Koprivshtitsa : Beauty and Revolution
Koprivshtitsa Travel Blog› entry 176 of 268 › view all entries
Koprivshtitsa. A quiet little rural town just over 100 kilometres east of Sofia snuggled into the bosom of the Sredna Gora mountains. A quiet little town I am utterly incapable of pronouncing correctly judging by both my verbal wrangles in attempting to do so and the bemused responses consequent to my stammering attempts. Koprivshtitsa means ‘nettle’ in Bulgarian which in its own small way is appropriate to the historic character of the town, but a little more of that later.
Today I am in the company of my latest FMF (Five Minute Friend) Tetsuo from Japan whose grandmother was born the day the Titanic sank (April 14th 1912) and at the ripe old age of 97 no longer recognises him or anyone else “because she is insane“ he says.
And really pretty Koprav… Coprivshit… Kopravshtish… Kopshticksa… “darn it!”… really pretty this place is too! It is a town that sits in perfect harmony with its calm, calm surroundings.
Six of the towns most well-preserved, and most historically significant examples of traditional Bulgarian architecture ( referred to as the ‘Bulgarian National Revival’ style) can be visited and entered for a small fee [see info below] and so Tetsuo and I set to strolling around this idyllic town in happiness and a sunshine state of awe. It is through ambling around these ‘House Museums’ that one is introduced to a little of the towns more famous inhabitants and history (only a little though owing to marginal English translations for non-natives) and its significance in the Bulgarian Independence movement. The long running struggle for freedom from Ottoman rule that would not end until the Russo-Turkish war of 1877- ‘78 and in which Koprivshtitsa played its own small little role.
For it was here in April 1876 that the first shot was fired in the ‘April Uprising’ against the Turks. An action long planned by the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee but initiated too soon, and so disorganised and successfully quashed by the Turks with the taking of the life, amongst others, of one of Koprivshtitsa’s most famous inhabitants, the revolutionary Georgi Benkovski whose house can be visited here. The ‘First Shot Fired Bridge’ can be found.
Also the house of Todor Kableshkov, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee in Koprivshtitsa, he who ordered the start of the ‘Uprising’ and co-authored the ’Bloodsigned Letter’ a document which I have been able to locate no information on but assume was some sort of written statement of intent (in blood?) to the Turkish rulers along the lines of ’Would you please kindly bugger off and leave us to our own devices… or suffer the consequences.
But all is calm today. No need for revolution anymore. Everything returned long ago to natures rhythms. Stood in the sun in the garden of the former home of the Bulgarian poet Dimcho Debelianov I am waiting for Tetsuo and stroll into the middle of its green lawn. I crouch down. The summer-fresh grasses criss-cross and interlace with small purple and white flowers. Occasionally a butter-yellow bloom punctuates the green carpet too. Not knowing how to name any of these flowers I am frustrated at my lack of ability to describe the nature about me.
Crouching there I instinctively run my fingers through the lawns grass tresses. The memory, the image of this gesture now feels like such a cliché but it’s an act of unconscious need at the time.
After our house tour I bid farewell to Tetsuo who must return to Sofia sharpish to keep his Missus happy but I am content to stroll for some hours more in this wonderful little rural scene even if the weather is closing in a little. I am totally seduced by the wonderful pastel painted shades of the plaster walls and wooden trim exteriors of the houses here. Bright blues, brick reds and rustic ochre yellows with white-bordered windows. The gorgeous Uspenie Bogorodichno Church with the frail old lady custodian watching within and the ticking pendulum clock on the wall inside which makes it feel more like a home than a church which I like and I am curiously near prompted to tears by the sheer gentility of the scene.
A delicious, cheap lunch of traditional mince and herb-stuffed, boiled cabbage leafs and large breaded, fried sheep’s cheeses and coffee.
I’d love to stay here longer. To catch a later bus back. But the rain tricks me into thinking its settling for the duration so I head back to Sofia suffused with happiness at having been to this pretty little town that I remain incapable of pronouncing to this day.
[ Koprivshtitsa info : Buses leave approx every 2 hours from 8.00am onwards from ‘Trafik Market’ (Traffic Market) which is basically a large tarmac car park and collection of travel agent booths situated exactly between Sofia main train station and bus station so is easy to locate. You pay when on the bus. 10 Leva (£4.30) and the journey takes about 3 hours. It will cost the same again to come back. Return buses leave to return from where you were dropped off at 13.