Lovech, Troyan & Aprilsti

One of our last trips of the summer was up to north Bulgaria to visit the towns of Lovech, Troyan and Aprilsti.

Lovech wooden bridgeFirst stop was Lovech which was around 3 hours from home. I went to Lovech many years ago on one of my early visits to Bulgaria. It is famous for its wooden covered bridge connecting the newer part of the town to the older part on the other side of the river. The old town is lovely with cobbled streets, traditional old houses with their slate stone roofs and little Mehana’s dotted amongst them. We walked up to the top where there is the ruins of the fortress (we did not go in) and lovely views over the town. We stopped for lunch in a lovely restaurant in the old town, and then had a further wander amongst the revival houses before going back to the car.

Fortress at Lovech

Fortress at Lovech

Lovech

Lovech old town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troyan MonasteryNext stop was Troyan, famed for its monastery. We drove through the town of Troyan itself trying to find a shop to buy some bits in to BBQ that night as we planned to camp. To say we were less than impressed with the actual town is an understatement. It was very run down and depressing and we got out of there as soon as we could. The monastery though was definitely with a visit. Its about 10 kilometres east of the town and was easy to find. There was plenty of parking and we parked for free on the other side of the stream, opposite the monastery. It was again free to enter. Its much smaller than Rila Monastery but the architecture is stunning and the gardens were beautiful. There is a bell tower at the far end where you can climb to the top and see out over the monastery grounds and in the southern end of the church building, there is a vault housing the bones of some icon.

Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many Bulgarian Monasteries, Troyan Monastery has its own miracle icon – the Three-Handed Virgin Mary. Without causing offence to anyone, this really just seems to look like someone stuck an additional silver leaf hand on the painting lower down.

 

 

 

Then it was time to head on to Aprilsti and try and find somewhere to camp. We ended up driving a long way up a lovely new asphalt road up the mountain towards the bottom of the north side of Botev peak. At the end of the road we came across a small car park and an old abandoned ski lift. The car park attendant told us parking was only for people going hiking to the various mountain huts, so we turned around and ended up camping at a lovely BBQ area half way down. Luckily it was covered and there was solar lighting. I don’t think camping was strictly allowed the the forest service told us to move the van in the morning, but we were just packing up and ready to leave by then.

Tryavna Munitions FactoryWe wound our way through sleepy villages and then decided to take the scenic mountain road to Gabrovo, which was fairly interesting! It was clearly not a route well travelled and in parts the road had collapsed. But we made it to Gabrovo and decided to keep going cross-country past Tryavna and a random munitions factory, through Voneshta Voda and onto the main road heading north.

We were aiming for the campsite at Kapinovo but after taking wrong turning found ourselves at a lovely little monastery at Kilifarevski.

 

Kilifarevski

Kilifarevski Monastery

We ended up on the wrong side of the river to but you could gain access via stepping stones of large concrete pipes! It was a very pretty little place and worth a quick little detour.

We found the right road and soon past Plakovski monastery. This was a little dilapidated but still working and the one monk there, who was sat drinking and eating with a couple of labourers when we arrived, opened up the church for us so we could have a quick look. It was certainly not on the usual tourist trail and after a few minutes we hopped back in the car and a few minutes later found the campsite. Its a fabulous location, right on the edge of the river, where people swim and bathe in. Its large and modern, but at 30 levs a night was similar price to a hotel. There is also an outdoor swimming pool but this costs extra. Next to the campsite is the monastery and so to make it our third monastery visit of the day, we wandered over for a quick walk around.

Plakovski monastery

Plakovski monastery

Kapinovo Camping

Kapinovo Camping

The link to the camping website is here.

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