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History of Pirdop and Zlatitsa

The territory of the todays towns of Pirdop and Zlatitsa was inhabited 6000 years ago. The ancient Roman road connecting Ulpia Trayana with Ulpia Serdika passed from here. This area was often visited by Alexander the Great, by the Byzantine emperors Isaac Komin and Isaac II Angel.

It is known that Zlatitsa in 4th century BC existed under the name of Ulpia Aurea and it is supposed that Emperor Trayan established the settlement in its todays location in the beginning of the 2nd century. The first written evidence is traced in the notorious Vergin Charter of King Konstantin Assen (1257-1277), where the settlement of Zlatitsa is mentioned. The Byzantine chronicler Dukas who visited Zlatitsa in 1445 informs about the pass (of Zlatitsa or Kashana) and the settlement. Near the town took place the notorious battle of Zlatitsa between the troops of the Hungarian King Vladislav III (Varnenchik), the Transilvanian Voivoda (leader) Yanush Huniyadi and the Serbian Prince Georgi Brankovich against the Turks.

Although the Bulgarians were a minority, in 1859 they built the Orthodox Church of St. Martyr Georgi and a school with the church. The convent with the church sheltered the Apostle Vassil Levski in 1872, who came to organise a revolutionary committee.

After the liberation of the town from Turkish rule on 3rd of January 1878, it was almost deserted by the fleeing Turks. Many Bulgarian newcomers arrived from Macedonia. Zlatitsa gradually declined because of the absence of markets for its handicraft goods, but later cattle breeding and agriculture developed and brought it up. It is interesting to know that together with Sofia, Turnovo and Plovdiv, Zlatitsa was nominated to become the capital of Bulgaria after the liberation.

The name of Pirdop is among those unknown names whose origin history keeps in secret. Numerous are the legends, trying to suggest an explanation, but not a single one, so far, has become completely convincing. The Thracian mounds and the remains of medieval fortresses unequivocally indicate that various tribes interrelated their destinies here for many centuries. The first written traces of Pirdop date back to 12th century, when the Pirdop Chronicle of Apostles Deeds was written - a valuable monument in writing, kept in the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library.

During the years of the Bulgarian Revival, the entrepreneurial citizens of Pirdop managed to turn their settlement into an economic and cultural centre. In 1698, the Protopopinski (Pirdopski) collection manuscript was written by the teacher Georgi, thus initiating the literary activity in the settlement and its vicinities. The same author wrote the Tihonravov Damaskin, kept in the State Library in Moscow. Originally an ecclesiastical school was founded and later, in 1820 - the first municipal school in spoken Bulgarian with the teacher Todor Pirdopski.

The local folkstyle abi (homespun coarse woollen cloth and upper mens garment made of it), shayatzi (woollen cloth), braids, woollen bed covers and blankets, candles and soap were highly valued at the markets in Vienna, Budapest, Tsarigrad, Thessaloniki, Alexandria. Only from the manufacturing of woollen braids by the 700 water-driven looms the town earned an annual income of over 9 000 000 Turkish grosh! The destiny of Pirdop after the Liberation is the same as it was of Zlatitsa - loss of markets, decline and strive for survival against a background of overall national boom.

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