The town is 46 km. away from Veliko Tarnovo and 220 km. from the capital.
The most widespread legend says that Gabrovo was founded by a blacksmith named Racho who settled his workshop under a hornbeam tree (in Bulgarian”gabar” and from there-the name of the town-Gabrovo).
According to the archaeological researches there had existed a settlement on the territory of today’s Gabrovo since the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
In 12th 14th century - the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire when Veliko Tarnovo was the capital - Gabrovo became a developing crafts and trade center due to the proximity of the town both to the capital and the Balkan passes.
After the Ottoman invasion in 14th century Gabrovo changed significantly - many Bulgarians fleeing from the conquered capital settled in Gabrovo and from a village it turned into a small town; during the Ottoman rule Gabrovo developed as an important economic center - crafts and trade flourished, many churches, bridges, beautiful houses with the typical architecture of the Revival period were built; rich tradesmen supported the town’s development; in 1835 with the financial help of Vasil Aprilov (a prominent public figure from the Revival period) in Gabrovo was founded the first Bulgarian secular school;
Today Gabrovo is a nice and peaceful place to live in; it is interesting with its Bulgarian National Revival architecture and due to the unique sense of humour of its citizens it is known as the capital of humour and satire.
Places of interest in Gabrovo:
The House of Humour and Satire - combines features of a museum and an art gallery; it is a cultural association for humour and satirical art and represents the traditions of the local humour art in cartoons, photographs, paintings, sculptures, verbal humour; with its expositions, plenty of attractions and the rich collections of satirical art from around the world, The House of Humour and Satire is interesting both for adults and children;
Aprilov High school - the first secular school in Bulgaria named after its benefactor Vasil Aprilov; the school is still considered one of the most prestigious high schools in the country; the building of the school is declared a cultural monument; the National Museum of Education is located in the school; the museum represents the development of Bulgarian education since 19th century;
The Museum of History
The clock tower - built in 1835
The monument of Racho Kovacha - located on an island in Yantra river; according to the legend Gabrovo was founded by a young blacksmith named Racho;
Dechkovata kashta - a house-museum very interesting with the exposition”Urban culture and lifestyle from the end of 19th century”. The house is 160 old with the typical architecture of the Bulgarian Revival period; visitors can take retro pictures dressed in old-fashioned clothes;
Places to visit around Gabrovo:
Architectural-ethnographic complex Etara - situated 8 km. away from Gabrovo; it is an open-air museum, representing the architecture, the way of life and the economy of Gabrovo and the region during the Bulgarian National Revival; constructed as a typical mountain settlement, Etara features cobbled streets with workshops, bridges, a clock tower, a water mill and the typical two-storey houses with plenty of small windows; all the workshops are functioning and the visitors can see the works of skillful craftsmen using original instruments and following old traditions; about 20 different crafts are represented; tourists can also enjoy the taste of freshly baked bread made by old recipes.
Bojentsi - a small village situated just 15 km. east of Gabrovo; a favourite tourist destination in the area, Bojentsi is famous with its well-preserved Bulgarian National Revival architecture; in 1964 Bojentsi was proclaimed an architectural and historical reserve and is a part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage. For this reason, there is a ban on the construction of any buildings that do not match with the architectural style of the village;
Sokolski monastery - situated 15 km. south of Gabrovo; the monastery was founded in 1833 and initially a small wooden church was built; the monastery played a significant historic role in the years of the National Revival; in 1836 a school was opened in the monastery and a literary center developed. In 1876, during the April uprising, a group of revolutionaries gathered in the monastery and were later defeated by the Turks; a valuable architectural heritage is the stone fountain with eight taps built in the monastery’s yard; the fountain was built by the prominent builder of the Bulgarian National Revival - master Kolyo Ficheto;
The impressive Shipka monument rises on Shipka peak in Stara Planina some 30 km. away from Gabrovo. The monument is a memorial to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the Liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish war in 1878. The monument is a 31,5 m.high stone tower whose entrance is guarded by a giant bronze lion; a figure of a woman symbolizes the victory over the Turkish army; on the first floor of the monument is kept a sarcophagus that holds the remains of some of the heroes who lost their lives in the war; on the other four floors can be seen replicas of Bulgarian military flags and other relics; the top of the tower reveals a magnificent view over the mountains;
Close to the town of Shipka(50 km.from Gabrovo) is the church Birth of Christ; the church(1885-1902) was built in the style of the Russian churches from the 17th century and is dedicated to the Russian and Bulgarian soldiers who died for the Liberation of Bulgaria;
Dryanovo - the town is situated at the foot of Stara Planina, on the two banks of Dryanovska river; Dryanovo is just 20 km. away from Gabrovo and 24 km.from Veliko Tarnovo;
The oldest traces of human presence dating back to the paleolithic age were found in the region of Dryanovo; ruins of ancient Roman and Thracian settlements, fortresses, pillars with inscriptions can be seen today in the surroundings of the town;
Like most mountain settlements Dryanovo rapidly developed in the years of the National Revival;
The town is the birth place of the eminent master builder from the National Revival-Kolyo Ficheto;
Historical sights in Dryanaovo:
The house(now a museum)of Kolyo Ficheto
The church St.Nicola - impressive with its architecture; built by Kolyo Ficheto
The church Holy Trinity(1897)
Ikonomovata kashta - interesting with the exposition”Icons from the region of Dryanovo-17th-19th century”
Lafchievata kashta - another interesting with its architecture house built in 1840;
Dryanovskata charshia - the trade street in Dryanovo with houses and workshops from the National Revival;
Close to Dryanovo:
Dryanovski monastery - located only 5km. from Dryanovo; it was founded in the beginning of the 12th century, during the Second Bulgarian Empire; in the years of the Ottoman oppression, the monastery had been burnt down and plundered a couple of times; the monastery played an important role in the struggle for national freedom and independence; during the April uprising in 1876 after severe battles against the Turks the monastery had been burnt down and destroyed.
The cave Bacho Kiro - the cave is some 300m. from the Dryanovski monastery; it was formed by the waters of Dryanovska river; the cave’s total length is 3500m.; archaeological finds in the cave date back to the Paleolithic age;
Diskoduratera - 15 km. northwest from Dryanovo, near the village of Gostilica are preserved the ruins of the ancient Roman emporium “Diskoduratera” (meaning”a solid fortress"); in the late Antiquity and the Middle Ages the fortress was an important trade and transport center; it was located on the road leading to the ancient Roman town Nicopolis ad Istrum;
Tryavna - a small mountain town,situated in the valley of Trevnenska river at the foot of the Balkan; Tryavna is just 22 km. from Gabrovo and 42km. from Veliko Tarnovo;
Tryavna was founded in the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire by the Bulgarian tsars Asen and Petar after their victory over the Byzantine army in 1192; initially the church St. Archangel Michael was built (still preserved today, it is one of the oldest churches in central Bulgaria) and around it a settlement was formed;
In the years of the National Revival Tryavna was a flourishing economic and cultural center; crafts flowered, especially woodcarving, icon-painting and masonry; the famous Tryavna artschool was formed and the works inherited from it are real masterpieces in woodcarving and icon-painting; one of the first secular schools were established in Tryavna in 1839; there worked as a teacher the noted Bulgarian poet and public figure Petko Slaveikov; Tryavna is the birth place of his son-the prominent Bulgarian poet Pencho Slaveikov; Tryavna was among the towns that actively participated in the April uprising in 1876;
Today Tryavna is one of the few Bulgarian towns with preserved architecture from the period of the National Revival;
Historical sights in Tryavna:
Tryavana square - one of the most impressive achievements of the Bulgarian town planning and architecture from the Revival Period; the square is surrounded by various buildings,different in their size, height and architecture; here is the clock tower (1814), the stone (humpback) bridge(1844), the church St.Archangel Michael, and many workshops.
The old part of the town where all the houses and workshops illustrate the typical Bulgarian architecture from the Revival period;
The old Travna school - today turned into a museum of Tryavna’s woodcarving traditions;
Kalinchevata kashta - situated in the old part of the town presenting an exposition of pictures of famous Bulgarian artists;
Raikovata kashta - interesting with its ethnographic exposition;
Daskalovata kashta - 1804-one of the most visited museums in Tryavna where can be seen the greatest achievements of the old Tryavna school of woodcarving;
The museum of Travna’s icon-painting - presenting a collection of over 160 original icons painted by prominent masters from 17th-19th century; the house (now a museum) of Petko Slaveikov and his son Pencho Slaveikov; the museum features an exposition of the poetic works of the two authos;