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Specialized Ethnographic Museum

The varied ethnographic heritage of the Elhovo municipality and the whole Strandzha-Sakar region is studied, stored and popularized by the Specialized Ethnographic Museum - Elhovo. Founded in 1958, the museum has one of the most interesting ethnographic exhibitions in Bulgaria (open in 1971). The museum stores over 20100 exhibits, 13700 of which make up the main museum stock, distributed into the following departments: Farming; Transport, Hunting and Fishing; Clothes and Ornaments; Cloths and Embroidery; The House and Its Interior; Traditional Crafts; and Spiritual Culture, Customs and Folklore. The stock also includes A documental archive and a photographical archive, which store over 8000 authentic documents and photographs connected with the development of the region from the National Liberation in 1878 to the present.

The museum is housed in tow one-storey buildings in the town centre, built in 1933, united into one building, functionally and architecturally adapted to its needs, in the sixties.

The museum exhibition is exhibited on an area of 244 sq. m in four halls, and its actually ethnographic part is preceded by a short introduction about the historical past of Elhovo.

The first hall shows the main livelihoods of the population at the end of c. 19 and the beginning of c. 20: agriculture, vine-growing, tobacco-growing, stockbreeding, hunting and fishing, and also some traditional crafts: coppersmith's trade and tailoring. It also shows the transport and the vehicles.

The second hall acquaints the visitors with a house - and its interior - from the end of c.19 and the beginning of c. 20, included into the exhibition in its original size and building technique.

The third hall exhibits the traditional clothes of the population of Southeast Bulgaria of the same period - children's, women's and men's; everyday and holiday clothes. The women's folk costumes are especially impressive - the so-called Elhovo sleeveless-dress costumes, which were very popular in their older and newer version up to the nineteen-sixties.

The third hall also exhibits the traditional clothes of the Bulgaria refugees from Odrin and Aegean Thrace and Aegean Macedonia with their unique make and style.

The fourth hall is allotted to some traditional holidays and customs, such as weddings; mummers' shows; Christmas and St. Lazarus' Day customs are shown by means of their specific requisite and clothing, and also a rich photographical collection.

Samples of c. 19 fretwork and iconography  - the distinctive work of local masters - are exhibited at the end of the exhibition area.

About 16000 visitors, including about 300 foreigners, pass through the exhibition halls every year.

The museum also has a separate exhibition hall with an area of over 100 sq. m, where various exhibition popularizing the museum stock are periodically organized. The current exhibition is The Archaeological Heritage of the Elhovo Region, showing part of the interesting archaeological collection of the museum.

Several thematic collections are exhibited: the settlement life along the Lower Toundzha River in prehistory, Antiquity and the Middle Ages; weapons; fortifications; numismatics; epigraphic monuments; monuments connected with religion of various eras; ornaments; pottery; moments of archaeological research in the Elhovo municipality.

The Ethnographic Museum - Elhovo officially became one of the 100 National Tourist Object under number 100 in 2003.

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