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Gabrovo Town Hall
Gabrovo Town Hall
Flag of Gabrovo
Coat of arms of Gabrovo
Gabrovo is located in Bulgaria
Location of Gabrovo
Gabrovo is located in Balkans
Gabrovo (Balkans)
Coordinates: 42°52′N 25°20′E / 42.867°N 25.333°E / 42.867; 25.333Coordinates: 42°52′N 25°20′E / 42.867°N 25.333°E / 42.867; 25.333
 • MayorTanya Hristova
 • Town233.817 km2 (90.277 sq mi)
392 m (1,286 ft)
 (Census 2021)[1]
 • Town48,133
 • Density210/km2 (530/sq mi)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal Code
Area code066
WebsiteOfficial website

Gabrovo (Bulgarian: Габрово [ˈɡabrovo]) is a town in central northern Bulgaria, the administrative centre of Gabrovo Province.

It is situated at the foot of the central Balkan Mountains, in the valley of the Yantra River, and is known as an international capital of humour and satire (see Gabrovo humour), as well as noted for its Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Gabrovo is also known as the longest town in Bulgaria, stretching over 25 km[2] along the Yantra, yet reaching only 1 km (0.6 mi) in width at places. The geographic center of Bulgaria - Uzana is located near the town.


Statue of Racho Kovacha

According to the most widespread legend, Gabrovo was founded by a blacksmith called Racho,[3] close to whose fireplace a hornbeam rose, so the settlement acquired its name, from the Slavic word gabar ("hornbeam") + the Slavic suffix -ovo.


The area around Gabrovo, inhabited since the Neolithic, gained economic importance after Veliko Tarnovo became capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 12th century. Craftsmanship and trade prospered due to the proximity to both the capital and the Balkan passes. Medieval Gabrovo was a small pass village of about 100 houses.

After the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans in the 14th century, the demographic position of Gabrovo changed significantly, as it was the only settlement in a considerably large geographic area and an attractive place for Bulgarians fleeing from the conquered capital and neighbouring fortresses. It turned from a village into a small town (palanka) and began to develop as an economic, cultural and spiritual centre.

Bulgarian Orthodox Theophany Crucession in Gabrovo. The priests are going to throw a wooden cross in Yantra. Believers will then jump into the icy waters to "save" the cross.

During Ottoman rule, the rich tradesmen spent plenty of resources for the small town's public planning. The first Bulgarian secular school, the Aprilov National High School, was founded in Gabrovo in 1835 with the aid of Vasil Aprilov and Nikolay Palauzov. Gabrovo was officially proclaimed a town by the Ottoman authority in May 1860. In the 1870s Felix Kanitz said that Gabrovo is "a big workshop" and that it is a "city that lives from the water," referring to widely used water power. The glory of the goods of Gabrovo became known throughout the Ottoman Empire, and beyond that, in Bucharest even nowadays there is a street named "Gabroveni".

Shortly before and after the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, Gabrovo developed as a centre of industry on the basis of its economic traditions. Joint-stock companies emerged, factories were constructed and connections to the large stock exchanges were created, prompting some to label the town "The Bulgarian Manchester".[4]

The Bulgarian National Revival church of Gabrovo, an architectural monument.


Gabrovo saw its most rapid growth in the post-World War II years, when its population was doubled. Following general population trends in Bulgaria, the number of citizens started declining after the fall of Communism in the country. People started emigrating abroad or to the capital of Sofia. Currently, Gabrovo is more than 20,000 people short of its peak, achieved in the period 1985-1991 when the number of the residents exceeded 80,000.[5] The following table presents the change of the population after the liberation of the country in 1887. According to Census 2011, as of February 2011, the population of the town was 58,950 inhabitants.[6]

Year 1887 1910 1934 1946 1956 1965 1975 1985 1992 2001 2005 2009 2011 2021
Population 7,958 8,423 13,668 21,180 37,919 57,920 75,091 81,629 76,529 67,065 63,004 60,281 58,950 48,133
Highest number 81,786 in 1986
Sources: National Statistical Institute,[6][5][7][1],[8],[9] Bulgarian Academy of Sciences[10]

Ethnic, linguistic and religious composition[edit]

According to the latest 2011 census data, the individuals declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows:[11][12]

  • Bulgarians: 54,227 (97.9%)
  • Turks: 473 (0.9%)
  • Roma: 343 (0.6%)
  • Others: 193 (0.3%)
  • Indefinable: 151 (0.3%)
    • Undeclared: 3,563 (6.0%)

Total: 58,950

The ethnic composition of Gabrovo Municipality is 60,207 Bulgarians, 504 Turks and 367 Roma among others.


Internationally known as a centre of humour and satire, Gabrovo has two theatres, the Racho Stoyanov Drama Theatre and the puppet theatre, a House of Humour and Satire that serves as a cultural institute, a centre, museum and gallery to popularise comic art. There is a cinema, Aleko Cinema, and museums and memorial houses in the town and around it, most notably the Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex and the National Museum of Education at the Aprilov National High School.

On a Saturday around the week of May 21, Gabrovo hosts an annual Carnival of Humor and Satire with the slogan in Bulgarian “Da izkukurigame ot smyah” (translating to "Let`s go nuts from laughter"). On the day of the carnival, the streets of Gabrovo town are overflowing with fun characters like masked musketeers, bullfighters, shamans, gypsies, and much more. The carnival is also popular for its use of traditional Balkan songs, folklore choreography, and a rich display of Gabrovo humour and culture.[13]

A planetarium is in operation.


Places of interest in Gabrovo include the House of Humour and Satire and Aprilov National High School. In Gabrovo Province sites include architectural reserve Bozhentsi. Hiking is widely available in the Central Balkan National Park and in the Bulgarka Nature Park, itself home to Ethnographic Complex Etara, Dryanovo Monastery, Sokolski Monastery, Shipka Pass, and the Uzana area. For admirers of historical tourism Shipka Memorial is a must-see. Gabrovo is member of the Creative Tourism Network ®.


  • Town's most successfully sports club is FC Yantra Gabrovo, which was founded in 1919.
  • The town also has long handball traditions.
  • About 25 km (16 mi) from the town in Central Balkan Mountains is located the renowned winter resort Uzana.


A minor planet 2206 Gabrova discovered on April 1, 1976 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh is named in honor of the town.[14]

Gabrovo Knoll on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Gabrovo.

Notable people[edit]



Gabrovo has one of the biggest technical universities in Bulgaria, the Technical University of Gabrovo. The technical university in Gabrovo opened in 1964. The idea for the university came from the 1840s. Today the university has about 5400 students; around 60 of them are from other countries.[21]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Gabrovo is twinned with:[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Население по области, общини, местоживеене и пол | Национален статистически институт" (in Bulgarian). 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2022-08-25.
  2. ^ Bulgaria (Other Places Travel Guide). Other Places Publishing. 2012. p. 135. ISBN 9780982261996.
  3. ^ Kay, Annie (2008). Bulgaria. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 157. ISBN 9781841621555.
  4. ^ Gabrovo in Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ a b (in Bulgarian)National Statistical Institute - Towns population 1956-1992[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b (in Bulgarian)National Statistical Institute - Main Towns Census 2011 Archived 2011-04-08 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (in English) Bulgarian National Statistical Institute - towns in 2009 Archived November 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ (in English) „WorldCityPopulation“
  9. ^ „“
  10. ^ (in Bulgarian) Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ (in Bulgarian) Population on 01.02.2011 by provinces, municipalities, settlements and age; National Statistical Institute Archived September 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Population by province, municipality, settlement and ethnic identification, by 01.02.2011; Bulgarian National Statistical Institute Archived 2013-05-21 at the Wayback Machine (in Bulgarian)
  13. ^ "Regulation | Gabrovo carnival". Archived from the original on 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  14. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 179. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
  15. ^ Crampton, R. J. (November 24, 2005). A Concise History of Bulgaria. Cambridge University Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780521616379.
  16. ^ Entangled Histories of the Balkans. BRILL. June 13, 2013. p. 185. ISBN 9789004250765.
  17. ^ Palairet, Michael R. (November 13, 2003). The Balkan Economies c. 1800-1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 245. ISBN 9780521522564.
  18. ^ Anamnesis article by Hristo Berov
  19. ^ Conflicting Loyalties in the Balkans. I.B.Tauris. May 15, 2011. p. 138. ISBN 9781848854772.
  20. ^ Baal-Teshuva, Jacob (2001). Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Taschen. p. 11. ISBN 9783822859964.
  21. ^ "Technical University of Gabrovo". Technical University of Gabrovo. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Побратимени градове". (in Bulgarian). Gabrovo. Retrieved 2019-10-29.

External links[edit]