At the beginning of June we took on a journey to Troyan for the weekend. The plan was to visit quite a few interesting places in Central Bulgaria, and despite the forecast for a lot of rain, the weather was on our side and we were able to do everything on our list.
In this article Ill share the best things you can do in Troyan and this region. I also cant miss telling you about the magical place where we stayed - eco-village Azareya, and in the end Ill share with you this wonderful vintage restaurant that has recently opened in Troyan and is a must visit!
Located on the coasts of Osam river, Troyan is an emblematic city in Central Bulgaria. Its known mainly for 2 things - pottery and plum rakia, both of which became part of the local identity during the Bulgarian National Revival.
Troyan is 160 km away from Sofia and 120 km from Plovdiv, and the population is approximately 22 000 people. The region attracts many tourists because of the impressive Troyan Monastery, the possibilities for SPA tourism, museums dedicated to the local crafts, some interesting Roman remains, among all else.
Things to do in Troyan
Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts
Our first stop in Troyan was the Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts, which is one of the main landmarks here. It was my first time visiting it and I was impressed by the rich exhibition and the lovely and detailed tour we received.
The museum was founded in 1968 in an old building in the center of the city. It has two floors where you can find various collections from the daily life of the Bulgarian people in the past - from clothing, fabrics and woodwork to jewelry, pottery and other works of art.
Here you can see the biggest and richest collection of ceramics in Bulgaria, and the signs around the museum talk about the manner in which the dishes were used in the past.
In several of the halls we saw these drawers, curiously saying: Please, do touch! - the absolute opposite of what Ive seen in all other museums I have visited, where touching is always prohibited. What you can find in these drawers is usually a sample of the materials that were used to craft the items from the exhibition.
I was also impressed by the fact that in one of the rooms there is a chest, containing some objects and information written in Braille alphabet, thus allowing people with visual impairments to learn about the museums collection.
Monday - Friday
09:00 - 17:00
Ticket: 5 BGN
Students and retirees: 2 BGN
Guided tour: 5 - 10 BGN
The monument of Ivan Hadzhiyski – the father of Bulgarian sociology
Next to the crafts museum in the center of Troyan you cant help but notice a beautiful old house with a monument in front of it. This is the monument of Ivan Hadzhiyski, also considered the father of Bulgarian sociology and social psychology.
Ivan Hadjiyiski was born in 1907 and during his school years in Troyan, he published some articles in a local magazine. After finishing highschool, in 1929 he became a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party, which eventually resulted in him getting arrested. In 1943 he was mobilized in the army and during his service, he completed the third volume of his most famous book Bit i dushevnost (Бит и душевност).
The monument in front of the house represents Ivan Hadjiyski and his bicycle, which he used to travel around the country to collect materials for his most famous work - Bit i dushevnost na nashiya narod (Life and spirit of our people).
Turlata Forest Park – the newest attraction for kids
In the afternoon we had the opportunity to visit one of the newest attractions in Troyan, created specifically for all the children here.
The forest park is located just around 300 - 400 meters from the center and is a wonderful place where every child can spend hours in fun and games. The park is newly opened and even more facilities are going to be added. The plans include a place for barbecue and picnic, tables and benches with a beautiful view over the city, as well as a dog park.
One of the favorite facilities among the kids there was the air trolley. As curious as we are, we also decided to try it - it turned out it can take on weight up to 80 kg, and it was so fun to ride on!
If you are traveling with children make sure to take some time to visit the park and enjoy the piece of nature around you.
Things to do around Troyan
The Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria and is one of the most mesmerizing places I have visited in the country.
Do you know how the size of monasteries is being determined and compared? It is not by their total area, as I assumed.
During our visit we learned that the monasteries are compared by the size of their vestibule - the entrance in the Christian monastery which is designed for those who are not yet baptized and have not yet accepted the Christian faith. So the bigger the vestibule, the larger the monastery is considered to be (at least in Bulgaria)!
The Troyan Monastery is famous for its architecture, wood carvings and beautiful frescoes. In the middle of the XIX century the monastery became a revolutionary committee. Here one of Bulgarias biggest historic revolutionaries - Vasil Levski, founded a revolutionary committee in which all the monks participated.
In the museum of the monastery you can visit the hiding room of Vasil Levski, a typical household room from the period of the Revival, the room of Tsar Boris III and more.
National Arts and Crafts Exhibition in the village of Oreshak
We combined our visit to the Troyan Monastery with an interesting exhibition right next to it - the National Exhibition of Arts and Crafts next to the village of Oreshak.
The exhibition was opened in 1971 and is located in several buildings which are separated into 9 halls. Here you can see items crafted by master craftsmen from different parts of Bulgaria and not only. A few of the halls are dedicated to crafts, art and traditions from other countries, such as China, Brazil, India and many more.
The museum quickly became a favorite of ours once we realized that well get to see the process of pottery from up close and even try to do something with our own hands. The person who gave us a demonstration and a short lesson was Nadezhda Hristova - master potter with over 20 years of experience. In just a few minutes, a small clay pot magically appeared under the pressure of her hands. Seeing the products already made is nice, but you dont realize what goes into it until you actually see the making of one - its impressive!
Of course, we didnt miss the opportunity to get our hands dirty and see for ourselves how hard it can actually be. Turns out it is not an easy task! At first my creation was going well until the moment came when I had to raise the walls. Spinning the wheel with one leg and trying to balance with the other while pressing with both hands on the clay… oh man. To make the walls go up, you have to apply equal pressure with each finger on each side of the pot. Its unnecessary to mention what the result of our inexperienced hands was - slightly curved pots which we will probably use for art ashtrays at home. At least we tried. 🙂
The village of Gumoshtnik – The Monastery School, the grave of the Bulgarians who died on Titanic, “St. Nikolay Letni” Church and the Monument of those who died in the wars
The village of Gumoshtnik is a place I had never heard of before this trip and it pleasantly surprised us. In this village, just a few meters away from one another you can find some interesting landmarks - an old Monastery School, the monument of the Bulgarians who died on Titanic, the church St. Nikolay Letni and the monument of the villagers who died during the wars for national unification in Bulgaria in 1912-1918.
The only monastery school that has remained in this region is located in this village. It was opened in 1829 and then restored in 1979.
Once I entered the classroom I felt as if I was taken back in time. The long wooden desks with benches, the writing boards and the hanging tools that were used for the naughty ones - it was all so distant for me but at the same time I imagined myself as a student who could have studied in this exact same classroom.
On the first rows you can see the desks with sand that were used by the youngest students when they were learning how to write. With the sand they could practice writing, using their fingers, and then easily erase what they had written and try again. Once the students advanced a little, they moved to the middle desks where they used boards with wide and narrow lines on one side for writing and with squares on the other side for mathematics. Once they mastered these skills, they went to the back rows and used feather and ink.
The St. Nikolay Letni church is located next to the monastery school. The church is very beautiful and rich from the inside - something one does not notice at first due to the lack of good lighting. If you have the opportunity to visit it, pay attention to the frescoes. We were particularly impressed by the 12 wood compositions that are located at the base of the altar and illustrate biblical scenes from the path of Jesus.
In the garden of the church you will see a few monuments. At the end of the garden there;s the monument of the Bulgarians who died in the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. There were 38 Bulgarians on board, eight of whom were from the village of Gumoshtnik.
The other two monuments are located right in front of the entrance of the church and are dedicated to the villagers of Gumoshtnik who died in the wars for national unification of Bulgaria in the years 1912 - 1918.
The location where the church, the monastery school and the monuments are located is usually locked. If you wish to visit it, make sure to contact the Monastery in advance so that someone comes to open it. Here are contact details:
Phone number: +359 889 99 15 87.
Golyama Zhelyazna village, Sopot dam
The Sopot dam presents great opportunities for sunbathing, water sports and relaxation.
Near the village of Golyama Zhelyazna you will find the training base of the water tourism club Osmos - a place where one can sit around the shore of the dam and if you are here just for a day you can enjoy the kayaks and the paddle boats which the club offers for free.
Natural History Museum – village of Cherni Osam
Not far from Troyan, just about 13 km away, you can find the perfect spot for young and old who love the flora and fauna. The museum in Cherni Osam was opened in 1956 and is basically an exposition of over 700 taxidermied animal species, such as bears, wolves, deers and even the symbol of Cherni Osam - the golden eagle.
The Roman fortification Sostra
The Roman fortification Sostra is located 15 km away from Troyan and in the past it was part of the ancient road Via Traiana which was one of the main Roman military roads here.
Sostra was a small roman city which existed from the middle of the II century to the end of the V century when it was destroyed by the huns. During archaeological excavations many items such as coins,pots and others were found.
Waterfall Skoka – village of Kaleytsa
If youre a fan of walks in nature and youre traveling in the region of Troyan, then waterfall Skoka will surely arouse your interest.
The waterfall is located 10 km away from Troyan and 2 km away from the village of Kaleytsa. In comparison to other waterfalls in Bulgaria, getting to this one is an easy task - you can park your car just 200 - 300 meters away and after that you only have to walk a little.
The waterfall is 12 meters high and the water creates a small but deep pool - I wouldnt recommend swimming in it unless youre a really good swimmer. Despite that, the walk is worth it because the place is truly beautiful.
The city of Apriltsi is located 30 km away from Troyan and is one of the popular places for visiting in Central Bulgaria. Even though the city is small there are a few interesting landmarks that you can visit in Apriltsi.
Among them is the Novoselski monastery St. Trinity, the St. George the Victorious Church, the dug into the ground church of St. Petka Paraskeva and the tourist path The Cross, from which you get a beautiful view of the mountains.
Where to stay in Troyan
During our visit in Troyan we had the opportunity to stay at the eco-village Azareya - a place where people come to relax from the worries of daily life and reconnect with themselves and nature.
The houses have two floors - theres a sofa, a table with chairs, a kitchenette and a bathroom on the first floor, and a bed with a wardrobe on the second floor. The furnishing is simple but offers the most essential things for a short stay.
Sadly we stayed here for just one night which is absolutely insufficient for someone who wants to feel the real effect of Azareya. However we met people who were here for 4 days and they affirmed that after a few days of staying here they feel exceptionally well and could tell the difference in their body and spirit.
With our arrival in Azareya we were met by the owner of the eco-village and he told us about his future plans for this place. We also had a short session with exercises for stress reduction followed by meditation.
Where to eat in Troyan
„Gostilnitsa na dvorAt
One of the places where we had lunch was „Gostilnitsa na dvorat - a new restaurant in the center of Troyan which I believe will soon become a favorite for the locals and visitors of the city. It definitely turned out to be a favorite of ours.
The restaurant is decorated in vintage style with antiques that were arranged in an exceptionally stylish way. Apart from the great atmosphere, the service and food were at a very high level. It was noticeable that the products they used are of high quality and the food was expertly prepared.
Do not hesitate to visit it if you are in Troyan and wonder where to eat. Find it on the map.
Troyan Plaza Hotel
The other restaurant where we sat down for lunch was the one at the Troyan Plaza Hotel. The food was nice and the restaurant is conveniently located in the center of the city.
Central Bulgaria and especially the regions around Troyan and Apriltsi are rich with interesting places and landmarks. Everywhere you look you can see a beautiful view, church or something else which you didnt expect.
This definitely wont be our last trip in this region - there is a lot more to be seen. For more landmarks in Central Bulgaria you can read this article dedicated to Apriltsi or this article in which I talk about our accommodation in a traditional Bulgarian house and our visit to different places in the region.
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For travelling in Bulgaria, I highly recommend renting a car so you are able to visit as many places as possible without being dependent on buses and trains. One of the biggest and most reliable car rental companies is Top Rent a Car. Ive used their services and was very happy with them, so I can definitely recommend them. Click here to discover car rental options.
Organized tours can spare you the hassle of planning the full trip by yourself. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide - click here.
Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, as they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.
This trip in Troyan and the region was possible thanks to the invitation of Tour Club ReMark and the financial support from the municipality of Troyan.
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