Staro Stefanovo - a Bulgarian Renaissance Fairy Tale near Lovech
There is one place near Lovech, which will take you back in time and will provide you an escape from the city life. It will shelter you among high hills, century-old beech forests, spacious meadows and rich history. This is the architectural reserve "Staro Stefanovo"(or Old Stefanovo). It is a true oasis for all lovers of beauty, peace and tranquility.
This enchanting village - Stefanovo, is situated at the foot of the Central Forebalkan, 20 km southeast of the town of Lovech. In 1982, it was declared an Architectural Reserve. A total of 96 objects in it are monuments of culture. All this predetermines a new direction for the development of the village - namely cultural and rural tourism in an authentic atmosphere from the Renaissance. The village turns into a film set of some of the most loved Bulgarianfilms and the local population actively participates with props.
Among the local attractions is the small chapel "Holy Trinity", which is built next to the 1300-year-old oak tree, which recently burnt. In its foundations, the rest of the stem of the centuries-old tree is visible. It is known that the place for centuries has been used as a holy place by the inhabitants of the village.
In 1978, the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built between 1880 and 1882, was declared a monument of culture in the yard of Ivanaki Yonkov – Kyurkchiyata (a tailor). It is an architectural masterpiece in church building in the 19th century. It is a cross-shaped domed, three-nave basilica with a spacious, broad-leaved and solid stone frieze, with solid columns in the middle and vaulted windows. You can visit Stefanovo on September 8, when it is the church feast and the village fair.
According to an old Bulgarian custom, in the yard of the church, in 1906, a school was built. It bears the name "Stefan Pashev". It was once one of the largest secondary schools in the region and has gathered children not only from the village, but also from close by neighborhoods and lodges. Nowadays, however, it is closed.
Take a stroll through the quiet streets of the village and explore the beautiful houses with their floral and other motifs called "alfrang". There were also more complicated drawings of: a rooster, a shepherd who brings an oxen into a yard, and others. Unfortunately, a small number of them have been preserved to this day. The Alafrangs on the houses are the work of Grandpa Rusko and his wife Rada, who also write the icons in the church.
In the immediate vicinity of the church you can see a monument of the victims of the village of Stefanovo on the battlefields of the wars for national unification. There you can also see a very old cannon "ZIS 3" - 76.2 mm. from the Second World War.
Do not miss to see the village faucet. It was built by the Lovech master Marin Hristov in 1830. The faucet is a gift to the village by the local governor Hadji Ibryam. Another local landmark is Popov bridge (1824). Both sites are on the list of cultural monuments and are protected by the law.
In the small shop on the Staro Stefanovo square you can buy home-made products, comfortable traditional slippers called terlitsi or a souvenir. In the village tavern you can read the thoughts and wishes of actors, members of the film crews and guests of the village, reflected on panels put on the walls.
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