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History of Kotel

At the beginning of the Ottoman Rule Kotel was inhabited by Bulgarians from the adjacent towns and villages in search of rescue. A Turkish register of 1486 contains the earliest information about the town. During the first centuries of the foreign domination it was inhabited by the so-called derventdgii (special Bulgarian guards of the mountain passes and roads) and dzhelepi (traders of cattle, sheep in particular). The already mentioned obligations of Kotel towards the central authority compensated for a relative independence - municipal self government, independently elected local governor, exemption of some taxation, prohibition of Turkish settling there. All these, as well as the economic growth in 18th - 19th centuries, the commercial contracts, the passionate Orthodox belief of the inhabitants of Kotel (many used to travel to Jerusalem and Sveta Gora) contributed to the transformation of the town into a lively centre of Bulgarian culture and education,  of the struggle for church independence and national freedom. Kotel is the native place of Captain Georgi Mamarchev (officer in the Russian Army), Georgi Sava Rakovski (one of the main ideologists of the movement for national liberation), the Revival men of letters Neophyte Bozvelli, Dr. Peter Beron (the composer of the famous Riben Boukvar textbook), Sofronii Vrachanski (the most outstanding representative of the literary school of Kotel who copied Istoria Slavyanobolgarska (Slavonic and Bulgarian History) brought by Paisiy Hilendarski himself in 1764), Stefan Izvorski, Ivan Kishelski, Vassil Beron, the socially active men Gavril Krustevich, Aleko Bogoridi, Stefan Bogoridi, etc.

In 1812 the first Bulgarian elite secular school was opened here. The town is a native place of a number of voivodi (leaders of revolutionaries - haidouts), haidouts, revolutionaries, volunteers, members of in Hadzhi Dimiturs, Panayot Volovs, Hristo Botevs detachments. Vassil Levski set up a revolutionary committee in Kotel. The town suffered hard times during the kurdzhalii (Turkish brigands) raids. Indzhe attempted to attack and rob the town but its inhabitants erected a three-metre high wall and drove back the brigands. Nevertheless, in 1848 and 1863 Kotel was put on fire. During the Russian- Turkish War of Liberation battles were held in the immediate vicinity of the town. The town itself accommodated the volunteer detachments, the volunteers headquarters with general Stoletov, as well as the Hussar regiment from Narvsk with A. Poushkin at the head, who was son of A. S. Poushkin, the genius Russian poet. After the liberation in 1894 Kotel suffered the most devastating fire in its history when the bigger part of the town was ruined down. Only the quarter called Galata survived and today it renders an approximate idea of what the old town looked like.

The craft of carpet weaving is very typical for the town and the region, which makes Kotel the oldest centre of artistic fabrics in the country and abroad, having a unique weaving school. The town has preserved precious relics of the past - sarcophagus with Georgi Sava Rakovskis skeleton in it, Dr. Peter Berons heart, manuscripts of Levski and Sofronii Vrachanski. Its rich history, Revival architecture and marvellous vicinity make this picturesque Balkan town a desired place for national and international tourism.

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