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Visit The Town of the Holy Mother

Between two hills, along two river banksa fortress of the Bulgarian south. People change, time runs Haskovo is ever present.... D. Zlatev

Located at an important crossroad, linking the East and the West, Haskovo reflects the whole history of Bulgaria. This is the land where the Thracian people left traces from the flourishing state of their civilization. This is the land where the ancient Bulgarian people built unique fortresses to protect the borders of the country. The spiritual fire of the Renaissance was lit here to be kept alive and strong eversince. Haskovo follows its way ahead with the ability of its residents to remember its history and with their strong ambition to shape its contemporary look. The city faces with dignity its own future where together with the preserved traditions new ideas and promising development perspectives find their place. I am glad that today we keep establishing new traditions and symbols and our best quality to bridge over the past and the future is rooted in our faith in the future of Haskovo. As Mayor of Haskovo I have the pleasure to welcome all those who come to Haskovo and stay its friends forever!

Georgi Ivanov Mayor of Haskovo

The Bulgarian state was created in 681. During its more than 1300 years of history it has gone through moments of upsurge and ordeals. Located on a crossroad in the center of the Balkan peninsula, an ancient crossroad between Europe and Asia, in the course of the centuries the country has been influenced by numerous cultures - the Thracian, the Hellenic, the Roman, the Byzantine, the Slavic. Plenty of cultural monuments of unique historical value have been preserved, many of which are under the protection of UNESCO. Bulgaria is a country in the Danube and Black Sea region, not far away from the Mediterranean Sea. It occupies a territory of 111 000 sq. km and has a population of about 8 million. As a part of Southeastern Europe, it serves as a bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Its territory is a point of intersection of four European main transport corridors which connect the west and the north of Europe with the eastern and the southern parts of the continent. In addition to its important crossroad location, Bulgaria is known for its picturesque nature - a beneficial combination of wide plains, hilly areas and high mountains. Broad beaches and stunning coastal cliffs are all along the Black Sea coast. As a full member of the European Union, Bulgaria successfully builds up the pattern of a modern and prosperous country in which the dynamic daily round combines with the rich historical and cultural heritage while the natural wealth enchants with diversity and natural beauty.

The oldest settlements in the territory of Haskovo and its surroundings date back to the New Stone Age (around the Vth millennium BC). The favourable geographic location and living conditions were conducive to their early and progressive development. The town of Haskovo was founded as a trade settlement on an important crossroad on the road from Plovdiv to Edirne and Constantinopole and the road from Russe to the Aegean coasts. It developed into a crafts center but considerably smaller than the nearby village of Uzundzhovo, famous for its annual fair. In and around Haskovo, evidence has been preserved that confirms its long history during the prehistoric, Thracian, Roman, late ancient and medieval periods. The archaeological sites, which were unknown before the 50-ties of the XXth century, have revealed a plethora of data about the Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

In the IXth century a fortress was built in Haskovo and during the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom Haskovo became a town center of a wide region between the rivers the Klokotnitsa, the Harmanlijska and the Maritsa. The excavations and the research of the fortress have shown important information for the history of the town of Haskovo not only during the Middle Ages (IXth - XIVth c.) but also during earlier ages. In 1782, the town was known as Marsa. Presumably, the current name came from the Arabic word “kjoy” (village). Several historians have ascertained that the name is also rooted in the Turkish word “has” (clean). Strengthening this argument further, the town was literally called “Clean Town” during the Renaissance period.

The unique Thracian tomb which dates back to the IVth century BC was found in the vicinity of the village of Aleksandrovo, the municipality of Haskovo in 2000 by a team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Georgi Kitov. The premises were used as a temple and mausoleum. It is one of the most remarkable monuments of Thracian culture; the mural paintings in it are of exceptional worth not only for their high artistic value, they enrich with new data our knowledge of Thracian religious rituals, armaments, clothes and way of life. The tomb has a 10 m long corridor and two chambers - rectangular and round. The scenes are figure compositions with figures of people - riders and walkers, wild and domestic animals, floral and geometrical ornaments which cover the walls at the end of the corridors and the two chambers.

A wealth of varied mural paintings can be seen in the round burial chamber, built from precisely cut stone blocks. It is decorated with 16 belts, one above the other. The images of the riders have an extremely important scientific values. The 23 human figures are represented at different moments of life and they contain a wealth of information about the life of the Thracian people. The tomb in Aleksandrovo proves the high artistic skills of the Thracian people and can serve as a link in our knowledge of the Antiquity, comparing similar monuments in Southern Italy and Greece. The huge interest displayed towards the tomb comes from cultural and scientific circles, from wider public in Bulgaria and abroad. In the immediate proximity of the tomb is built a spacious museum of Thracian art which contains a replica of the tomb. This makes the complex an extremely attractive tourist site.

Haskovo region is rich in cultural and historic monuments from different ages. 1. Thracian dolmen - village of Hlyabovo - Ist millennium B.C. 2. Thracian menhir - village of Ovcharovo - Ist millennium B.C. 3. Thracian rock tomb - village of Pchelari - Ist millennium B.C. 4. Thracian cromlech - village of Dolni Glavanak - Ist millennium B.C. 5. Thracian recesses - village of Dolno Cherkovishte - Ist millennium B.C. 6. Rock basin - village of Madzharovo - Ist millennium B.C. 7. Thracian sanctuary - village of Malko Gradishte - Ist millennium B.C. 8. Thracian tomb - village of Aleksandrovo - IVth c. B.C. 9. Thracian tomb - village of Mezek - IVth c. B.C. - Dromos 10. Thracian sanctuary - village of Kasnakovo - IInd - IIIrd c. A.D. 11. Mosaic - villa Armira - Ivaylovgrad - IInd - IVth c. 12. Rock church - village of Matochina - Xth c. 13. Rock church - village of Mihalich - Xth c. 14. Medieval fortress - village of Mezek - XIth c. 15. Medieval fortress - village of Matochina - XIth c. 16. Medieval fortress Lyutitsa - Ivaylovgrad - XIIIth c. 17. Medieval fortress - village of Gugutka - XIIth c. 18. Aterrainian bridge - Ivaylovgrad - XIVth - XVth c. 19. The Maritsa river bridge - Svilengrad - 1529 20. The Paskalevs’ house - Haskovo - the middle of XIXth c. 21. The Shishmanovs’ house - Haskovo - the middle of XIXth c. 22. Frescos from the church “St.St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel” - Haskovo - XIXth c. 23. “The Assumption” church - village of Uzundzhovo - 1500

The Historical Museum in Haskovo treasures more than 120 000 monuments of the cultural and historical heritage. Unique pre-historic, antique and medieval artefacts made of ceramics, stone, iron and glass form part of the rich exposition of the museum. Extremely valuable is the collection of more than 22 000 antique and medieval coins. The artefacts and the documentary heritage from the Bulgarian Renaissance as well as from the new and modern history of Bulgaria, the collections of old photos of the town, weapons, icons, educational and ecclesiastical objects and objects connected with the struggle of Bulgarian people for national liberation are all hard evidence of the rich history of the Haskovo region. About 50 kilometers south of Haskovo in the Eastern Rhodopes lies the antique town and the medieval fortress “Perperikon�. This ancient town, entirely cut in the rocks, is the largest megalith unit on the Balkan Peninsula. The stone structures were created in the end of the Bronze Age and were further developed in the early Iron Age, XIth - VIth century B.C.

The Haskovo Municipality is located among the rolling plains of southeastern Bulgaria. Strategically nestled between the Rhodopes and the Balkans, the region has a pleasant climate, easy transportation access, and has become a natural center for cultural life. Found along the fastest, and the most direct route linking Europe and the Middle East, Haskovo has a key location in the region. In fact, four of the trans-European transit corridors pass through the municipality region. The municipality covers 740 sq. km and includes the city of Haskovo and 35 surrounding villages. Of all aspects of life in Haskovo, the most remarkable and dynamic are the local citizens. The people of Haskovo are extremely proud, educated and cultured.

The business environment in Haskovo consists of a wide spectrum of industries of national and international firms of all branches and sizes. Food, wine, and tobacco production boldly shape the current industrial structure of the community. They also command a large portion of the national market. There are a number of private companies in the area that specialize in producing machinery for food-processing, baking, meat processing, dairy products, and clothing, just to name a few. The multi-faceted agricultural economy is the important economic sector of the region. Thanks to the area’s temperate Mediterranean climate and natural resources, Haskovo can grow wheat, sesame, anise, corn, and especially tobacco and cotton, which are of the highest quality in Bulgaria. Vineyards and vegetable farming are also highly developed in the area.

“The Assumption� church in the village of Uzundzhovo is the biggest village church in Bulgaria. It was built around the year 1500. In 1593 it was destroyed and on its site a Turkish mosque was erected. The authentic architecture is preserved even to this day. In 1906 the property of the building was assigned to the government of Bulgaria by the Turkish Embassy. It was reconstructed into a Christian church in which an altar was built as well as the ornamentation typical for the Christian Orthodox church. Specialists claim that only two more churches in Bulgaria have the same type of construction - the church is built only by stone monolithic blocks and the thickness of the walls is 1.5 m wide. The church has incredible acoustics.

In 2007 the church was fully reconstructed and restored. The dome was covered with a new copper plating and the crosses were gilted again. The murial paintings, the icons, the facade and the walls of the Christian church were completely restored. The new iconostasis impresses with its exquisite wood-carvings and incredible beauty. The cross is 9 meters high and 14 meters wide and these dimensions make the iconostasis unique together with the first carved Glagolitic prayer. „The Assumption“ church was inaugurated on 09th of September, 2007 by His High Right Reverend, the Bishop Nicolay.

The oldest objects connected with the daily activities and religious cults, which bear Christian symbols, found on the territory of Haskovo municipality date back to the end of IVth century, as well as a number of Early Christian basilicas from the Vth century. During the Bulgarian Renaissance Haskovo became a prosperous economic center. In the beginning of the XIXth c. the manufactures and the merchants in the town organised the construction of a small church in 1861 on the same place where in 1837 was the big cathedral church “The Holy Mother”. Later other churches were built in Haskovo - “St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel” (1861), “St. George” and “St. Dimitar”. By the end of the XIXth century a lot of Christian churches were built all over the territory of Haskovo municipality which proves the Christian affiliations of the population.

8th September

The Birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

The celebration of the birthday of Virgin Mary is a Holiday, deeply rooted in the rich and ancient history of the town of Haskovo. The respect and esteem to the Mother of God as a protectress of the town has always been alive through the centuries and is permanently connected with the traditions and values handed down from generation to generation. With a resolution of the Municipal Council of the town of Haskovo, voted in 1993, the Holiday of the Birth of Blessed Virgin Mary is declared as

The Day of Haskovo

The celebrations in honour of this day carry the message of dignity and faith which make the residents of Haskovo love and care for their town.

The Monument of the Holy Mother

8th September The Birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

The Day of Haskovo

The Monument is built in honour and respect to the Holy Mother of God the Protectress of the town of Haskovo. It was dedicated with a sanctification ceremony held by the High Right Reverend, The Bishop Arsenii. Authors: Petyo Aleksandrov, Nikola Stoyanov and staff. It is made of polymer-concrete, its weight is 80 tons. The “Blessed Virgin Mary” monument’s attractive appearance is well completed by the chapel “Birth of Blessed Virgin Mary”, built in its foundation in 2004. The icon-painting is made by Todor Mirchev

The beginning of theatrical activity in Haskovo is set in the period between 1879 and 1882 from Anton Popov, who played an exceptional role not only in the theatrical history of Haskovo, but in national theater history as well. Professional theatrical activity in Haskovo has existed since 1921, while the theater building was built as far back as 1926. It is named after Ivan Dimov - one of the best drama and cinema actors in Bulgaria who performed and directed plays in the town. The fame of “Ivan Dimov� theater is connected with the work of many prominent theatrical figures. Some of the most leading performers from the puppet and drama theatre work here today.

Side by side with the famous figures, young talented actors perform on the stage of “Ivan Dimov” Theatre, whose interesting performance provokes the audience and sharpens its taste for the experiment in the theatre performing. The “Theatre Holidays” in June has added a new and non-traditional feature to the theatre life of the town, when broad street and garden spaces, Renaissance houses and taverns become the open-air stages for the play of leading Bulgarian and foreign theatre groups. The entirely renewed and reconstructed building of the Drama and Puppet Theater “Ivan Dimov” was re-opened officially on 8th September 2004 with an official ceremony which marked 125 years of theatrical life in Haskovo.

The past and present of Haskovo are tied together by the names of many famous artists. Together with the thousands of citizens of Haskovo, they have created the free spirit and unique character of the city. Haskovo historical museum, art gallery, regional library and municipality halls of culture all preserve the culture, relics, and past achievements of the town’s long history and numerous generations. Haskovo offers a plethora of cultural institutions to display this rich past. For example, there is the Drama and Puppet Theatre, the Arts club, a symphony orchestra, a bass band, numerous folk ensembles and choirs. A large number of prominent Bulgarian sportsmen and sportswomen, holders of Olympic, world, European and national records and awards, have begun their career in Haskovo. Each year more than 60 young and promising people graduate the Sports School, the majority of whom continue their career in our national teams. The Sports school together with more than 20 sports clubs are functioning on the territory of Haskovo.

Each year the National competition “Southern Spring” is the meeting venue in Haskovo for young and talented poets, writers and literary critics. These literary celebrations have been acknowledged as especially reserved events which provide opportunities for the young Bulgarian literary men and women to make their first steps. The Musical Days “Prof. Nedyalka Simeonova” bear the name of the distinguished Bulgarian violinist, born more than 100 years ago in Haskovo. With their gifted performances, the present Bulgarian young violinists reveal the beauty of musical art and present unforgettable moments to the audience of Haskovo. Part of the local colour of the cultural events in Haskovo is the Folk Arts Fair “Lovely Thrace Sings and Dances”. For more than 40 years on the open stages in the beautiful forest “Kenana” numerous groups and individual performers from all over Bulgaria perform original Bulgarian songs, dances, rituals and customs.

Inhabited for more than 7000 years, the town of Haskovo has preserved its unique spirit. The rich cultural and sports life of the town is facilitated by the open stage of the Cultural and Sports Center “Spartak�. This unique open-air complex, arranged in tiers, seats 3500 people and has a covered stage space of 300 sq.m, which provides opportunities to satisfy the choices of the audience for different entertaining and sports events. The ice-rink with an area of 600 sq.m is constructed in front of the stage of the Cultural and Sports Center. It works in the winter months and is very attractive for a lot of visitors. The Ice Rink provides opportunity for 200 children and other skaters at a time to practise their skating skills under the competent guidance of professional instructors. The skate rink is the place where the children hockey team of Haskovo train regularly. Together with the hotel facilities, the Cultural and Sports Center has turned into an attractive area for leisure activities for the inhabitants of the town and its guests.

Tourism is yet another side to Haskovo. The municipality’s local attractions and convenient location constantly attract visitors. In terms of highlights, the municipality’s historical architecture is a major draw. The city has preserved many of its Ottoman-style streets, which echo memories of life centuries long ago. There are countless historical homes and buildings throughout the municipality that have preserved the sense of the region’s long history. Real architectural gems, the Renaissance houses in Haskovo provide evidence of the skills and imagination of the old masters who have sculptured unforgettable facades and have created beautiful interior designs.

Haskovo has become a successfully developing tourist destination due to its rich cultural and historical heritage, favourable geographic destination and dynamic modern development. This is acknowledged by the numerous prizes received at national and international tourist exhibitions. The tourist information center in Haskovo offers to the guests of the town detailed information for all possibilities for recreation and entertainment - museums and historical monuments, natural sights, cultural and sports events, hotels and restaurants.

If you happen to visit Haskovo as a guest of a cultural or sports event, to be on a business visit or just a tourist, there is plenty on offer for your free time. Tourism becomes more and more important for the town and it has turned into a prospering developing branch. This is also due to the fact that the transit passengers from Europe to the Middle East have turned to be serous customers of tourist services. Haskovo welcomes its guests in the hospitable hotels and restaurants, which offer perfect conditions for recreation and rest. They can find comfort and good service in the hotels with four, three and two stars categories. Haskovo is the place where the visitors can enjoy delicious food. In and around the town are numerous restaurants, cafes, cocktail bars, confectioner’s shops and night clubs. The restaurants in the old part of the town are the most attractive, as well as those located in the green coolness of the beautiful parks out of town.

Haskovo is famous for being one of the cleanest towns in Bulgaria. Despite this fact, its citizens have become increasingly concerned about the ecological protection of the area’s natural environment. Haskovo is actually a member of a union of European towns for sustainable development. The town’s ecological program is involved in many important projects relating to waste management, air and water monitoring, environmental management, regional ecological preservation, and so on.

The maintenance and the renovation of the existing green areas and the construction of new ones have become the major principles of the management of the green system of Haskovo. Haskovo offers perfect opportunities for walks in the country. There are two big parks - the Kenana and the Yamacha - where one can forget about the stress of the hectic days. The fans of mountaineering will enjoy the easy access to the beautiful Aida mountain with its numerous treks in the virgin forest and the archaeological remains from the Thracian times.



No, I wouldn’t enjoy a better walk even in the noisiest capitals of the world I have known this winding river and have grown under these polar trees V. Zamanchev

Haskovo is an ancient town, where a rich past meets a dynamic future to create a unique atmosphere. The town has repeatedly shown its potential. It is determined to continue growing and will surely succeed because it is open to every initiative for the development of new projects, productions, and services. Haskovo is inviting you to take advantage of its innovative and unparalleled ways to discover new business solutions and expanded opportunities.

Haskovo Municipality 1, Obshtinski Sq. Haskovo 6300 Bulgaria tel.: +359 38 603 300 fax: +359 38 662 424 e-mail:


History and Present of Haskovo City