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Petrevene Municipality office.JPG
Petrevene is located in Bulgaria
Location of Petrevene
Coordinates: 43°9′32″N 24°8′53″E / 43.15889°N 24.14806°E / 43.15889; 24.14806Coordinates: 43°9′32″N 24°8′53″E / 43.15889°N 24.14806°E / 43.15889; 24.14806
Country Bulgaria
Lovech Province
 • Total17.823 km2 (6.881 sq mi)
135 m (443 ft)
 (1 January 2006)
 • Total659
 • Density37/km2 (96/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Petreventzi, (Петревенци)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal Code
Area code(s)06981

Petrevene (Pétrevene, Petrevéne, Bulgarian: Петревене) is a village in North Central Bulgaria. It is situated on the left bank of Panega river (Bulgarian: Панега, also: Zlatna Panega, Bulgarian: Златна Панега, "Golden Panega", old: Paneg, Altǎn Paneg). It is in the Municipality of Lukovit, part of the District of Lovech, and is 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away from the municipality center of Lukovit. The main road E-83 and the railroad Cherven Bryag—Zlatna Panega pass through it.[1]

Historical records of the settlement date back from the early 15th century, during the Ottoman Empire, although evidence from the surrounding areas indicate the area was likely settled much earlier. Historically, it has been an important part of the marble trade, and is notable for its long history of shifting Pomak Muslim and Christian village populations and tensions.

It known for its local festival 'Watermelon Day' – a longstanding and popular local tradition dating back to 1936.[2] The local economy is based around small farming, particularly cattle, and services to traffic from the local high road.


The etymology of Petrevene's name likely stems from the old-Greek word for stone, "petros" (ancient Greek:πέτρoς), as the Nabataean city of Petra, now in Jordan. Indeed, there are numerous sandstone quarries nearby, used since ancient times.[3] High quality stones (though not real marble) from them have been extracted and exported even to Romania. Petrevene's medieval name, Mramor or Mramornitza, i.e. "marble", seems to support this hypothesis. In fact, under the name of "Miramor, Mromor", i.e. "Mramor", soon after the Ottoman invasion Petrevene was listed in "Tahrir Defter", the first Ottoman tax registry of 1430. Probably, even before that, during the Second Bulgarian State, its name still has been Mramor or Mramornitza. It is quite possible also that Petrevene is named after some individual called Petǎr (indeed, in its vicinity there are ruins known as Petrova gradezh, i.e. "Peter's construction".[3]) -- a village elder, or an Eastern Orthodox monk (of the nearby Middle Age monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, the ruins of which can be found near the bridge of the Belenska River south of the village).[3] The alternative name under which Petrevene is listed in Tahrir Defter, "Petreve sele", i.e. "Petrevo selo", seems to support this hypothesis. It is quite possible that the name came from both of the above hypotheses.


On the edge of the Danubian Plain and Stara Planina, Petrevene lies almost entirely on the left bank of Panega river. The village is bordered by the hill Belopole to its west and by Panega river to its east.[4] It is built primarily on terraces which face towards the river and are built into the hillside.[5]

Climate and drainage[edit]

The climate is well-defined temperate continental; precipitation being an average of 450 mm (18 in) to 550 mm (22 in) a year. This is lower than the standard precipitation for the Danubian plain as its proximity to Stara Planina means that the annual rainfall is lower. However, since Petrevene lies on Panega river it is well irrigated and is home to a large amount of natural springs. A lot of these natural springs were then developed and made into public drinking water taps. Among these there are the Rashkovo Kladenche, Blyalata Cheshma and Ibovetz. There is also a tributary which feeds into Panega river locally known as Dulǎt (Bulgarian: Дулът). Most of the households which lie on either side of the Dulǎt use it as an open sewer for human and household waste. Although the village does have a minor sewage disposal system it does not extend to the entire village.



Petrevene is located 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) away from Geopark Iskǎr-Panega, (a UNESCO run nature reserve which is managed by the Lukovit County). Much of the flora and fauna present there can also be found in Petrevene. As the agricultural industry in Petrevene diminished, many of the surrounding fields were left un-farmed, and were consequently overrun by wilderness and weeds. This meant that many of the original animals and plants that were driven out in order to make the land fully arable could now being to restore their presence. On the other hand, many plants common to the sphere of agriculture have been naturalized and have become commonplace due to the extensive farming. For example, wheat can be commonly found around the area.


The surrounding countryside is home to many types of wildlife, however most of the animals present in the region can be observed in other areas of Bulgaria. The variety of mammals in the region, for example, is quite rich. Species that are widely spread throughout Bulgaria are predominant here:[6] these include hedgehogs (Erinaceus concolor), moles (Talpa europaea), blind mole-rats (Nannospalax leucodon), Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), striped field mice (Apodemus agrarius), common voles (Microtus arvalis), wild rabbits (Lepus capensis), hamsters (Spermophilus citellus), wildcats (Felis sylvestris), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), beech martens (Martes foina), badgers (Meles meles), weasels (Mustela nivalis), otters (Lutra lutra), polecats (Mustela putorius), jackals (Canis aureus), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and roe deer. (Capreolus capreolus)[6]

The bird life of the region is quite rich. Most of these bird species are widely spread in the country. Some of these typically inhabit the fields – partridge (Perdix perdix), quail (Coturnix coturnix), field-lark (Alauda arvensis), yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), grey rook (Corvus corone), blue crow (Coracias garrulus), bee-eater (Merops apiaster),[6] others inhabitants of the forests – nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), wood-lark (Lullula arborea), garden warbler (Sylvia atricapilla), long-eared owl (Asio otus), tawny owl (Strix aluco). There are also several birds which inhabit the area that are listed in the Bulgaria section of the IUCN Red List.[6] These include, (but are not limited to), black stork (Ciconia nigra), pygmy cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) and the lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina). The area is home to many reptiles, among which feature the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). A common occurrence is for these animals to come into contact with the local people, either directly or indirectly. For example, badgers, weasels, and beech martens are regularly blamed for attacking local livestock, (mostly chicken and small fowl). Indeed, this is a major problem in some instances as jackals, for example, may wander into the village and attack sheep, livestock, and sometimes even guard dogs. For this reason most livestock owners tend to lock up their animals during the night


According to the botanical–geographic partition of Bulgaria, Petrevene falls in Euro-Asian steppe and forest steppe areas, specifically Illyrian province, part of the Pre-Balkan Range, Troyan-Tǎrnovo area.[7] As with much of the fauna, many of the plants present can be found in the Geopark Iskǎr-Panega. The area is home to a rich variety of flora, as many plant species are distributed on the limestone terrain of Petrevene's region within Bulgaria.[7] Among them there are some rare and endemic plants, which are decreasing throughout Bulgaria. These include endemic species like urum, (Seseli degenii), a plant endemic to the area, (found primarily within the central section of the Pre-Balkan area), which is listed in the Bulgaria section of the IUCN Red List as well as the European register for rare, threatened and endemic plant species.[7]


As part of the village's public services and institutions, there exist a post office, an Orthodox Christian church and a public library, which covers a total of 190 square metres (2,000 sq ft), contains 4786 volumes and hosts the Cultural Community Center "Ivan Stefanov-1918".[8] There are a total of 40 registered members of the library.


In Antiquity[edit]

The earliest evidence of settlements in the area is an Iron-Age grave, discovered in the "Cherkovishteto" region. Several Thracian burial mounds surround the village, left by the Tracian tribe ot Tribals.

During the Middle Ages[edit]

It is likely Petrevene has existed since during the First and the Second Bulgarian State. Its medieval name was Mramornitza or Mramor and it has been the center of the surrounding district of Mramornitza. The ruins of the St. Peter and St. Paul monastery in the "Ragachevoto" region are from the Middle Age. In the 13th century, when Bulgaria has been under the direct rule of the Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian-Paulicians were moved in the region from Thrace. They had adhered to non-canonical heretic Christian beliefs. Together with the Bogomils and other heretics they were antagonictic to the official Eastern Orthodoxy, with which they were fierce adversaries and rivals. During the early Ottoman period, and probably even before that, during the Second Bulgarian State, the village of Rumyancevo used to be called "Golam Pavlikan". A hamlet of the village of Zlatna Panega is still called "Pavlikeni", and the monastery near Petrevene has been devoted to St. Peter and St. Paul. It is believed that Bulgarian-Paulicians have Armenian-Paulician ancestry. The non-canonical religious beliefs were prosecuted as heretical by the dominant Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as by the pre-Ottoman authorities. However, they were tolerated later by the Ottoman authorities.

The center of Mramornitza District (Turk.: Kazá) (14th–16th centuries)[edit]

The rock monastery of St. Nikolai (Gligora) near Karlukovo, 14th century

According to the "Tahrir Defter" tax registry, Petrevene was the center of "Mromornicha" (Bulg.: "Mramornitza", Мраморница) District (Turk.: kazá) of the Nikbolu (Bulg.: Nikopol) region (Turk.: sancak) during the early Ottoman Empire. The Mramornitza District included the present day localities: Bărkach, Karlukovo, Krushovitza, Lepitza, Lukovit, Petrevene, Petarnitza, Oreshene, Reseletz, Ruptzi, Sadovetz, Suhache, Todorichene, Cherven Bryag, Chomakovtzi etc.[9] It bordered the kazas of Nikopol from the north (incl. Glava, Koynare), Lovech from the east (incl. Toros, Dermantzi, Gradeshnitza), Kievo from the south (in the Glozhene region, incl. Belentzi, Hubavene), Nedelino and Vratza from the west (incl. Roman, Byala Slatina). Till 1585, and even probably during the Second Bulgarian State, Petrevene carried two names - "Mramor" and "Petreven", or their variations, and used to be the center of the District of "Mramornitza". Soon after the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans, in 1430, it is included in the Ottoman tax registry, Tahrir Defter, where it is listed as Mramor (Turk.: Miramor, Mromor), as a first name, and as Petrevo selo (Turk.: Betreve sele) - as a second. Since for the time being the Ottoman administration have preserved the existing economy structures of the previous governments together with their tax systems from the pre-Ottoman period, it is quite likely that under the name Mramornitza or Mramor, Petrevene has been the center of the district, probably called also Mramornitza, even during the Second Bulgarian State.

The Prohodna cave in the Karlukovo canyon

In 1479 Petrevene is listed under the first name Petrevo selo and by the second - Mromor. At the same year it had 26 married Christian houses (1 house = 5 people) and 1 Christian widow, while in 1516 it had 14 married Christian houses and 13 Christian widows.[10] During the early Ottoman period as Christians (or Kristians) were listed only the Christian-heretics (Paulicians, Bogomils etc.), while the Eastern Orthodox Christians, subject to the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, were listed as Rum mileti.

During the late Ottoman period (16th–19th centuries)[edit]

Karlukovo monastery 'Dormition of the Theotokos', 14th century

In 1516 under the rule of sultan Selim I the Ottoman Empire has undergone major administrative changes. As a result, the kazá of Mramornitza has been closed. Parts of it were included in the kazás of Nikbolu (Bulg.: Nikopol) and Ivraca (Bulg.: Vratza).[10] As a result, Petrevene began to decline and part its population has moved elsewhere. Probably some of it has migrated to the villages of Mramoren in Vractza district and Petarnitza in Pleven district. Afterwards the village has been included in the kazás of Ivraca (Bulg.: Vratza) – in 1516, Nikbolu (Bulg.: Nikopol) – през 1545 and Plevne (Bulg.: Pleven), part of the Tuna vilaeti – in 1579 and 1873. While in 1545 and 1579 Petrevene was recorded under the first name Petreven and under second - Mramor, in 1585 it is recorded only under the name of Petre (Turk.: Betre).[10] After 1585 the name "Mramor", as well as "Mramornitza", have disappeared and with the passage of time, were forgotten. Ethnic Turks have never lived in Petrevene, though Pomaks (i.e. converted to Islam Bulgarian - Christian heretic) have. First Pomaks in the region were registered at the end of the 15th century.[10] In Petrevene first Pomaks were two people, who converted to the Islam in 1545 and were given the Arabic names Isa (Bulg.: Isus) and Abdi, sons of Abdullahwhich.[10] The word Pomak have appeared first in the Bulgarian Christian-heretical linguistic regions of North Bulgaria (the regions of Lovech, Teteven, Lukovit, the kazá of Mramornitza). Probably it comes from the expression "пó ямак" ("more than an Yamak", "more important than an Yamak", similarly to "пó юнак", i.e. "more than a hero"). It is quite possible also that the word comes from the dialect expressions "помáкан, омáкан, омáчен, помáчен" (pomákan, omákan, omáchen, pomáchen) in the sense of "provided by an estate or farmland", "farmer", provided by a guaranteed "мáка", an old dialect North-Bulgarian word for property, ownership, farm, estate,[11] unlike the Bulgarian Christians, who, before the Tanzimat reforms in 1839 г. did not have a guaranteed "мáка".[12] In 1545 Petrevene had 9 married and 4 unmarried Christian houses and 3 Christian widows, and 1 married and 1 unmarried Pomak houses, while in 1579 – 30 married and 17 unmarried Christian houses and 3 married and 3 unmarried Pomak houses.[10] In 1616 the troops of the Crimean-Tatar khan Mirza Tatar, which were included in the vanguard of the Ottoman army, have passed through the region. They used to burglarize and kidnap the local population, the Christian part of which escaped to the Karlukovo Canyon. During the second half of 17th century Pomaks from the region of Teteven began to move to the region of Lukovit. The Christian part of the local population has escaped again to the Karlukovo Canyon. In 1690-s the troops of another Crimean-Tatar khan, Selim Giray, which were included in the vanguard of the Ottoman army in its war against Austro-Hungary, also passed through the region on their way from Romania to Sofia via Pleven, Lovech, Yablanitza and Etropole

House in Petrevene, 19th century

The non-canonical Christian heresies (Paulicianism, Bogomilism, etc.) have survived in the region of Petrevene until the end of the 17th century, when dramatic religious events occurred. In 1689, for military reasons, the Ottoman authorities began to force Bulgarians - Christian heretics to convert to one of the officially recognized religions in the Ottoman Empire. This threw the local population into a huge crisis. One part of Bulgarian - Christian heretics converted reluctantly to the opposed and hated by them till then Eastern Orthodoxy and were incorporated into Bulgarian-Christian community, while the other part not less reluctantly converted to Islam and began to be called Pomaks, but were not incorporated into the ethnic Turkish community. So, Pomaks in the region became those of Bulgarians — Christian heretics, for which it was unacceptable or impossible to convert to the Eastern Orthodoxy because of dogmatic, economic, family or other reasons. Men started wearing chalmas, turbans, women — sharowars and covers. A village mosque was erected in the middle of Petrevene.[3] While Pomaks used to market-garden, Bulgarian-Christians mostly used to breed stock. Petrevene Pomaks used to have very melodic songs, which they accompanied by the music of "bulgarina". They had deep and emotional feelings towards the river, which they called "Altăn Paneg".[13] With the passage of time the names, as well as the beliefs of the Christian heretics (Paulicians, Bogomils, etc.) have disappeared and were forgotten.

At the end of the 18th century bands of Kirdzhalis, as well as of Hayduks of Angel voyvoda and Vălchan voyvoda, appeared in the region. At that time the "Dormition of the Theotokos" Karlukovo monastery [14][15] was in the Eparchy of St. Sofroniy Vrachanski, the well known Bulgarian Archbishop of Vratza, under the Constantinople Patriarchy. At Christmas of 1799 he found a cover from the Kirdzhalis in the monastery[16]

Funeral in Petrevene; the end of the 19th century

The relationship between the Christian and the Pomak parts of the population has been uneven. In 1820 the head of the Karlukovo monastery, Kalinik, has warned some of the local Pomaks to respect Christian part of the population, since some day Russians will come. After that some Pomaks from the region of Lovech have complained to the authorities that Kalinik was going to invite Russian troops in Bulgaria.[17][18] Actually, the word "pomak" appeared for the first time in written in connection with this incident.

At Christmas of 1871 through the region has passed the Bulgarian national hero and revolutionary Vasil Levski on his way from Glozhene and Zlatna Panega to Cherven Bryag and Telish during his second trip through Bulgaria.[19] The Secret Revolutionary Committee in Lukovit was founded by him during this trip.

During the late Ottoman period the Christian and the Pomak parts of the population have experienced a demographic boom. So, in 1873 Petrevene had 122 Christian houses with 414 men and 64 Pomak houses with 160 men.[10] A few among Bulgarian-Christians were craftsmen and grocers, settlers from the town of Teteven (old: Tetevene, Tetyuvene).[20] During the Russian-Turkish War of 1877/78 the Pomak part of the population in the region escaped temporarily to Macedonia, to come back after the end of the war.

After the restoration of the Bulgarian statehood (1878–1918)[edit]

The removal of the Ottoman rule in 1878 brought a mass migration to Petrevene of Eastern Orthodox Bulgarians from upper Balkan villages as Brusen and Vidrare with its hamlets of Smolevica, Kraeva Bachiya, etc. In 1882 Felix Kanitz wrote its name as Petreven.[21] It used to be written also as Petrevyane, Petryovene or Petrovene (Bulg.: Петрeвяне, Петрьовене, Петровене), still in use among locals nowadays. Since 1891 its official name is Petrevene.[22] It was included in the District of Pleven of the Principality of Bulgaria. The families Tonovski, Gergovski, Tzanovski, Stoevski, Velevski, Moldovanete, Dilovski, Nedkovski etc. are among the first ones in Petrevene after the removal of the Ottoman rule. Vidrarians favored growing cattle, while Brusenes - water buffaloes. This used to a reason for some frictions in the village. Initially, the marriages between the new generations of Bruseners and Vidrareans were banned for some time. Possibly this was because they came from different Christian dioceses.[3]

The municipality seal of the village of "Petryovene", 1890-s

The first mayor of Petrevene after the removal of the Ottoman rule was Tono Benchev Bakov (Peykin) of Vidrare, born in its hamlet of Smolevica. He used to be a member of the Revolutionaly Committee "Hasan Kasam" founded by Vasil Levski in the village of Vidrare in 1869. He has moved to Petrevene prior to the Russian-Turkish war (1877/78) due to a conflict he had with local Ottoman authorities in Vidrare. His brother-in-law, the revolutionary Yosif Poppetrov from Vidrare, also a member of the revolutionary committee of Vasil Levski, has been exiled by the Ottoman authorities to the town of Diarbekir in the Middle Asia, now in Turkey. This was due to his involvement with the robbery of the Ottoman Bank, mastered by Dimiter Obshti, in the Arabakonak pass in Bulgaria in 1872. Tono Benchev has served as a mayor of Petrevene for 16 years. He used to be close to Stefan Stambolov, a major co-revolutionary of Vasil Levski and the current Prime Minister of Bulgaria. He has visited him during his official trips in the Principality of Bulgaria. The first secretary in the village municipality was Tono Benchev' son, Bencho Tonov. In 1878 an elementary school (1st to 4th grade) opened in Petrevene. Till 1891 it was hosted in a former Pomak house, after which it moved to the then newly constructed "old" school, built by Stoyu Stanev of Petrevene. The village Municipality (Bulg.: obshtina) has moved to the vacated former schoolhouse. Andrey Gadzhovski of Lukovit, born in Dranchevo, Macedonia, and Marko Markov of Karlovo were the first teachers in Petrevene. The first native teacher, Velyu Ninov, was hired in 1896.[23] During the 1890s Petrevene was terrorized by the local band of the Bulgarian Yako voyvoda and his Pomak co-brigand Kachamachko.

Young men after taking part in the ritual of "koleduvane" on behalf of the Community Cultural Center "Probuda", 1930.

A mass exodus to Turkey by the Pomaks in the region started after the Unification of Bulgaria in 1885. They moved mostly to the regions of the cities Corlu in East Thrace and Hasanbey in Balikesir in Anatolia.[24] Their property and estates were thereby bought, transferred to, or abandoned and acquired by the remaining population.[3] A Pomak school opened briefly in the village of Blasnichevo to encourage Pomaks to remain in their locations. In 1893 only 22 Pomaks remained in Petrevene. The entire Pomak population left the village by 1898.[25][26] Several Italian quarry men settled in Petrevene at the beginning of the 20th century. They created, in particular, many skillful gravestones, still standing in the village cemetery.

Due to the rise of the anti-Islamism[26] and nationalism in post-Ottoman Bulgaria, the abandoned and decaying village mosque was removed in 1902. Its materials were recycled and used in the construction of the present-day Eastern Orthodox church of "Dormition of the Theotokos". It was built by Trǎn constructors in 1902 not far from the location of the former mosque[3] with the enthusiastic support of the locals. They donated money, icons and church appliances to it. The population of Petrevene was not affected harshly by the two World Wars. Only a few people fought and less than fifty lost their lives in the wars.[27] During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) Petrevene soldiers took part in the battle for the town of Chataldzha in East Trace, while during the First World War (1915-1918) - at the Macedonian Front. A humble monument devoted to the fallen villagers during the wars is erected in 2003 in the village center. During the Second Balkan War (1913) North Bulgaria was occupied briefly by the invading Romanian troops. In Petrevene they used to do search frequently houses and backyards hidden items.

Between the world wars (1918–1944)[edit]

Celebrating the first grape harvest at the Vine Cellar, Petrevene, 1940s

The opening of the local Community Cultural Center (Bulg.: chitalishte, "читалище") "Probuda",[3] i.e. Awakening, with a Public Library in 1918 has boosted the cultural development of Petrevene by. It was founded on the initiative of Yosif Benchev Tonov. It existed till 1923, but reopened again in 1927. A Middle School opened in 1921 with first Principal and founder Toma Yosifov Tonov and teachers Georgi Tomov Vulov and Petko Georgiev. The Agrarian Cooperative (Bulg.: Kooperaciya) "Zhetvarka", i.e. "Harvestwoman" (Bulg.: "Жетварка") with founder and the longest serving Director Toma Yosifov opened in 1922. An Obrok was erected near the village in 1923 which soon decayed and disappeared. During the coup of 1923 many members and supporters of the previously ruling Agrarian Union were prosecuted, arrested and fired from their jobs. In the 1930-s the people of Petrevene were involved in fierce conflict, even with fist fighting, with the neighboring village of Todorochene for farmland.

A wedding folk dance "horo" on the main square of Petrevene, 1940s

In 1927 the Agrarian Cooperative was renamed to Cooperative Bank "Zhetvarka", with Toma Yosifov as a Director (till 1962) and Todor Dikov as a Chairman. On the initiative of Toma Yosifov, in 1937 the Cooperative Bank has build the modern for the time vine cellar, industrial incubator with a chicken nursery, the best in the Balkans for the time, dairy farm, chiken farm, cattle farm, pig farm, sheep farm, consumer stores, bakery store, cooperative vineyard, orchard garden, cooperative farmlands of 400 dka and a manufacturing plant "Mashina".[28] In 1934 Petrevene had 1209 people, living in 350 houses, five of them Gipsy. At that time Petrevene used to have several mills, restaurants, stores, bars, and manufactures of painters, shoemakers, iron-smiths and carpenters.

The Cooperative Bank "Zhetvarka" has owned the famous painting "Zhetvarka" by the celebrated Bulgarian artist Vladimir Dimitrov - Maystora, now at the National Art Gallery in Sofia. The membership of the Cooperative Bank has reached 923 people from Petrevene, the surrounding villages of Rumyancevo (former Blăsnichevo), Zlatna Panega, Todorichene, Belentzi, Karlukovo, Dăben, Oreshene, and also from other places like Sofia, Plovdiv etc.

The "new" school (now closed)

The Cooperative vine cellar used to manufacture the grapes also of the surrounding villages Todorichene, Belenci and Karlukovo, and has exported its vine even to Germany. In 1942 Petrevene won the title of an "Exemplary Village of the Kingdom of Bulgaria". The "Bateriya" plant from Sofia, as well as many Sofia inhabitants, were evacuated to Petrevene after the Anglo-American bombardments of Sofia in 1943-1944 during the Second World War. At that time the local entrepreneur Nako Pavlov opened a plant for producing plumber parts, ovens etc. During the events of September 1944 many members and supporters of the previous government were prosecuted, arrested and fired from their jobs.

The Socialist period (1944–1989)[edit]

After the Second World War Petrevene was included in the Lovech District of P. R. Bulgaria. In 1946 it had 1254 inhabitants. In 1948, during the communist rule in Bulgaria, a compulsory collectivization of the farmlands was imposed[29] and a Collective Farm, TKZS (Bulg.: "ТКЗС") was established with Ivan Lakov as its first chairman. Petrevene's farmlands became collectively farmed and managed, and its agricultural capacity increased and became modernized.[30] Twenty percent of the fields were allotted to the villagers for their own personal cultivation, but they were still required to work in the TKZS[31] on the main fields. A system was set up where every farmer was entitled to four tons of wheat for personal consumption per year. Four tons being too much to consume or use, the farmers were then encouraged to return two tons to the newly built TKZS bakery in exchange for coupons entitling them to two loafs of black and one loaf of white bread a day.[31] A manufacturing plant (called the "Promkombinat") was founded by the Cooperative Bank "Zhetvarka". In 1950 the Bank was renamed as All-purpose Cooperative "Zhetvarka". The "Promkombinat" has employed 100 people. In 1955 it produced 2572 ovens of "Pernik" style. In 1956 by the order of the local authorities and despite the disagreement and the resistance of the local population, the "Promkombinat" has been closed. Its equipment and machinery were moved to the town of Lukovit. The reason for this action has been to increase the number of the people working in the TKZS. In fact, most of the employees in the "Promkombinat", together with their families, moved away from the village to other localities in the region, instead of enrolling in the TKZS. The population of Petrevene in 1956 was 1183 people.

The railroad from the town of Cherven Bryag to the cement factory "Zlatna Panega" was arranged and designed to pass through Lukovit and Petrevene in 1965 by the Petrevene native, Engineer Vasil Tonev of Sofia, Chairman of the Division for New Railroads in Bulgaria. A new rail stop was built not far from the village (now defunct). As in the whole surrounding region, Roma people, often referred to as Gypsies, were settled in Petrevene in the 1960s. Their arrival extended the functioning of the school, which had experienced at the time enrollment decline as more inhabitants had left Petrevene for urban areas.

After the democratic changes (1989–present)[edit]

The road E-83 passing through Petrevene

After the democratic changes of 1989 in Bulgaria Petrevene has remained within the Lovech District of the Republic of Bulgaria. The TKZS was closed (unlike other nearby villages which have kept theirs and privatized them), and became derelict. Petrevene's agricultural output and capacity were reduced severely. The collectivized farmfields were then divided as they were prior to the collectivization and returned to their original owners or their heirs. However, many villagers chose to retire and became state retirees, instead of making their living on the farmlands.

Dulǎt after earlier heavy floods in 2005

During post-communist Bulgaria many young Petrevene families moved to larger cities to seek better employment opportunities. As a result, many farmfields and vineyards that had previously dominated the landscape became abandoned and uncultivated, and the village's population shrank rapidly. Additionally due the economic crisis that followed,[32] and very low state pensions many owners were unable to afford the upkeep of their homes and many houses fell into disrepair.[33]

A new obrok at the location of the previous one has been erected in 2012. A group for folklore songs 'Petrevchanka' has been founded at the Community CulturalCenter Ivan Stefanov-1918.[34] In 2011 Petrevene had 598 inhabitants.

Recently, with Bulgaria's overall economic growth, Petrevene has experienced a revival as well as re-cultivation of many farmlands. Additionally increased incomes mean that many people could afford to improve their homes. There have also been several commercial developments spurred by a competent administration, including the establishment of a new bakery, Lazarov Commers,[35] and a motorbike rally. In August 2005, as well as the rest of Bulgaria,[36] Petrevene experienced heavy flooding. As a result, the drainage canal and the river tributary Dulǎt was widened, dredged and in more central areas covered over in concrete blocks to protect from erosion and to ease future floods. This was achieved by using money from the EU Solidarity Fund which at the time had allocated 106 million euros to aide the crisis.[37]

After Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 some villagers were able to benefit from the SAPARD program for agricultural and rural development, and as of April 2009 some parts of the TKZS have been restored to working order. Furthermore, the Dulǎt tributary now has two new bridges across it, both built in 2008.

Culture and traditions[edit]

A 110-year-old building, recently renovated by the owner. It is a good example of the large amount of historically well preserved but under threat houses in the village

With the massive collectivization of 1956, the village became an agricultural community. Besides the Eastern Orthodox Church of "Dormition of the Theotokos" and the Community Cultural Center with Library "Ivan Stefanov-1918", Petrevene harbors many historical buildings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with some buildings dating as far back as the 18th century. However many of these buildings are now decrepit and derelict as the village population shrunk heavily during the post-communist era, with many owners either moving to larger cities and leaving their land behind, or simply dying out due to old age and leaving their property to descendants who were unwilling or unable to maintain it.

Watermelon Day[edit]

Watermelon Day fest: A local band performs traditional folk songs

Watermelon Day is a popular annual festivity in Petrevene which is celebrated every year on the penultimate Saturday of August.[3] It was first held in 1936 and it is a popular belief within the village that it started off as a regional land dispute between Petrevene and the nearby village of Todorichene.[2] The legend, according to the local people, is that several bad harvests had impelled the Petrevenians to place claims on lands of Todorichene. To settle the dispute that followed a regional judge was brought in from Pleven to settle the matter. He declared that everyone should be assigned 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi) of land. With the lack of wheat the Petrevenians decided to plant watermelon instead. With no market for them, however, the younger men of the village decided to collect all the watermelons and store them in the schoolhouse and let anyone eat as much as they want for free, but on the condition that they would first see the caricaturist Nicola Velev's exhibition in the library.[2] Although popular, the story has little historical merit. Although there have been records of Watermelon Day going as far back as 1936, no existing records tell of bad harvests in the years prior to that date or, of the above-mentioned land divisions.[38]


See also History

Dormition of the Theotokos Church in Petrevene, built in 1902

The present day Eastern Orthodox church of "Dormition of the Theotokos" was built in 1902. In 2009 the church, (having fallen into disrepair), underwent an extensive renovation, funded by the Ministry of Disasters and Accidents, (now known as the Ministry of Emergency Situations), with total of €104,000 being released to the local government.[39] The village obrok (Bulgarian: оброк) was also restored in 2009.[40] The Obrok was a holy Christian site, used in the past as a meeting point for the village elder to congregate. It is located at one of the highest points surrounding the village, so as to have been as close to God as possible. The original obrok was first erected in 1923, and was made of stone.[40] The new obrok is constructed from steel except for the structure's bell which is made from copper and was the village's church's original bell.

Art gallery[edit]

A limestone memorial to Petrevene's casualties in the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Balkan Wars, was unveiled on August 23, 2003. It lists the 26 citizens of Petrevene who lost their lives between 1912 and 1945.[27]

A 2008 National Academy of Arts incentive[41] has seen the introduction of two new sculptures to Petrevene at the two ends of the village along the road E83 Sofia-Pleven. They were designed and constructed by two students of the academy, Ivan Stoyanov and Valko Bekirski.[41]

Notable persons[edit]

  • Tono Benchev Bakov (1835–1911) - Member of the Vidrare Revolutionary Committee founded by Vasil Levski in 1869, the first mayor of Petrevene after the restoration of the Bulgarian Statehood (1878–1894).
  • Toma Yosifov (1897–1963) - Founder of the Chicken Farmers Union in Bulgaria and of the Bulgarian Agrarian Youth Union (Bulg.: ЗМС) in the region.
  • Yosif Benchev (1895–1973) - Founder and Leader of the Union of the Bulgarian Front-Fighters (1918–1944) (founded in 1931 in Pleven, closed by the authorities in 1934, reopened in 1944, finally closed in 1948), exiled in 1948 to Petrevene
  • Vasil Kolev (Michmana), b. 1904 - Political émigré in the USSR, who was persecuted and disappeared there; rehabilitated in 1956
  • Eng. Vasil Tonev (1906–1991) - Chairman of the Division for New Railroad Lines in Bulgaria, one of the designers and creators of the contemporary railroad system in Bulgaria
  • Radoslav Radulov (Tzuri) (1931–2000) - Travel Representative (Attache) at the Embassies of Bulgaria in Belgium and Canada

Document gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Petrevene Map — Satellite Images of Petrevene". Maplandia (Google World Maps Gazetteer) website. 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  2. ^ a b c "Село Петревене". Village of Petrevene website (in Bulgarian). 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "About—Village of Petrevene". Village of Petrevene website. Village of Petrevene. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  4. ^ "Geopark Iskar-Panega". Geopark Iskar Panega website. 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11.
  5. ^ "Property description and info on village". My Bulgaria Ltd website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  6. ^ a b c d "Description of fauna of area". Geopark Iskar Panega website. 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  7. ^ a b c "Description of flora of area". Geopark Iskar Panega website. 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  8. ^ "Culture—Village of Petrevene". Village of Petrevene website. Village of Petrevene. 2008.
  9. ^ "Gozler, Kemal. Map of the region of Mramornica".
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Gozler, Kemal. Les villages pomaks de Lovca. Publishing House of the Turkish Historical Society, Ankara, 2001," (PDF).
  11. ^ Bulgarian Etymological Dictionary, Sofia
  12. ^ Мантран, Робер. История на Османската империя. Рива. pp. 472–535. ISBN 978-954-320-369-7.
  13. ^ Hinchev, Georgi. Life near Zlatna Panega, GMR, Sofia, 1999
  14. ^ "The monastery "Dormition of the Theotokos" near Karlukovo".
  15. ^ "The interior of the monastery "Dormition of the Theotokos" near Karlukovo".
  16. ^ "Sofroniy Vrachanski. Zhitie i stradanie greshnago Sofroniya".
  17. ^ P. Mutafchiev, Around our Balkan monasteries, Proceedings BAN, 1931, p. 89
  18. ^ V. Mikov, Bulgarian Mohammedans in the regions of Teteven, Lukovit and Byala Slatina, Rodina, 1941, 51-68
  19. ^ "Levski, Vasil. Notebook. Nauka i Izkustvo, Sofia, 1987, p. 67,". Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
  20. ^ Panchev, Ivan, Zlatna Panega, Lukovit, 1938 and 1993
  21. ^ Felix Kanitz Donau-Bulgarien und der Balkan" (Danubian Bulgaria and the Balkans). Three volumes. Leipzig (1882)
  22. ^ "Petrevne (BU32) Bulgaria Geography Population Map cities coordinates location -". Tageo WorldWide Index website. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  23. ^ Meeting of the older generation with the younger one, Talk at the Meeting of various generations in Petrevene, 1967
  24. ^ A. Popovic, "Pomaks", in Encyclopaedia of Islam
  25. ^ Miletich, Lyubomir. The Lovech Pomaks, Sofia, 1899
  26. ^ a b Raichevsky, Stoyan (2004). The Mohammedan Bulgarians (Pomaks). Maya Pencheva (trans.). Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarian Bestseller — National Museum of Bulgarian Books and Polygraphy. ISBN 954-9308-41-3.
  27. ^ a b From Monument to Those Who Lost Their Lives Protecting the Motherland, Petrevene's main square
  28. ^ Hinchev, Georgi. The roots lighten (in three rivers, eleven villages and one town), IK "Orbel", Sofia, 2011
  29. ^ "Yugoslav Bulletin on "Mass Collectivization" in Bulgaria". Stankovic. 1957. Retrieved 2009-08-25.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Collectivization in Bulgaria". 1957. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  31. ^ a b Jordan Nikolov, now pensioned, ex-worker
  32. ^ William Marsteller. "The Economy". Bulgaria country study (Glenn E. Curtis, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (June 1992).
  33. ^ Илков, Атанас; Колев, Иван (2005-10-05). "Перверзиите на българския пенсионен модел". Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  34. ^ "The group 'Petrevchanka'".
  35. ^ "Bread and Baked Goods in city Petrevene - page 1 Golden Pages". Golden Pages website. 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  36. ^ "Floods in Bulgaria July 2006". Helmholtz-eos website. 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  37. ^ "Solidarity Fund: 106 million euro for 2005 floods in Bulgaria, Romania and Austria". European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-26.[dead link]
  38. ^ Nikolai Aleksandrov Ivanov
  39. ^ "Какво ново? - село Петревене". Village of Petrevene website. 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  40. ^ a b "Село Петревене, (Възстановяване на оброк), (in bulgarian)". Village of Petrevene website. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  41. ^ a b "Culture Petrevene". Petrevene website. 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-13.

External links[edit]

  1. Official village website, run by the Municipality of Lukovit.
  4. Online edition of Vasil Levski's personal notebook (in Bulgarian)