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History of Turgovishte

The earliest vestiges of human life in the area date back to the copper-stone era (halcolite) of the 5th-4th millennium before Christ (near the village of Ovcharovo). In the vicinity of the town there have been recovered remains of settlements and necropolises from the ancient times (the gold treasure from Kralevo). The name of the present town was first mentioned in 16th century as Eski Dzhoumaya (eski - old, dzhoumaya - Friday; on that same day markets were organised in the Turkish settlements, so in this particular case it is rather a market place or if translated - Old market). It was first registered as such in a Turkish register of 1573, and in the following 17th century the traveller Hadzhi Kalfa gave it a short description. At first it was entirely an Oriental town. In the course of years a lot of Bulgarians settled to live there. The crafts underwent a brisk development together with the trade therewith. The well-known Eski Dzhoumaya Fair started at the end of 18th century became the largest in the Danube district and one of the biggest and most representing in the Ottoman Empire. It used to commence on 14th May and last for 8 days. Traders came from the whole of the Ottoman Empire, from Russia and from the west European countries - Germany, Austria, and England - they offered industrial goods. Lots of cattle were sold at the fair, but most of all horses, so it was called Haivan or Kamshik Panair (Whip Fair). It always started with big horse races (koushii). At the beginning it was held in the central parts of the town but in 1865 - 1868 it was moved to a special place outside the town with elementary conveniences like inn, stables, cattle-sheds, eating-houses, bakery, wells, court place where problems and thefts were settled, etc. - prototype of nowadays market places. It was held till the end of 19th century. The material prosperity lead to cultural progress of the settlement. The small school was now transformed into a secular school in 1846 and in 1863 the construction of its new building of European style was completed (it was the most prominent building in Eski Dzhoumaya), this was where Pencho Slaveikov worked as a teacher for some time. In the winter of 1872 Angel Kanchev set up a revolutionary committee. The leaders of the Bulgarian National Revival, Sava Gerenov and Sava Katrafilov, spread the seeds of progress and national consciousness. The latter together with Nikola Simov-Kourouto (the colour-bearer of Botev detachment of armed volunteers) were members of Botevs detachment. Both of them died a heroic death in the battles against the Ottomans.

During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878) the inhabitants of the town showed great courage in defending the Bulgarian quarters from the Circassians and Bashi-bozouks. The town was liberated in January 1878.

In 1934 the town was renamed Turgovishte. It is more and more developing as a tourist centre. The traditional fair in Turgovishte known as the Spring Fair and Industrial Goods Expo was resumed.

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