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History of Assenovgrad

This fact is explained by its favourable geographic location - the attractive combination of the mountain and the valley, its mild climate, fertile soil and the fact that here is the entrance of the most convenient passage through the Rhodope Mountains connecting Thrace with the Aegean Region. There was an ancient (Thracian) settlement on the territory of this town, and later on a medieval village was founded there. Within its surroundings more than 100 Thracian mounds with a lot of objects were found. The town played its significant role in the medieval period as a strongly fortified site, which witnessed severe battles. The town is first mentioned under the name of Stanimahos in the statute (1083) of the Bachkovo Monastery, whose founder, the Byzantine military commander of Georgian origin Grigorii Bakuriani, had conquered the town shortly before that. Later on the chronicles of the successive crusades within the period 1096 - 1204 gave it the names of Stanimako, Estanimak, Skribentsion.  Under the name of Stanimaka (from the word of Greek origin stenimahos meaning fortified narrow place) the town left its deep traces in history. In 1230 Tsar Ivan Assen II fortified and expanded the strong Stanimakas Fortress, called Petrich, which act was celebrated by putting an inscription, carved above its entrance. This is the reason for the fortress to be renamed to Assenova Krepost (Fortress), and the town of Stanimaka, located below it - to be renamed to Assenovgrad in 1934. Later on the town was either Bulgarian or within the Byzantine Empire. In 1364 the town was conquered by Tsar Ivan Alexander and remained within Bulgarian territories until his death when it was regained by the Turks. During the long Turkish Rule Stanimaka had lost its significance and gradually declined. The town was plundered and put on fire by the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) three times. Its inhabitants made their living mainly by growing vineyards (production of Mavrud type of wines) and silkworm breeding (production of silk). After the Liberation, this was a small agricultural town, which remained within the borders of Eastern Roumelia as long as 1885. At the end of 19th century the phylloxera spoiled the vineyards and mass tobbacco planting and growing commenced thereon. The glory of Assenovgrad as a sacral centre, formed during the eneolite and existing as such until now, explains the presence of so many cult-related buildings in the town and its surroundings - 5 monasteries, 12 churches and more than 50 chapels.

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