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2 500 year old history

An ore-mining mechanic hammer and ore-mining pliers
An ore-mining mechanic hammer and ore-mining pliers
Belt clasps and a belt, made by local masters
Belt clasps and a belt, made by local masters

It was founded in c. 7-6 BC. Its first settlers were Thracians. The settlement was situated at important crossroads connecting the Danube with Macedonia and Thrace, near two important passes in the Balkan Mountain. The troops of Philip II of Macedon (339 BC), Alexander the Great (335 BC), the Celtic tribes and the Roman legions passed through the hollow.

The location and the natural conditions of the region has favoured the economic development and commerce since the earliest times. The archaeological evidence - Macedon and Greek coins, samples of Greek ceramics, luxury objects and finery, show an early establishment of commercial relations with remote markets - Phoenicia and Egypt.

In c. 14-17 AD, the town developed as an important ore-mining and crafts centre. Iron, copper, gold and silver were extracted.

Experienced Saxon ore-miners settled here in c. 17, who introduced a new technology in oremining - the mechanic hammers.

The working of the ore deposits stimulated the rapid development of a number of crafts connected with metal working - blacksmithing, coppersmithing, cutlery, goldsmithing and gunsmithing.

Shoemaking, pottery, braid-making, leather and fur working, goat's hair weaving, charcoal-burning, fuller's trade and many other crafts were well-developed. According to archive data from 1820, 42 crafts were listed in Etropole.

The crafts and commercial relations of the town were chiefly with the towns of Plovdiv, Pleven, Sofia, Svishtov, Lovech, etc. Goods were exported for Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, Alexandria, Odrin, Bucharest, Bitola, Russia, Austro-Hungary, Macedonia.

The economic progress of the settlement brought forth conditions for the development of education and literature. The Etropole School of Literature and Calligraphy was founded in c. 16-17 in the Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) Monastery, also called Varovitets, situated in a picturesque area about 5 km southeast of the town. Biblical or liturgical literature was copied there with an original style of letter-drawing and decoration 76 volumes of manuscripts are still preserved - invaluable documents of the treasure of Bulgarian literature.

A cell school was founded in the monastery in 1613. By the end of c. 18,  such schools were founded in the town, in the churches and cloisters of the Rila, Zograph, Glozhen and Cherepish monasteries. A public cell school was founded in Etropole in 1811.

A new school building was built in 1828-1830. The Etropole leaders - merchants and craftsmen - built a boys' and a girls' secondary schools, beautiful residential and economic buildings; and contributed to the enlargement and development of the town.

Todor Peev (1842-1904) - a teacher, revolutionary, man of letters and journalist, one of the renowned figures of the National Revival, made a serious contribution to the development of education in Etropole.

A revolutionary committee against the Ottoman oppression was founded in 1870 with the personal participation of the all-national revolutionary leader Vassil Levski (one of the greatest Bulgarian national heroes).

The advance detachment of the Russian General Gurko liberated the town on 24.11.1877 and the winter passage of the Balkan was led from here for 40 days.

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