The Bulgarian village of Bozhentsi is an architectural treasure in the Gabrovo Province, in central northern Bulgaria.
The village is situated in a small valley of the Central Balkan Mountains and is noted for its well-preserved Bulgarian National Revival architecture, a period of reawakening and strengthening of the Bulgarian culture after becoming part of the Ottoman empire during the 15th century.
History of Bozhentsi
Bozhentsi emerged in the 16th century, after residents of the former Bulgarian capital, Veliko Tarnovo, retreated from attacks by the Ottoman Turks to the remote and secure parts of the mountainous regions in central Bulgaria.
It gradually became an economic, administrative, religious, cultural and educational centre for the surrounding villages in the middle of the 18th century, as it was situated at an important trade road junction crossing the Balkan Range.
What to do in Bozhentsi
Main products found in the area were leather, wool, beeswax and honey. In 1964 it was proclaimed an architectural and historical reserve and ensuing strict construction control has helped in preserving its unique style.
Main architectural characteristics are two storey houses the first floor normally being used as a cattle pen, while the inhabitants would be residing on the second floor – with wooden verandas, stone-plate roofs, corner fireplaces, ceiling woodcarvings and cobblestoned streets, indicating the wealth of the inhabitants settling there in the 16th century.
In 1835, the St. Elijah basilica was built which is an extraordinary example of the National Revival style, remarkable because of the belfry, which was normally strictly forbidden by the Ottoman authorities .
Around 100 of the houses are still left today and are housing workshops, traditional mehanas (restaurants with traditional food, decoration and music) and tourist accommodation.
Even older monuments are found in the region. There is a Roman bridge east of Bozhentsi and the village is also situated close to one of the nine Bulgarian UNESCO world heritage sites, the Thracian tomb of Kazanlak, which is part of a large Thracian necropolis, manifesting the historical importance of the region.