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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

The clock tower of Botevgrad

Dear friends, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the incredibly beautiful symbol of Botevgrad and its first citizen!

The clock tower in Botevgrad

The clock tower of Botevgrad is listed under number 82a among the 100 National Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.

How do you get to the clock tower in Botevgrad?

Arriving in Botevgrad, head to the city center.

You will find it in the very center between the buildings of the municipality and the community center.

The clock tower in Botevgrad

With its 30-meter height, it is the tallest tower in the Renaissance style not only in Bulgaria, but also on the Balkan Peninsula.

Its construction started way back in 1863.

The clock tower in Botevgrad

At the end of 1866, after many unsuccessful attempts, the tower appeared in the center of the city of Orhanie in the form in which it still exists today.

Why Orhanie you ask?

At the time, the settlement was called Orhanie, because it bore the name of the then Sultan of the Ottoman Empire - Sultan Orhan.

The clock tower in Botevgrad
Golden ginkgo and old lady - first citizen

The architect remains unknown. History remembers the name of one of the masters - Vuno Markov.

The tower was erected by order of Midhat Pasha and according to a previously prepared architectural plan.

The decoration on the walls of the clock tower in Botevgrad

On the walls of the symbol of Botevgrad, you will see a fine decoration with blue frescoes on a yellow background - Renaissance architectural elements, characteristic of Plovdiv and Koprivsht houses.

The clock tower in Botevgrad

For the construction of the tower, rubble stones from a quarry near the village of Bozhenitsa were used, and the timber was obtained from the area of the village of Vrachesh.

The clock tower in Botevgrad

The tower has a pyramidal structure - from wider to narrower and consists of three proportional parts.

The base is a square with a side length of 5 meters.

The clock tower in Botevgrad

The legend surrounding its rise is extremely interesting and I will tell you about it now!

It is the summer of 1863, and Midhat Pasha orders a tower of unprecedented beauty to be erected in the center of Orhanie!

An architectural plan is drawn up, craftsmen are gathered, the site for construction is marked and the work begins.

But the masters face a serious and unexpected problem. Under Orhanie flows the underground waters of the Stara Reka, and although its waters pass about 50 meters below the tower, because the river makes a sharp bend right here, the moisture created by the water seriously endangers work and the construction does not go ahead.

Every time the foundations are raised to a certain height, moisture destroys them mercilessly. This is also the reason for such a long construction time and for the many failed attempts.

The end of the summer of 1866 is coming, and here's to your success! In the center of Orhanie, the new gizdava tower is already rising.

However, local people are trying to understand what lies behind this success, because neither the original location of the tower has been changed nor the waters of the river have been diverted.

Choral tales from mouth to mouth spread the legend that if you see your success master-builders owe to a specially performed ritual - sacrifice by embedding.

In Bulgarian folklore, we have heard of other similar cases, as usually a young bride is embedded in the construction - the most personal, the most hardworking and harried maiden or her shadow.

The legend here is different and it says that the body of a bad Circassian - a Turkish robber - is embedded in the foundations.

This Circassian was very evil, hey - he was fond of Bulgarian women! The whole area was squealing from him!

And Vulo Markov, one of the main masters, had a sister whom the robber harassed. She complained to her father!

And the masters took revenge!

They waited for the robber in the dark, caught him and killed him.

And how can they cover up what they have done? Where to cover the body? If the Ottomans find out, they are bad at writing!

And will it then occur to them to build the dead robber into the foundations of the tower.

Maybe the construction will start. And so it happened!

Much later - in 1975, these choir rumors, which have meanwhile become a legend, stirred up the spirits of the locals again.

In 1925, the old building of the community center was erected on one side of the tower.

50 years later, the town planning plan calls for the building to be demolished and relocated, so that the tower remains standing alone in the center of the city, without disturbing its integrity.

While carrying out standard repair and clearing activities, the workers came across remains - a human skeleton laid in the foundations of the tower.

The remains are laid to rest in the cemetery park in a common grave, where remains of unknown origin are buried.

The clock tower of Botevgrad

The foundations of the tower are dug three meters deep into the ground, and for this the planks are currently placed on the floor.

The wooden staircase inside the tower in Botevgrad

Today, only the wooden internal staircase has been partially restored. The tower is completely preserved in its original authentic form.

And I, dear friends, tried to climb these stairs to the top, but failed! My fear of heights got the better of me and somewhere in the middle I gave up.

The wooden stairs inside the tower in Botevgrad

Nothing, I hope I can make it next time! I would love to show you photo moments from the top of this beauty!

The dome of the clock tower in Botevgrad

One of the main purposes of the tower is precisely as a reference for the time.

A specially made mechanism drives the weights, which in turn actuate a hammer that strikes the bell and the tower accurately tells the time on each round hour in a 12-hour cycle.

The bell ringing can be heard within a radius of 3 to 4 kilometers.

The wooden staircase, which I also tried to climb, leads to the clock mechanism, which was designed and made by the Orkhani ironsmith Gencho Nakov Kantarjiyat. The copper bell was created by Lazar Dimitrov, who was famous at the time from Banská. The original clock is kept in the museum of Botevgrad, and the one that can be seen today was assembled by craftsmen from Etara, but it is an exact copy of the real one, which has already served its time.

Visibility from the highest point - the bell tower at the top is also 3 to 4 kilometers because at one time it was the tallest building in the whole area (there were no other tall buildings to interfere).

In addition to being a time reference, the tower also served as an observation post. For this reason, this central position in the settlement was chosen.

It is said that a doll with a turban used to jump out of the window of the tower every hour, which was taken down and burned after the Liberation.

The clock tower and the historical museum in Botevgrad are site number 82a out of the 100 national tourist sites.

And now I leave you with the special album filled with incredible and selected photo moments!

I wish you a wonderful walk!

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