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Centralsouth Bulgaria > Kalofer > History

History of Kalofer

Its name can not be found in the ancient or the medieval history of our lands. On this place there were once thick, impassable and desolate woods. To the west, in the valley of Byala Reka River (White River), was the old town Zvanigrad, from which there is not a trace left today. Due to the strong resistance, the Turks wiped out the town, but the proud and sturdy defenders remained unconquered. A group of 40 heroes, led by Kalifer Voivoda (voivoda meaning leader of a group of armed revolutionaries), roamed for long throughout the area, defending their fellow Bulgarians and arousing terror in the Ottomans. The Turks were powerless to deal with the detachment and so the Sultan gave the voivoda permission to settle in the woods along with his men, giving them privileges to establish a settlement with the statute of derventdzhii (special guards of the roads and passes in the mountains, appointed by the Turks). The haidouti (armed revolutionaries, volunteers, members of a detachment) kidnapped maids from Sopot, which was famous for its beauties, and that is how the town of Kalofer originated.

It is not by chance that the history of the town during the long Turkish yoke is full of names of famous revolutionaries, haidouts and rebels - from Kalifer Voivoda, Old Man Mlachko, Chono Chorbadzhi, Dobri Voivoda and Gulub Voivoda to the great poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev. Twice the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) ruined the town - in 1799 and 1804, but it quickly recovered and grew wealthy. During the first half of the 19th century Kalofer, like all our towns south of the Balkan Range, reached its zenith. Travellers notice that in it there are more than 1000 loom sites for woollen braids, a lot of mills for processing wool and dye-houses. The craftsmen and merchants of Kalofer traded with Constantinople, Vienna, Odessa, Braila. They did not call the town Altun Kalofer (Golden Kalofer) for nothing. In 1845 a big new school was built, and in 1871 a school for girls was built, too. All kinds of educational societies were formed. A lot of renowned writers and public figures are natives of Kalofer - Ekzarh Yossif I, Dimitur Mutev, Elena Muteva (the first Bulgarian poetess), Hristo Tupchileshtov, Ivan Shopov (a student of folklore and the first Bulgarian bibliographer) and others. Many people of Kalofer enrolled in the detachments of Panayot Hitov, Phillip Totyo, Hadgi Dimitur and Stefan Karadzha, Bacho Kiro. At the end of the Turkish rule there were as much as 15 haidout detachments roaming in Kalofers vicinity. Over 500 natives of Kalofer were members of haidout detachments and groups. During the War of Liberation (1877 - 1878) Kalofer shared Karlovo and Sopots fate - it was plundered and set on fire by the bashibozouks. Almost nothing is left of the pre-liberation Kalofer. 

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