Berkovitsa is a town in Northwestern Bulgaria. It is located in Montana Province and is close to the town of Varshets. Berkovitsa is situated on the northern slope of the Berkovska Stara Planina Mountain along the valley of the Berkovitsa River, which is a tributary to the Barziya River, at an altitude above sea level 405 m. The largest part of the area is a hilly mountain terrain, very often cut through by ravines. The lowest point above sea level is in the village of Borovtsi - 250 metres, and the highest point is the Kom Peak - 2016 metres. Administrative center of the municipality is the town of the same name Berkovitsa. Berkovitsa is an old settlement. This is confirmed by the remains of a fortress and a church dating back to the 4th century AD on the Kaleto Hill, situated to the north west of the town. The settlement has been known since the reign of Tsar Kaloyan (the beginning of 13th century) and during the times of the Vidin Kingdom (the second half of 14th century) it was a border fortress. Berkovitsa was mentioned in writing for the first time in a Turkish document dated 1491. During the Turkish rule it developed as a crafts settlement - mainly in wood-processing and pottery. A great number of refugees from other parts of the country settled here. The inhabitants of Berkovitsa have many times rebelled against the Ottomans. In 1403 they took part in the uprising of Konstantin and Fruzhin, in 1688 - in the Chiprovtsi Uprising, in 1836 - in the uprising under the leadership of Mancho Punin as well as in the uprising of 1837. After the Liberation in 1878 the town declined, because it remained away from the railway line passing through the Iskar Gorge, thus losing markets in the Ottoman Empire for its crafts goods. The national poet Ivan Vazov worked for a certain time in Berkovitsa as a chairman of the court.
Economy and business
The Municipality is a region located near a road of national, and in the near future also of international, importance. The prospects for development are as follows: tourism - combination of superb nature with road communications of trans-national importance; high-mountain stockbreeding and organic farming. The wealth of coniferous and deciduous forests creates favorable conditions for development of wood-processing enterprises. The facilities and the abundant game is a prerequisite for the development of hunting and fishing tourism. Another important resource is the availability of mineral springs. The following agricultural sectors are developed: stockbreeding, perennial crops, in particular strawberrie and raspberrie growing, alternative agriculture. In stockbreeding sheep breeding and cattle breeding are developed. There is a trend of increasing the areas planted with raspberries and strawberries. The massifs of vineyards and mellow cherries are increasing as well and new massifs are planted. A traditional activity is wild mushroom, fruit and herb picking.
Strategic projects and opportunities for foreign investments
The Municipality is developing A Program for Development and Establishing Berkovitsa as tourist and sports center at national scale.
Projects: for expanding the areas planted with strawberries and raspberries; for improvement of the sheep genetic fund in Berkovitsa Municipality with a view to development of high-mountain stockbreeding; for planting mellow cherries on the land of Zamfirovo and Komarevo villages; for planting black current and aronia in Barzia village; for recovery of old and planting new plum trees and recovery of vineyard massifs; for construction of refrigerating facilities for instant freezing of agricultural production.
Environmental protection and tourism
Kom Tourism and Sports Complex is located within 15 km from Berkovista town; it offers good facilities for winter holidays. There are Alpine and running ski-runways serviced by two towing lifts. They are placed among century-old trees (Gornata Korija reserve). Opportunities are available for cycling and hang-gliding and paragliding. The Municipality is the starting point for numerous tourism routes: Kom - Emine peak; international hiking route Å-3 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean; Kom - Belogradchik. Sinia Vir is a pool offering conditions for sports fishing. There are also conditions for hunting tourism - 60 sq. km of hunting area in the Petrohan Trial Forestry Farm. An Ecotourism, There are good accommodation facilities in numerous tourist complexes and private hotels.
The Ivan Vazov House-Museum (2, Ivan Vazov Str., tel. 0953 2235) which is in the centralpart of the town is arranged in the building where the poet lived in the period 1879-1880. The house itself is a precious architectural monument with an interesting exterior and interior architecture with wood-carved ceilings and original fireplace, cupboards, shelves. The atmosphere in which Vazov lived is preserved. There is a documentary exhibition showing the period of his work in Berkovitsa - the creation of the narrative poem “Gramada” (“Cairn”), the short novel “Mitrofan and Dormidolski”, etc. Permanent ethnographic exhibition - organized also in an architectural monument of culture, in a close proximity to the Ivan Vazov House-Museum.
The clock tower is remarkable for its solid construction and beautiful upper part in which the clockmechanism still works. It was constructed in 1762 and is one of the oldest towers in our country. Other landmarks include The Krustev House built in Revival style; The Holy Virgin Church (1843) with it's original belfry, wood-carved iconostasis and the “Golden Gospel” - an exceptional work of art from 1892 is kept there; The St. Nikola Church (19th century).
The first records of the town's history date back to I millenium BC. At that time the region of Berkovitsa was inhabited by the Mysian tribes. The Thracians built fortresses on the hills surrounding the town. They grew wheat and bred sheep, crafted iron and mined gold by the rivers Zlatica and Vreshtica. At the beginning of the 1st century AD the Romans settled in the area. They romanized the local Thracian tribes and helped economical and cultural development. There are many archaeological artifacts, ancient buildings and excavation sites in the area.
After the Liberation the town remains a regional administrative centre, but its development slows down. Berkovitsa starts losing its important position in the field of agriculture.
The rapid growth in economy and culture comes during the second half of the 20th century when many factories are built as well as new schools, a museum, an art gallery, a stadium and numerous tourist accomodation facilities.