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GOTSE DELCHEV

Gotse Delchev is situated in the valley of the Mesta River, on both banks of an eastern tributary, the Nevrokopska, just 22 km from the border of Bulgaria with Greece.
The Thracian period of its past is connected with the Maedi tribe. Close to the spot where present-day Gotse Delchev stands, Alexander the Great founded a city and gave it his name - Alexandropolis. Later, the Roman emperor, Trajanus, built a settlement by the name of Nicopolis ad Nestum on the left bank of the Mesta in honor of his victory over the Dacians; this settlement became an important crossroads connecting the ancient cities of the Aegean Sea with the valley of the Hebros (Maritsa) River. During the 17th century a settlement known as Nevrokup is mentioned as being situated on this site, but official information about it exist since the 9-10th century. During the Ottoman rule, the town was a centre for craftsmen, renowned for the production of chanove (bells, chimes). Saddle-making (especially for pack animals like horses and donkeys - the main means of transport in those times), tanning and gold-working were also well-developed crafts. In Nevrokop, as the town was known by that time, people constructed churches, schools (religious, secular, boys' and girls'), and cultural clubs. Its final liberation from foreign oppression came during the Balkan War (1912).

LANDMARKS
• The Town Historical Museum, which is situated in a house that is an architectural monument, built in 1879.
• The National-Revival era architectural complex of Rifat Bey.
• The Holy Virgin's (1833) and St. Archangel Michael's churches.
• The private ethnographic collection of Zafir Kanchev.
• A 500-year-old Eastern Sycamore (a.k.a. American planetree or Buttonwood) with a trunk diameter of 7.6 meters (almost 25 feet) and a height of 24 meters (nearly 80 feet), a natural landmark.
• Remains of the ancient Roman city of Nicopolis ad Nestum (8 km northeast of the town).
• The unique historical reserve of Kovachevitsa. The founding of the village is linked to the Muslimization of the Bulgarian populace during 1623-1625 and 1656. when people left their birthplaces, fleeing from the Turkish excesses. In Kovachevitsa they discovered beautiful scenery, an inaccessible mountain, plentiful water and lush pastures. The refugees formed their neighbourhoods according to birthplace -Tarnovska - of those from Tarnovo, and a century later, during a second wave of emigration - Arnautska of the Albanians. Those from Tarnovo were skilled farmers and stockbreeders, and the Albanians -master builders. Proof of their skills is in the varied architectural ensemble of the village. The slate-covered stone houses, piled one on top of another, resemble fortresses with their high walls and fences. Large groups of local builders traveled to distant sites in Thrace and near the Aegean Sea each year from St. George's Day (Gergyovden, May 6 according to the Eastern Orthodox Church calendar) to St. Demetrius' Day (Dimirtovden, October 26). The Kovachevitsa Builders' School became well-known, and the craftsmen even created their own secret language in the second half of the 19th century in order to protect the secrets of their craft from others. The natural decor and the incredible atmosphere have brought Kovachevitsa the nickname "the Bulgarian Hollywood". Approximately 20 indigenous Bulgarian films have been shot here. Many artistic people have found an ideal haven for recreation and creativity in this unique village. The famous Bulgarian author, Georgi Danailov, in his book House beyond the World, made the following remarks upon seeing Kovachevitsa for the first time: "It is as if the Lord took the houses in His hands and slid them down the slope..." Because of the growing interest of people in this place many of the old houses have been turned into hotels, which offer an original home-cooked cuisine: these hotels are Bayateva kashta, Daskalova kashta, Zhecheva kashta, Kapsazova kashta, Milcheva kashta and Spasova kashta.

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