It is a beautiful, classical city along the Yantra river bank, in the North of the Stara Planina mountain range, in central Bulgaria, Europe — Gabrovo city. Local people here are regarded as the most jovial people in the world. Funny stories are specialties of this beautiful region.
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“With local people in Gabrovo, humor and satire are strength”, Ms Hristova proudly informs her guests while flipping snow on the young pine bud.
This is the most ancient city of the rose country with a special shape: expanding 25km along the river bank with only 1km in width. A gravel path runs through the city with ancient houses on both sides lit up by lanterns. Small mills, operated by wheels, grind away, creating the sounds of hundreds of years of history.
Gabrovo is famous for its handicrafts. There are also ancient workshops with skillful artisans polishing all their jewelry, ceramics and bronze products. While they work, they tell each other ancient stories and then bursting out laughing.
Gabrovo were often thought of as being very “mean” and they wrote stories to mock this inaccurate portrayal. Once stepping into the city, we were told a story connected with its history: Long time ago, to save energy for heating the house, their ancestors cut the tails off cats so that when the cats went out, they could close the door more quickly. Therefore, the symbol of Gabrovo is still a tail less black cat.
Here, you will be “taught” some “skills” for saving that you have never heard of anywhere else. For example, sticking a small straw into an egg to eat it many times, or stopping the clocks in the evening in order for the gears not to be worn out. Farmers put green glasses on their donkeys while feeding them with straw in order for them to mistake it for green grass. Furthermore, local people like drinking tea with butter, but when guests come, they burn their knives so guests won’t be able to use their butter.
According to the most widespread legend, Gabrovo was founded by a young blacksmith called Racho Kovacha, close to whose fireplace a hornbeam (gaburovo in Bulgarian) rose, from which the settlement acquired its name. At present, the statue of the blacksmith Racho has been put on a stone by Yantra river. “The statue is put there to save the place and save money for donating flowers every day”, Ms Hristova explains. Each year, when the statue is restored, it is the start of May festival at this city and it is time for funny people worldwide flock here to… laugh.
Two famous funny stories of Gabrovo:
– A Gabrovo person comes to meet his neighbor and asks: Hey, I have 15 guests but only have 10 chairs. Do you have any chair? – Yes, replied the neighbor. – Wonderful! So, let me take 5 of my guests to your house!
– A Gabrovo person angrily asks his son: Last night, did you go dancing with Maria? – Yes, dad. – How much did you spend?, asked the father. – About 10,000 fancs. – That’s all? – Yes, because Maria only brought that amount.
The treasure trove of humorous stories from local people in Gabrovo is endless because it has been gathered from generation to generation. Therefore, the city is famous for its Humor and Satire House. The house was built on the base of an old traditional leather workshop and opened on the Fool Day in 1972. The house features 11 compartments with a cover area of 8000m2 to display nearly 48,000 works, including paintings, graphic works, caricatures, sculptures, photos, propaganda pictures, stamps and books of 6,800 authors from 153 countries worldwide. Its library holds nearly 3000 books and other humorous publications. In addition, the house also owns curved mirrors to create monstrous images, funny rooms, comedy cinema, theater, souvenir stores and humorous albums, catalogues and stories. Every two years, on odd years, the international humor and satire festival with the slogan “The world exists because it laughs” is organized in the city.
After the winter, Gabrovo is vivid in its carnival. For many years, this festival has been a special event, attracting thousands of international guests. The festival starts with the ceremony of cutting the Gabrovo cat’s tail, which is 4m long. In the autumn, the city is filled with yellow leaves and drizzling rain. This is when boys and girls go to the forest to collect chestnuts. The scenery along the foggy river banks of the city is very romantic.
Friendly people in Gabrovo always express their hospitality with humorous stories. Their laughter can warm them up in the cold winter.
+ Gabrovo is about 220km from Sofia capital in the Northeast.
+ After an Ottoman emperor invaded the Balkan in the 14th century, Gabrovo became a small town and later a center of economy, culture and religion in the country. After Bulgaria was liberated in 1878, Gabrovo became an industrial center with the debuts of joint stock companies and factories, which made it known as the “Manchester of Bulgaria”.
+ Gabrovo has famous bridges: bridges of traditional jobs with descriptive sculptures such as weaver, leather worker, potter and constructor. The Art bridge designed by artisan Velichko Minekov includes four white stone sculptures. The bridge behind the theater is on Sinkevitsa river with white stone pillars, where there are four lions that are symbols of the city. Baev bridge is where to honor heroes of Gabrovo in the rebellion of April 1876 and their contributions to Bulgarian education. Igoto bridge built in 1936 is the place of the Racho statue. Besides, the city also features a bellowing lion, which symbolizes rebellion against the slave regime, Bulgarian mother statue locked with chains and a Bulgarian breaking the chains.