Centre of the April uprising

Although it was aside from the large roads in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the Panagyurishte region passed through its early historical road of development. The archaeological monuments in the environs of the town testify to its ancient past. Dozens of burial mounds have remained since the time of the Thracian tribes which had inhabited these lands.

The town of Panagyurishte itself was founded in the dramatic times after the Ottoman invasion on the Balkans - at the end of c. 15. The town took its name from the small fair which took place on the river bank (panagyur is a word for "market" in the southwestern Bulgarian dialects).

Panagyurishte received the official statute of a soldiers' settlement with a decree of the Sultan during the Ottoman rule. This brought a series of privileges - the right of a partial autonomy, exemption from some taxes, etc., which helped for the preservation of the Bulgarian national consciousness and the freedom-loving spirit of its inhabitants.

The town experienced a rapid economic and spiritual advance in the beginning of c. 19.

Numerous crafts developed on the basis of the population's traditional occupation - stock-breeding.

A large two-storey building for the boys' school was erected with the efforts of the whole population in 1839, and the building of the girls' school was built in 1843. People with a high for their time education taught there. Among the teachers in Panagyurishte were Marin Drinov - the founder of the Bulgarian historical science, one of the founders and the first president of the Bulgarian Academy of Science; and Nesho Bonchev - the first Bulgarian literary critic. The headmistress of the girls' school was the 20-year-old Bulgarian national heroine Raina Popgeorgieva. There was a library in the boys' school with 2 000 volumes of Bulgarian and foreign books, among which there were medieval manuscripts on paper or parchment.

In this atmosphere of economic and spiritual advance, the idea of national liberation received a whole-hearted welcome in Panagyurishte as early as Vassil Levski - the Apostle of the Bulgarian Freedom - laid the foundations of a revolutionary organization. In the autumn of 1870, he founded a secret committee in the town.

In the spring of 1876, the revolutionary leaders Georgi Benkovski and Panayot Volov came to Panagyurishte to make the town the centre of IV Revolutionary District. Together with the local revolutionaries, led by Pavel Bobekov, they started feverish preparations, which affirmed the town as the centre of the future uprising.

The culmination in its preparation is the historic assembly in Obrochiste. 8 km westwards of Panagyurishte, the delegates of the Bulgarian people gathered to express its unhesitant will for freedom.

The town paid a high price for the freedom of Bulgaria. hundreds of people were killed during the April Uprising, the whole marked street with over 100 shops was burnt down, 400 of the more representative buildings were also burnt down, including the churches and the schools.

The crushing of the uprising did not destroy the patriotic spirit of the inhabitants of Panagyurishte. The town again took part in the following fateful events for Bulgaria - the Union of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Roumelia. On 2 September 1885, its inhabitants were the first to wave the flag of the Union and to organize a revolutionary action for the overthrow the Roumelian authorities.

Panagyurishte also gave its victims in the wars for the defence of Bulgaria (1912-1918 and 1944-1954). 387 military officers, sergeants and soldiers were killed on the battlefields.

After its heavy material and human losses and the loss of its markets, the town started its difficult revival after the National Liberation.

The town's first concern was the restoration of the churches as a spiritual support to the citizens, whose patriotic spirit was the guarantee for the future prosperity of Panagyurishte. The modern town acquired the marks and the contradictions of the twentieth century, in whose last quarter the town took its present shape - with a lot of voluntary labour and with the assistance of the Bulgarian state as a tribute to the region's contributions to the Bulgarian history.






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