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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Oborishte historical area

April 15 - 17, summer 1876 -

first Bulgarian Grand National Assembly

Oborishte historical area

The meeting convened on these dates was by decision of the Giurgiu Revolutionary Committee. The goal - clarifying the issues related to the progress of the preparations for the April Uprising.

The initial idea was to hold the meeting in Panagyurishte, but due to the danger of disclosure, it was decided to hold it in some secret place.

Oborishte historical area

Dimitar Koklev, a trusted friend of Benkovski and chairman of the revolutionary committee in the village of Mechka (today Oborishte), together with Petar Grebchev, went around sheltered places and pointed out the Oborishte mountain valley hidden deep in the bosom of Sštinska Sredna Gora, which was approved.

Oborishte historical area

The deputies began to arrive on April 9 and 10, 1876. They were accommodated in the home of Nayden Drinov and the co-conspirators. At night, successively in groups - secretly and covertly, they were taken to Oborishte, where Volov and Ikonomov from April 12 started organizing the guards, food and overnight stays for the delegates.

Benkovski arrives on April 13-14. The meeting began on the 14th and closed the same evening under storm and rain. A committee was elected, which met from April 15 to April 17.

The meeting was opened with a speech by Volov, followed by a speech by Benkovski, who raised the question of whether the apostles should be empowered to raise an uprising and decide the fate of the population.

A fierce dispute flares up, but the development of the April Uprising shows the correctness of Benkovski's request.

When this matter is resolved, the deputies take the oath after the prayer of Pope Grujo Banski. All deputies unanimously decided to have an uprising in the spring of the summer of 1876. The nature of the insurgent actions is discussed and the prevailing view is that there is a general uprising in all the centers of Western Thrace. The question of the date of the uprising is also discussed, with everyone agreeing on the date May 1, summer 1876.

In history, there are several versions regarding the number of representatives who took part in the Oborishte assembly.

According to foreign documents for the April Uprising, the number of representatives was 300 people.

Zahariy Stoyanov in some places gives them 350, and many more together with the guard and others present at the meeting. From this it can be concluded that the meeting was attended by many revolutionary activists, who were not regular delegates, but the total number hardly exceeded 150 people.

Toma Georgiev, Benkovski's first secretary and a participant in the assembly, wrote in his "Brief History of the Srednogorsk Uprising" (1901) that there were a total of 400 people present, and 80 representatives.

Nikola Belovezhdov, based on the information given to him in prison by the delegate Todor Dushantsalia (from the village of Dushantsi), wrote in his book "The First Rifle" that 108 representatives were gathered in Oborishte.

Zahariy Stoyanov himself claims in "Records of the Bulgarian Uprisings" that there was a list of representatives that was kept by Benkovski's second secretary - Todor Belopitov. After his death the document fell into Turkish hands, and was probably lost and therefore not published, as was the case with some other captured documents. Zahariy Stoyanov claims that he used exactly this Turkish list when compiling his own, which lists 56 representatives from 50 settlements of the 4th revolutionary district.

In "History of the April Uprising" (1907), Dimitar Strashimirov claims that Zahariy Stoyanov invented the Turkish list. Strashimirov does not find information about such a list in the English Blue Book, where it is indicated that the number of representatives is 300. However, he admits that Zahariy Stoyanov's list is correct, and it is the basis of Strashimirov's own list, where 65 are indicated delegates from 58 settlements.

Another list of oborishtenci is in "Principality of Bulgaria" by Georgi Dimitrov. It lists 55 representatives from 49 settlements, which are almost completely covered by the data of Zahariy Stoyanov.

In addition to these lists, there are several others that, however, copy or use to a large extent the data from those listed. One of them is kept in the archive of Stefan Shishkov in the ODA - Plovdiv and it contains names of representatives who are included in Zahariy Stoyanov's list. The other is by Georgi Danov in the "Oborishte" brochure, which lists 68 delegates from 52 settlements and which was apparently compiled based on the lists of Zahariy Stoyanov and Dimitar Strashimirov.

In the first detailed study of the composition of the assembly - "Oborishtenci" (1972), the names of 64 representatives from 54 settlements of the 4th revolutionary district are indicated.

Benkovski strictly insisted that the representatives have regularly issued and signed powers of attorney from the local revolutionary committees.

According to Zahariy Stoyanov, there were many deputies whom Benkovski returned to Panagyurishte and Banya, because their credentials were illegal. This is how the Karlovian representative and chairman of the local committee, Vasil Platnarov, and Spas Ginev, from Perušće, were returned, and Ivan V. Sokolov, from Pazardzhik, was almost sent away, too, as he did not bring any statistical information and had to spend 1 lira to send a special envoy to Pazardzhik for the data, and Danail Yurukov appeared as a self-proclaimed representative of Bratsigovo and was also returned.

Unauthorized actors were also present at the meeting, some of whom claimed to participate after the Liberation, but formally they were delegates.

Thus, according to all studies up to now, it can be concluded that the total number of representatives in the Oborishte assembly did not exceed 75 people, who represented about 60 settlements.

The names of 67 representatives are inscribed on the monument in the Oborishte area, for which Dimitar Strashimirov's list was used.

Oborishte historical area

As can be seen from the photo moment, one of the names on the monument has been erased. It is of the representative from the village of Baldevo - Nenko Terziyski*, who reports on the decisions of the Oborishten Assembly of the Turkish Kaimakanin in Pazardzhik.

The Ottoman immediately telegraphed this to Plovdiv, Edirne and Istanbul, and the Turkish authorities took immediate action.

*Nenko Stoyanov Terziyski - Baldevetsa is the traitor of the April Uprising.

He was born in the village of Baldevo (formerly Rosen). Delegate of the village in the assembly of Oborishte, after which he reported the decisions of the assembly of the Ottoman authorities in Pazardzhik.

The Mutesarif of Plovdiv, Aziz Pasha, questioned him personally and immediately informed Constantinople about the situation. For this reason, the April Uprising had to break out prematurely on April 20th, and not as planned on May 1st (old style).

During the suppression of the uprising, his position in front of the Turkish authorities contributed to the villages around Baldevovo not being ruined.

After the uprising, as a reward, he was given the right to collect the tithe of the villages Shtirkovo and Pishtigovo.

During the Russo-Turkish war of liberation, he fled with his whole family to Constantinople. After the Liberation, his family returned to his native village, but Nenko remained within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire until his death.

Over the years, the area of Oborishte became one of the most visited places in Bulgaria, where Bulgarians express their reverence to the heroes of April 1876.

For the 10th anniversary of the event, it was decided to place a sign - a stone cross. Rad Gemidzhiev, secretary of the committee in the village of Mechka, takes up this task.

Oborishte historical area

In 1928, the Ministry of Education decided to build a monument at Oborishte. Sculptor Yanko Pavlov was entrusted with this task. The text and the names of the people's representatives were given by Dimitar Strashimirov. Simultaneously with the construction of the monument, a commemorative plaque was also built, which was placed on the rocks near the bridge on the Panagyurishte - Mechka road.

Author of the text and performer is the sculptor Prof. Dudulov.

Oborishte historical area

In connection with the hundredth anniversary of the April Uprising, a memorial sign (marble tablet) with a message to future generations of Bulgarians was unveiled.

Memorial sign (marble plaque) of the Oborishte historical area

Oborishte was declared a historical area in 1977.

Oborishte historical area

Oborishte historical site and house-museum "Raina Knyaginya" are site number 36 of the 100 national tourist sites.

National celebrations are held here every year on May 2.

How do you get to Oborishte Historic Area?

Oborishte historical area is located in southern Bulgaria, in the northwestern part of the Pazardzhik region.

It is located near road III-801 Vakarel - Panagyurishte.

The branch of road III-801 Vakarel – Panagyurishte for the Oborishte Historical Area
The branch of road III-801 Vakarel – Panagyurishte for the Oborishte Historical Area

At the junction of the road III-801 Vakarel - Panagyurishte there is a sign for the area with the inscription "Oborishte", the distance to the destination is also written - 3 kilometers.

The monument erected at the junction of the road III-801 Vakarel – Panagyurishte for the Oborishte Historical Area
The monument erected at the junction of the road III-801 Vakarel – Panagyurishte for the Oborishte Historical Area

At the fork between the two roads, a monument has been erected, representing a stylized lion, under which are crossed swords and a revolver.

In case you are traveling from the city of Panagyurishte to Vakarel, the turnoff is on the right.

Oborishte historical area stands on:

  • 100 kilometers (about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car) from the capital

  • 83 kilometers (about 1 hour and 20 minutes by car) from the city of Plovdiv

  • 437 kilometers (about 5 hours by car) from the city of Varna

  • 322 kilometers (about 3 hours and 10 minutes by car) from the city of Burgas

  • 8 kilometers (about 11 minutes by car) from the town of Panagyurishte

Type of the route – entirely pedestrian. There is a large parking lot where you can leave your cars.

Total length – about 2 kilometers. The path is pleasant and easy. You walk in the shadows of centuries-old beech trees.

Duration – about an hour, depending on the pace you walk and also the number and length of breaks you take.

Appropriate equipment - comfortable sports shoes, as well as comfortable clothing and outerwear according to the season.

Oborishte historical area

This is what Zahariy Stoyanov wrote in his "Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings", stepping into the woods for the first time on his way to the historical area:

As soon as we turned off the high road and stepped into the forest along a small path, which was really a bad one, because the noises hung on us on both sides, a voice was heard around the corner, without the person being seen, who asked us: "Who lives?" (This was the first guard.) We gave the appropriate password, and about 25-30 armed boys jumped out of their pussies, who presented a gun of honor to the voivode they knew, holding their rifles not like soldiers, but on their shoulders. They greeted us with the words: "Long live Bulgaria!" (then there was no cheer) — and they returned to their first place — the dense noise. This same thing happened to the other two guards, who were placed at a distance of half an hour. The deeper we sank into the ravine, the denser the forest and the narrower the path. When we passed the third guard, we had to leave the plain and go without a road on the left side of a steep valley, through which a small Balkan stream was humming monotonously. Here, at this place, we all had to dismount, for riding was becoming decidedly impossible. Besides the forest being thick enough, there were also many trees, battered to the ground by weather and wind, blocking my path with their dry branches sticking up. The rays of the night moon could not penetrate into this secluded place, and for this reason our journey became the more difficult, for we could not see where we were stepping and what lay before us. After a while, however, we saw a faint light ahead of us, which could barely be glimpsed through the leaves of the forest. Many thought that we had already reached the meeting place, but the guides answered that there was still about half an hour's space; and the light we looked at was nothing but lanterns up in the trees to show us the way and the bad places where we must beware. And indeed, there were such precipices here that a man, and especially horses, could very easily be crushed. Before we passed, one of the deputies fell on these places, and his head split in two; I think he died on the second day even before the poor man saw the waving of the Bulgarian flag! There were also many horses that fell victim to this place.

Soon we reached the green beech tree on which was hung a small paper lantern. It burned peacefully among the other colossal beeches, to which its feeble light gave a fantastic appearance. From here we could see a row of other lanterns ahead of us on the left bank of the valley, which formed a curved line and represented a city street, with the only difference that instead of houses there were thick beech trees with white bark, as if they were columns of marble. We pushed our way through the thick noises that whipped our faces. By the tree of the first lantern stood three or four people, sent on purpose to meet us, because in Oborishte they already knew about our arrival. These latter did not ask us who we were, because they knew that if we were bad people there was no way we could reach the tree of the first lantern. After they greeted us with the simple "Long live!", which echoed in the kitsch branches of the beech trees, they were lost in front of us like a whirlwind. Benkovski here too could not refrain from his rampage, without looking at the congratulations that were mostly given to him. He noticed with his typical dictatorial tone of the three new leaders that only bears are called in such a loud voice and that they must know that the Sultan is still the master of these places. The leaders replied that they were in such a place that even if the dead sultans came, they would still not be able to find them. These latter carried with them another lantern, which they rotated in the form of a wheel to show us where they were. We were all burning with curiosity to arrive sooner at this wonderful Oborishte, which housed the supreme authority of half of the Plovdiv sanjak.

— Here is Oborishte! Look down there in the gangway, where the fires are burning,' said one of the three guides, who had stopped on a high place. In the future, such a charming picture presented itself to us, which for a long time we could not look at. In the midst of the dense noise of the tall beech trees, situated between two high hills, in the lowest place, where it was as dark as a horn, rose between the two narrows of the hill a great orb of light, as if something were burning below the ground a building on which the rays themselves were reflected. "That light is from the lanterns and the bonfires," added the guides. The closer we got to the bright orb, the bigger and more majestic it seemed to us. After a while, when we were leaning towards the little stream, the voices of the deputies began to reach us, talking to each other. One of our three guides ran forward to announce our arrival to the assembly. When we had already approached the same Oborishte, which stood before us in all its grandeur, lighted with many fires and lanterns hung on the trees, as if it were a theater, and when we saw the deputies forming themselves in order to pay the proper honors to the voivode (i.e. to Benkovski), and he ordered his retinue to march in line, two by two. As you can see, the occasion was too favorable for priest Gruia to sell a turban, especially when he knew that among the deputies there were many of his fellow priests. Quickly he took out his patrachil, put on his yellow-headed squires, pulled out his hair, which he let loose over his shoulders, drew out his saber, and, with a cross in one hand, dashed his horse towards Oborishte, where about a hundred excited hearts were waiting. The company sang a rebellious march and followed Pope Gruya, who stepped first into Oborishte with the cross in his hand...

Blissful minutes!…

As soon as our group crossed the small stream I mentioned above and stepped into Oborishte's territory, a deafening "yes live!", which was given by all the deputies, shook the forest. This "long live!" was joined by the thundering of several rifles, the bullets of which, splashed by the branches of some tree, screeched hideously over our heads. We marched solemnly past two rows of deputies, bare knives in hand, a general kiss, and a "welcome" we received from all. And at that moment, when common sense was silent before the autocracy of feelings, Benkovski was not late in noticing to the deputies that they were not doing well by wasting their bullets in the wind, which would come at a time when they would be worth a penny each. And all this was done in Turkish times, when the numbers of the spy-pack were increased, and the government kept a much more watchful eye on the conduct of its raiya than at other times! In all likelihood, readers may be interested in knowing more about the location of Oborishte; and as for the spirits of the population, I believe I have already met them. However, I could not say more than what I could see and what remained in my memory from that time - six years ago. I desired to do something more extensive and fuller; but poverty did not allow me to see Oborishte a second time.

This place is located in Srednia Gora, northwest of Panagyurishte, at a distance of 2½ hours. Nearby are the villages of Mechka, Poibrene and Petrich. The place Oborishte itself is between two high hills in the valley, on the right side of the small stream that washes it on one side with its clear, cold water. It is a trap, as large as an ordinary threshing-floor, as if it had been purposely dug into the shore for our purpose. It is surrounded by forest, mostly dense beech thickets, and in the middle is a meadow with three or four tall beech trees. Except the top of the opposite hill, which was glimpsed here and there among the noise, and a small part of the sky, nothing else could be seen from Oborishte, as if it were a tomb. According to the testimony of Dimitra Gaidardzhiyat from the village of Mechka Oborishte, it was known to the surrounding people only to some outlaws and hunters.

Let me also say a few words about the artificial decoration of Oborishte, or rather the hall of the Great National Assembly, where after a few hours the fate of hundreds of thousands of people would be decided. By Volova's order and with the efforts of some of the deputies, the grass and fallen beech leaves were cleared from the inside, and in the middle of Oborishte a square table for pissing was built, made on the spot from sufficiently smooth beech boards. Around the table and on the four sides couches were made, likewise of beech trees, on top of which was spread a green rush of the same wood. On the table above, a saber and a revolver were crossed, among which the cross of priest Gruyu took first place. The apostles and some of the more intelligent deputies, together with Pope Gruia, sat on the sofas. The interior of the dark Oborishte was illuminated by 10-15 lanterns mounted on the green trees, which gave the most attractive grandeur to the picture. A little further away, near the stream, five or six fires were burning, on which young lambs were spinning, and which with their heat constantly moved the still small leaves of the trees. The modest Rechitza, who was the only witness to our actions, and who had already informed her grandmother Maritsa about everything she had heard and seen in Oborishte, was sulking as usual. A cold breeze that came from its sources, there far from the impassable dark nettles, reminded us that we must distinguish between the field and the wet valley, between the white beech and the delicate cherries. But let me leave the historical Oborishte, which is still Oborishte and which anyone interested can visit whenever they want. Let's continue our story about those events and persons who today no longer exist in the white world, have long since turned to black dust, are known to few. Perhaps, in time, when Oborishte becomes known, some more gifted researcher will be curious, who will describe this holy place with the details it deserves, will measure its height, width and length; and now let the readers be satisfied with my humble information.

Let us start first with those individuals who were the main culprits of this assembly. In addition to the apostles Georgi Benkovski and Panayot Volov, already very familiar to the readers, one of the apostles from Sliven, Georgi Ikonomov, who was called by Benkovski to be the voivode in Novo selo (old), arrived here two days ago, as I already said above . Then the apostles went to the deputies of about sixty villages of the IV district. I will give some of them the names, because I flatter myself to believe that history will accept, if not all, at least an insignificant part of them.

Those deputies, elected and appointed by the boxes and barns, I adore them a hundred times more than today's white-glove deputies, who, until they are elected, sell them, both mother and father, and honor and conscience; which are not elected by the people, as they like to say, but their drunken agitators, unscrupulous lies and bribes.

My deputational deputies are angels, the most honest, ideal persons among the people, the only rewards—I mean, banishment and per diem—that they had: the ugly gallows and the zaptian whip.

The Bulgarian people will not see such deputies again for as long as the world lasts.

Dear friends, following are links to all my April Epic posts

Georgi Benkovski

Memorial complex "The man who gave the fatal sign" in the city of Koprivshtitsa
Memorial complex "The man who gave the fatal sign" in the city of Koprivshtitsa

Todor Kableshkov

Koprivshtitsa railway station
Todor Kableshkov

The bloody letter

Stone bridge of the First Rifle (Kalychev bridge) in the town of Koprivshtitsa
Stone bridge of the First Rifle (Kalychev bridge) in the town of Koprivshtitsa

The Tuteva House in Panagyurishte and announcement of the uprising

The Tuteva House in the city of Panagyurishte
The Tuteva House in the city of Panagyurishte

Birthplace of Raina Knyaginya

Main rebel flag sewn by Raina Knyaginya
Main rebel flag sewn by Raina Knyaginya

Church "St. Dimitar" in "Verigovo"

Copy of the banner of Panayot Volov's troop
Copy of the banner of Panayot Volov's troop

Sinjirli well square in Bratsigovo

The well on Sinjirli Bunar Square in the city of Bratsigovo
The well on Sinjirli Bunar Square in the city of Bratsigovo


Monument to Ivan Tankov - Borimechka in the city of Klisura
Monument to Ivan Tankov - Borimechka in the city of Klisura

Vasil Petleshkov and fighting Bratsigovo

The place where the pyre was erected, on which Vasil Petleshkov was burned
The place where the pyre was erected, on which Vasil Petleshkov was burned

Church "St. Archangel Michael" - the last refuge in Peruštitsa

Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in the town of Perushtitsa
Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in the town of Perushtitsa


National memorial complex "Apriltsi" in the city of Panagyurishte
National memorial complex "Apriltsi" in the city of Panagyurishte

I wish you an exceptional and impressive walk!

И като за финал,

мили мои приятели,

следвайки тази връзка,

недейте пропуска

да разгледате пълния албум с фото моменти –

открити, изживени, заснети и споделени с вас!

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