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History of Oryahovo

At the highest point on the Bulgarian shore of the Danube (226 m) existed as a settlement as far back as the Bronze Age. The Thracians have also left significant traces here. The ruins tell us about the town of Vateria and the Variana Fortress from the Roman time when the old Roman road to Constantinople passed through these lands. In the Middle Ages, in 9-10th century a Bulgarian town with a fortress emerged, which was a border post to stop the advance of the Avars, Franks and Magyars. For first time the name of the town was mentioned in 1226 when the Magyar army passed through the Bulgarian settlement Orechov. It was many times destroyed to the grounds and rebuilt. In 1388 the settlement was conquered by the Turks, and in 1396 it suffered because of the battles between the Turks and the crusaders of the Hungarian Knyaz Sigizmund of Luxembourg during the advance of the Christian army in the direction of Nikopol. In 1444 the Polish-Hungarian Knyaz Vladisslav Yagelo (Varnenchik) succeeded in liberating it for a short time. Later, when the first Turnovo Uprising took place (1598) the Wallachian voivoda Michai Vityazul with his army fought here.

In the Middle Ages the town was also called Vrhov, Orezov, Oreev, and in a Hungarian document it is reported as Oreshik. From the beginning of 18th century until 1888 its name was Rahovo, then Orehovo and finally todays Oryahovo. With the development of shipping along the Danube River in the end of 18th and 19th century, Oryahovo became rich. Despite the large number of Turks in the town, it kept alive the Bulgarian spirit. The Bulgarian population took an active part in the struggle for church and national independence.

In 1857 a class school was opened, later a girls school and a community centre. The local revolutionary committee founded in 1872 served the secret channel between Oryahovo and Becket for transporting weapons and revolutionary activists. Vassil Levski visited the town twice. In the winter of 1876 Oryahovo gave shelter to the apostles Panaiot Volov and Georgi Benkovski on their way to Panagyurishte revolutionary district. Stoian Zaimov, Ivanitsa Danchev, Nikola Obretenov, Nikola Slavkov had stayed in the town, as well. The people from Oryahovo took part in the struggle of Bulgarian volunteers during the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878). The town was liberated on 20 November 1877 after three days of heavy fighting.

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