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History of Malko Turnovo

A Thracian settlement existed on the spot of the present day town; only mound necropolis have remained. According to the Shkorpil brothers that is where a Roman roadside station called Outsourgas had been located. The present town of Malko Turnovo was founded by the end of 16th century and the beginning of 17th century, most probably by settlers that had moved from the adjacent huts and smaller villages to settle by the Golemiya Vris Spring where people still drink its nice water. The name of the settlement derives from the profusion of prickly thistles all over the place. Initially Trunovo changed into Turnovo and later the word Malko (small) was added to distinguish it from the name of the Old Bulgarian capital Turnovo.

G. Ensholm was the first to give information about the town. He participated in Dibich Zabalkanskis march at the time of the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829. In his book Notes on the Towns beyond the Balkan Mountain he claimed that the town had 3 500 inhabitants who earned their living primarily with sheep-breeding, and all the crafts related to it aba manufacturing (coarse homespun woollen cloth and upper mens garment made of it), tailoring, leather-processing and manufacturing, wool spinning and weaving, cattle trade, as well as masonry and pottery. There were excellent goldsmiths and money-changers. People mined marble, part of which was used for the construction and decoration of the Dolma Bahche Palace in Istanbul. Trade was well developed in many workshops. In the second half of 19th century Malko Turnovo was a nice and rich town with a population of nearly 8 000 inhabitants - Bulgarians. They passionately preserved the Bulgarian spirit, customs and traditions. The first monastery school was opened at the beginning of last century. A secular school was set up in the 40s of 19th century, and about 1875 - a school for young girls. In 1902 the town had a performance hall. According to the Berlin Treaty signed after the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878) Malko Turnovo was left within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. At the time of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising (1903) the district revolutionary committee was lodged in the town; the outstanding leaders were Stefan Dobrev, Raiko Petrov, Lefter Mechev, Diko Dzhelepov, etc. After the severe defeat of the uprising around 5 000 inhabitants of Malko Turnovo had to leave their native place. The town was liberated from the foreign rule in 1912.

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