History Museum in Bulgaria’s Asenovgrad Saw 7,000 Visitors in 2016

The main building of the Asenovgrad Museum of History. Photo: Asenovgrad Municipal Tourism Company

The Museum of History in the picturesque town of Asenovgrad, which is more known for the well preserved medieval Asen’s Fortress (“Asenova Krepost”), had over 7,000 visitors in 2016.

This number includes only the tourists who visited the Museum, the Old School “St. George”, and the Ethnographic House, and does not include the visitors to Asen’s Fortress whose number is much higher.

The Asenovgrad Museum of History has managed to establish several annual cultural events over the past 5 years, which are emerging as increasingly popular, its Director Ivan Dukov has told Radio Focus Plovdiv.

“[In 2016,] for the fifth year in a row, we managed to realize our Medieval Fair, which is a very interesting reenactment of people’s life from the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396/1422). This was when our Asen’s Fortress became a really major medieval city,” Dukov says.

Other major success stories of the Asenovgrad Museum, whose collection boasts artifacts that are up to 7,000-8,000 years old, include establishing a Museum School offering classes in music, coin minting, archery, and medieval reenactments, and hosting a number of visiting exhibitions.

These include an exhibition entitled “Places and Faces from the Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea Coast” which is dedicated to the life and work of Krum Savov (1882-1949), a prominent Bulgarian photographer and artist from the early 20th who left a great heritage of photographs documenting the history of the Rhodope region in Southern Bulgaria.

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Early 20th century Bulgarian photographer Krum Savov created invaluable historical photos of the Rhodope Mountains. Photo: Smolyan Dnes

In 2016, Bulgaria’s Asenovgrad also celebrated the 90th anniversary since the establishment of the Svarog Archaeological Society, the predecessor of today’s Museum of History.

Also in 2016, the Asenovgrad Museum presented an exhibition of the works of important icon painters who lived in the town (then called Stanimaka) in the first half of the 19th century who were zografs in the major iconography schools of Samokov, Veliko Tarnovo, and Odrin (today’s Edirne in Turkey). (In Bulgarian “zograf refers to an icon and mural painter; it comes from the Greek word “zographos” meaning “painter”.)

In 2017, the History Museum in Asenovgrad plans to present an exhibition dedicated to the 70th year since the passing of Tanyu Nikolov (1873-1947), a Bulgarian revolutionary and voivode (rebel leader) from the early 20th century who fought for the liberation of the Bulgarians in the geographic regions of Macedonia, Thrace, and the Western Outlands as part of the VMORO (“Internal Macedonia-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization”).

Another exhibition, prepared by the Dobrich Regional Museum of History, is to be dedicated to the 80th year since the passing of Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov.

The 6th edition of the Medieval Fair of Asenovgrad is planned to be held at Asen’s Fortress on July 24-25, 2017.

Learn more about Asen’s Fortress near Bulgaria’s Asenovgrad in the Background Infonotes below!

Asen’s Fortress is one of Bulgaria’s numerous picturesque historical landmarks. Photo: Asenovgrad Municipal Tourism Company

Background Infonotes:

Asen’s Fortress (Asenova Krepost) is a medieval Bulgarian fortress near the southern Bulgarian town of Asenovgrad (which takes its name from the fortress). It dates back to the height of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) and the Asen Dynasty (1185-1256 AD).

Asen’s Fortress is located on a 300-meter-high isolated rock, on the northern slope of the Rhodope Mountains. Its location features traces of Neolithic, Ancient Thracian, and Byzantine settlements. It was mentioned as Petrich (not to be confused with today’s town in Southwestern Bulgaria) in an 11th century statute of the nearby Bachkovo Monastery. Asen’s Fortress was conquered by crusaders from the Third Crusade.

It was renovated in 1231 AD during the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen II (r. 1218-1241) as a stronghold against the Crusaders’ Latin Empire (1204-1261). It is best known for the well preserved 12th-13th century Church of the Holy Mother of God, a two-storey cross-domed single-nave church with a wide narthex and a large rectangular tower, with 14th century murals.

Asen’s Fortress was captured by Byzantium after Tsar Ivan Asen II‘s death, and regained by Bulgaria in 1344 under Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). It was conquered by the Ottomans Turks during their invasion of Bulgaria at the end of the 14th century even though the church remained in use during the following centuries. According to some sources, the fortress was destroyed in the Ottoman Interregnum when Ottoman princes fought for the succession of the Ottoman throne (1402-1413 AD).

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