in Teteven, too. He found his death at the distance of 8 km to the south of the town.

After the Liberation Teteven developed as a centre of tourism.

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