The small museum-filled town of Koprivshtitsa was the first stop on our trip across the country. Koprivshtitsa’s claim to fame is its huge amount of preserved National Revival-era houses (built anywhere from 1762-1878) and the role it played in the uprising against the Turks on April, 20th 1876-known as the April Uprising. On that date, it is said that Todor Kableshkov fired the first shots from a small bridge in the town, now known as Kalachev or Kableshkov Bridge.
I had heard so much about this quaint little village and, thankfully, it did not disappoint in the slightest. Vince and I, along with one other couple, were the only people (that I saw) touring the town’s house museums on the day we visited. It was easy to see how such a small village could be so massively popular with tourists in the warmer months. The 400+ preserved structures set along narrow cobblestone alleys, combined with charming little shops selling homemade preserves, honey, crafts, and traditional clothing, make the town a must-see.
As we visited on a Tuesday, 3 of the 6 house museums were closed. We were able to purchase a ticket that covered the other 3 which were open: Oslekov House, Debelyanov House, and Kableshkov House. Luckily, these are the 3 best examples of architecture from the period (or so we were told), especially the Oslekov and Kableshkov Houses.
Oslekov, a rich merchant who was killed in the April Uprising, built a grand house and outfitted it with many items collected during his travels. Oslekov House is considered the bet example of Revival-period architecture in Koprivshtitsa and is now an ethnographic museum. Conveniently, nearly all of the exhibits and plaques are translated into English.
Dimcho Debelyanov was very well known Bulgarian poet who died during WWI. Debelyanov House itself was built in 1830 and is dedicated to his memory. On display are many of his handwritten poems, photographs, paintings, and other memorabilia.
Next up, we visited Kableshkov House, which was built in 1845. This was my favorite of the 3 houses we visited due to its curved gables, richly painted interior, and large amount of antique items/staged rooms.
The staff at each house was really helpful in giving directions to the next museum and they also overlooked my taking photographs inside the houses, even though photography isn’t permitted (Bulgarians never seem too strict with the rules). Along the way, we stopped at the Church of Uspenie Bogorodichno and visited its graveyard, where Debelyanov and Kableshkov are buried. I have a huge fascination with old graveyards, so making my first visit to one in Bulgaria was a highlight.
The last stop on our tour of Koprivshtitsa was Kableshkov Bridge–the alleged site where Todor Kableshkov fired the shot that started the April Uprising. As such, I made Vince do a gun pose!
Whew! You made it to the end! I promise the rest of my road trip posts will not be near this long. Koprivshtitsa was just a highly anticipated and long-awaited trip, so I went a bit nuts with the photos.
More to come in the next few days (and weeks, probably!).
P.S. Please forgive any grievous spelling or grammatical errors. After writing this behemoth, I have no energy left for proofreading!