Haskovo is a city and the administrative centre of the Haskovo Province in southern Bulgaria, not far from the borders with Greece and Turkey. According to Operative Program Regional Development of Bulgaria, the urban area of Haskovo is the seventh largest in Bulgaria and has a population of 184,731 inhabitants; the first settlement found in Haskovo is from circa 5000 BC. Haskovo celebrated its 1,000th anniversary as a town in 1985. To mark the event, a new clock tower was erected in the centre of the town. Haskovo Cove in Greenwich Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, is named after the city of Haskovo. Due to its relative proximity to the Aegean sea the climate in summer is similar to Mediterranean climate, whilst in winter with the winds coming from the north, the temperatures drop to the level of continental climate; the average yearly temperature is about 14 °C. Winters are cold but not as snowy as the northern parts of the country. Summer in Haskovo lasts until October. Many speculate that the current name came from the Arabic word "has".
Others claim that it comes from the Turkish word "has", having roots to the meaning "clean." The ancient Thracian name of the settlement was Marsa, by which it was known until as late as 1782. By 1830, it was known by Hasköy; the Bulgarian placename suffix "-ovo" replaced the Turkish "köy" after the city switched to Bulgarian from Ottoman rule. According to the archeologists, the area of Haskovo was settled about seven thousand years ago. In and around Haskovo, evidence has been preserved that confirms its long history during the prehistoric, Greek and Byzantine periods. In the 9th century — during the First Bulgarian Empire — a fortress was built in Haskovo that soon was transformed into a town; the town was located at the centre of a sizable region between the Klokotnitsa and Maritsa rivers. In medieval times it was known for the nearby Uzundzhovo famous in all of Bulgaria. After the liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878, the Haskovo region became popular for high-quality tobacco production. However, presently there is no cigarette production in the region as the once big Tobacco company "Haskovo-BT" was closed in 2005.
The biggest enterprises produce food and textiles. The population of Haskovo was 14,191 in 1887. Since it started growing decade by decade because of the migrants from the rural areas and the surrounding smaller towns, it reached its peak in the period 1987-1991, when the population exceeded 90,000. In December 2017, Haskovo's population was 71,214 people within the city limits; the Haskovo Municipality, with the affiliated adjacent villages, had a population of 87,780. According to the latest 2011 census data, the individuals declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: Bulgarians: 54,869 Turks: 12,507 Roma: 691 Others: 400 Indefinable: 709 Undeclared: 7,221 Total: 76,397 In Haskovo Municipality 63,963 declared as Bulgarians, 16,890 as Turks, 3859 as Roma and 8,984 did not declare their ethnic group. Most of the 28,444 Turks in Haskovo Province are concentrated within the city and the municipality, while the Bulgarians have a higher proportion in the province than the city, numbering 180,541.
According to the 2001 census, the Orthodox Christians are around 20 % Muslims. The most notable cultural landmarks in Haskovo are the newly renovated Ivan Dimov drama theater, the Museum of History, an art gallery; the annual Colourful Thrace Sings and Dances folk festival takes place in the nearby park Kenana. A 32-metre-high monument of the Mother of God and the Infant Jesus was erected on the Hill of Youth near Haskovo in 2003; the monument was inaugurated on 8 September on the occasion of the Nativity of Holy Virgin Mary, when the day of the town of Haskovo is celebrated. It was entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the highest monument to the Mother of God in the world. Haskovo has invested in renovating its town center, with a variety of new sculptures and fountains erected. Municipal landmarks include the Thracian Aleksandrovo tomb as well as Uzundzhovo's Church of the Assumption, built as a mosque during Ottoman times. In 1395 the Eski cami was built as one of the first in the Balkans.
Its minaret is inclined. Tane Nikolov, revolutionary Asen Zlatarov, scientist Anyu Angelov, acting Minister of Defence Stanimir Stoilov and football manager Grigor Dimitrov, tennis player.
Ruse (also transliterated as Rousse, Russe. Ruse is in the northeastern part of the country, on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu 75 km south of Bucharest, Romania's capital, 200 km from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and 300 km from the capital Sofia, it is the most significant Bulgarian river port, serving an important part of the international trade of the country. Ruse is known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, which attracts many tourists, it is called the Little Vienna. The Ruse-Giurgiu Friendship Bridge, until 14 June 2013 the only one in the shared Bulgarian -Romanian section of the Danube, crosses the river here. Ruse is the birthplace of the Nobel laureate in Literature Elias Canetti and the world-famous writer Michael Arlen. Ruse is on the right bank of the river Danube, the high bank, having two underwater terraces and three river terraces at 15 to 22 m, 30 to 66 m, 54 to 65 m; the average altitude is 45.5 m AMSL.
The urban area is an 11-km ellipse running along the river. The city extends from the land-connected Matey island and the mouth of Rusenski Lom on the west to Srabcheto hill on the east. During the 20th century, the west end of the city was modified by moving the mouth of Rusenski Lom to the west, as well as by moving the bank itself with its fairway to the north. Sarabair hill is 159 m high; the Rousse TV Tower is built there on the remains of a former Turkish fortification. Ruse has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Owing to its position on the Danubian Plain, the city's winters can get windy. Winter temperatures dip below 0 °C, sometimes to −20 °C. In summer, the average temperature is 25 °C. Temperatures reach 35 to 40 °C in mid-summer in the city centre and stay as low as 18 to 20 °C during the nights. During spring and autumn, daytime temperatures vary between 17 to 22 °C, precipitation during this time tends to be higher than in summer, with more frequent yet milder periods of rain.
The highest temperature recorded was 44.0 C and the lowest was −22.8 C. Scholars suggest that the city on the river bank derived its present name from the Finnish root ruskea meaning "brown", or *ru- or from the Cherven fortress, meaning "red," through the root rous, present in many Slavic languages. A popular legend claims that the name Ruse comes from Finnish ruskea, or the name of a female founder of the city, whose name was Rusa, meaning "brown hair". In the 13th and 14th centuries, during the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, a fortified settlement called Rusi, first mentioned in 1380, emerged near the ruins of the earlier Roman town. Other theories include settlement by people from Rus; the city emerged from a Neolithic settlement of the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE, when pottery, fishing and hunting developed. Excavations have revealed several layers, suggesting that the place was attacked by neighbouring tribes and suffered from natural disasters. Ancient sanctuaries were found nearby, where idols of a pregnant woman, a fertility goddess, were prevalent.
The Thracian settlement developed into a Roman military and naval centre during the reign of Vespasian, as part of the fortification system along the northern boundary of Moesia. Its name, Sexaginta Prista, suggests a meaning of "a city of 60 ships", based on the supposed 60 nearby berths; the fortress was on the main road between Singidunum and the Danube Delta and was destroyed in the 6th century by Avar and Slavic raids. Hungarian historian Felix Philipp Kanitz was the first to identify Sexaginta Prista with Ruse, but the Škorpil brothers demonstrated the link through studying inscriptions, coins and objects of daily life. An inscription from the reign of Diocletian proves that the city was rebuilt as a praesidium after it was destroyed by the Goths in 250 CE; the settlement was mentioned as Golyamo Yorgovo in the Middle Ages, whose present successor is Giurgiu in Romania. During Ottoman rule, the invaders destroyed the town, reacting to a 1595 unsuccessful liberation attempt by a joint Vlach-Bulgarian army, led by Michael the Brave.
After its rebuilding in the following years, Ruse was dubbed Rusçuk and had again expanded into a large fortress by the 18th century. It grew into one of the most important Ottoman towns on the Danube and an administrative centre of Tuna Vilayet, which extended from Varna and Tulcea to Sofia and Niš; the Dunav newspaper appeared — it was the first printed in Bulgaria and in Bulgarian. Some Bulgarian schools were founded; the streets are numbered for the first time in Bulgarian lands. A post office, home for the aged were founded. Three empires met here for trading: Austro-Hungary, British Empire. France and Italy opened consulates in Ruse; the modern city arose from the shades of the settlement. In 1865 the Obraztsov Chiflik was founded on the place. Ruse developed into a centre of the Bulgarian National
Kyustendil is a town in the far west of Bulgaria, the capital of the Kyustendil Province, a former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. The town is situated in the southern part of the Kyustendil Valley, near the borders of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia; the population is 44,532, with a Roma minority. During the Iron Age, a Thracian settlement was located within the town known as Roman in the 1st century AD. In the Middle Ages, the town switched hands between the Byzantine Empire and Serbia, prior to Ottoman annexation in 1395. After centuries of Ottoman rule, the town became part of an independent Bulgarian state in 1878; the modern name is derived from Kösten, the Turkified name of the 14th-century local feudal Constantine Dragaš, from Latin constans, "steadfast" + the Turkish il "shire, county" or "bath/spa". The town was known as Velbazhd in the Middle Ages. Kyustendil Ridge in Graham Land, Antarctica is named after the city, Pautalia Glacier on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Pautalia.
A Thracian settlement was founded at the place of the modern town in the 5th-4th centuries BC and was known for its asclepion, a shrine dedicated to medicine god Asclepius. Under the name Pautalia it was a town in the district of Dentheletica, its position in the Peutinger Table places Pautalia at Kyustendil. ΠΑΙΩ. which, on other coins, show that the inhabitants considered themselves to be Paeonians, like the other inhabitants of the banks of that river. On another coin of Pautalia, the productions of its territory are alluded to, gold, silver and corn. In the reign of Hadrian, the people both of Pautalia and Serdica added Ulpia to the name of their town in consequence of some benefit received from that emperor. Stephanus of Byzantium has a district called Paetalia, which he assigns to Thrace a false reading. In the 1st century AD, it was administratively part of Macedonia; the city was part of the province of Dacia Mediterranea and the third largest city in the province. The Roman fortress of Pautalia of the 2nd to 4th century had an area of over 29 hectares.
The fortress wall was built of granite blocks and unusually its façade was supported with pillars and arches behind. The wall was 2.5m wide allowing small catapults to be mounted atop. A second, smaller fortress of area 2 hectares was built in the town in the 4th century. Many Thracian and Roman objects are exhibited in the town's Regional History Museum, most notably an impressive numismatic collection. Recent excavations have revealed an early late Roman monumental bishop's palace; the town was mentioned under the Slavic name of Velbazhd in a 1019 charter by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. It became a major religious and administrative centre of the Byzantine Empire, subsequently the Second Bulgarian Empire after Kaloyan conquered the area between 1201 and 1203. In 1282, Serbian king Stefan Milutin conquered Velbazhd. In 1330, the Serbs defeated the Bulgarians in the vicinity keeping the region to the Serbian Kingdom. Serbian magnate Dejan, one of the prominent figures of the Serbian Empire and its subsequent fall, had held a large province in the Kumanovo region under Dušan, was as despot under Uroš V assigned the Upper Struma river with Velbuzhd.
Upon Dejan's death, his possessions in Žegligovo and Upper Struma were given to his two sons, Jovan Dragaš and Konstantin. The Dejanović brothers ruled a spacious province in eastern Macedonia, in the southern lands of the Empire, remained loyal to Uroš V, until 1373, when Orhan Gazi's Ottoman army compelled Jovan to recognize Ottoman vassalage; the city was a sanjak centre in Rumelia governorate-general, after that in the Bitola and Niš vilayets. It was a kaza centre in the Sofia sanjak of Danube Province until the creation of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1878; the residents of Kyustendil took an active part in the Bulgarian National Revival and crafts and trade flourished. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule on 29 January 1878. According to the latest 2011 census data, people who chose to declare their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: Bulgarians: 36,732 Roma: 5,179 Turks: 2 Others: 143 Indefinable: 296 Undeclared: 2,161 Total: 44,513 Roma people are concentrated within the town limits.
In the meantime, about a fourth of Bulgarians live in the surrounding villages part of the Municipality of Kyustendil. Kyustendil today belongs to the Sofia diocese in regards of Orthodox church-administrative structure; the city is the center of the Kyustendil Eparchy. The majority of the urban population profess the Orthodox faith today. There are several Christian denominations associated with Protestantism and a small Jewish community. During Ottoman rule Kyustendil had Turkish population professing Islam, but of the many mosques of the time, now only two remain. Today the city has only Christian churches operating. In Antiquity, Pautalia was a bishopric in the R
Pleven is the seventh most populous city in Bulgaria. Located in the northern part of the country, it is the administrative centre of Pleven Province, as well as of the subordinate Pleven municipality, it is the biggest economic center in Northwestern Bulgaria. At the end of 2015 its population is 99,628. Internationally known for the Siege of Plevna of 1877, it is today a major economic centre of the Bulgarian Northwest and Central North and the third largest city of Northern Bulgaria after Varna and Rousse; the name comes from the Slavic word plevnya or from plevel, meaning "weed", sharing the same root, the Slavic suffix -en. Pleven is in an agricultural region in the middle of the Danubian Plain, the historical region of Moesia, surrounded by low limestone hills, the Pleven Heights; the city's central location in Northern Bulgaria defines its importance as a big administrative, political and transport centre. Pleven is 170 kilometres away from the capital city of Sofia, 320 km west of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and 50 km south of the Danube.
The river Vit flows near the town and the tiny Tuchenitsa river crosses it. Pleven's climate is temperate continental. Winters are cool, with much snow: temperatures fall below −20 °C overnight. Springs are warm, with temperatures around 20 °C. Summers are warm, temperatures have exceeded 38–44 °C on occasion; the average annual temperature is around 13 °C. The earliest traces of human settlement in the area date from the Neolithic. Numerous archaeological findings, among them the Nikolaevo treasure found in Bulgaria, evidence for the rich culture of the Thracians, who inhabited the area for thousands of years. In the beginning of the new era, the region became part of the Roman province of Moesia, a road station called Storgosia arose near present-day Pleven on the road from Oescus to Philippopolis, it evolved into a fortress. One of the most valued archaeological monuments in Bulgaria from the period is the Early Christian basilica from the fourth century discovered near the modern city. During the Middle Ages, Pleven was a well-developed stronghold of the First and the Second Bulgarian Empire.
When Slavs populated the region, they gave the settlement its contemporary name Pleven, it was first mentioned in a charter by Hungarian king Stephen V in 1270 in connection to a military campaign in the Bulgarian lands. During the Ottoman rule, known as Plevne in Ottoman Turkish, preserved its Bulgarian appearance and culture. Many churches and bridges were built at the time of the Bulgarian National Revival. In 1825, the first secular school in the town was opened, followed by the first girls' school in Bulgaria in 1840, as well as the first boys' school a year later. Pleven was the place where the Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski established the first revolutionary committee in 1869, part of his national revolutionary network; the city was a major battle scene during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 that Russian Tsar Alexander II held for the purpose of the liberation of Bulgaria. The joint Russian and Romanian army paid dearly for the victory, but it paved the path to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in this war, the restoration of Bulgaria as a state and the independence of Romania from the Ottoman Empire.
It cost the Russians and Romanians 5 months and 38,000 casualties to take the town after four assaults, in what was one of the decisive battles of the war. The siege is remembered as a landmark victory of the Romanian War of Independence, as on 28 November 1877 the Plevna citadel capitulated, Osman Pasha surrendered the city, the garrison and his sword to the Romanian Colonel Mihail Cerchez. In the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition of 1911 J. H. V. Crowe concluded his lengthy entry on Pleven with the memorable dictum: On the other hand, the Siege of Plevna stands out among other countless sieges and military actions in the region because of its significance. Without this fortress slowing the Russian onslaught, which gave the Great Powers time to intercede, Constantinople would have been repossessed by a Christian army once more; the events of the Russo-Turkish War proved crucial for the development of Pleven as a key town of central northern Bulgaria. The town experienced significant demographic and economic growth in the following years establishing itself as a cultural centre of the region.
The Bulgarian Agrarian National Union, a leading interwar party representing the Bulgarian peasantry, was founded in the town in December 1899. Prior to the Bulgarian orthographic reform of 1945, the name of the town was spelled Плѣвенъ in Cyrillic. According to census 2011, Pleven has a population of 106,954 inhabitants as of February 2011; the ethnic breakdown is 97% Bulgarians among others. The number of the residents of the city reached its peak in the period 1988-1991 when exceeded 135,000; the following table presents the change of the population after 1887. According to the latest 2011 census data, the individuals declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: Bulgarians: 95,386 Turks: 1,510 Gypsies: 1,017 Others: 489 Indefinable: 422 Undeclared: 8,130 Total: 106,954 In Pleven Municipality 112,414 declared as Bulgarians, 4626 as Gypsies, 3204 as Turks and 10,384 did not declare their ethnic group. An overwhelming majority of 90% of Pleven's residents are Eastern Orthodox Christian.
The Diocese of Nikopol, of which Pleven is part, is one of the two Roman Catholic dioceses in Bulgaria, an
Lovech is a city in north-central Bulgaria. It is the administrative centre of the Lovech Province and of the subordinate Lovech Municipality; the city is located about 150 kilometres northeast from the capital city of Sofia. Near Lovech are the towns of Pleven and Teteven; the name is derived from the Slavic root lov, "hunting" + the Slavic suffix -ech. Lovech is situated in the Forebalkan area of northern Bulgaria, on both sides of the river Osam, unifies both mountainous and plain relief; the eastern part of the town is surrounded by a 250 m high plateau, where the largest park in Lovech, Stratesh, is located, the southwestern part is surrounded by the hills Hisarya and Bash Bunar. In the northwest the relief changes to the plains of the neighbouring Pleven Province; the average altitude of Lovech is about 200 m above mean sea level. The highest point of the town is Akbair Hill at 450 m. In Stratesh Park, the highest place in the town, there are a great number of lilac bushes seen from the whole town, which are a wonderful view in the spring.
Due to this, Lovech is well known as the town of the lilacs. According to the census, held in February, 2011, Lovech is populated by 36,600 inhabitants within city limits. In the 1880s the population of Lovech numbered about 7,000. Since it started growing decade by decade because of the migrants from the rural areas and the surrounding smaller towns, with a peak in the period 1987-1991 when exceeded 50,000 residents. After this time, the population has started decreasing in consequence of the poor economic situation in the Bulgarian provinces during the 1990s that led to a new migration in the direction of the country capital Sofia and abroad. According to the latest 2011 census data, the individuals declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: Bulgarians: 32,706 Turks: 919 Gypsies: 411 Others: 120 Indefinable: 201 Undeclared: 2,243 Total: 36,600 The ethnic composition of Lovech Municipality is 43,223 Bulgarians, 2,321 Turks and 665 Gypsies among others. Following the census of 1926 Professor Anastas Ishirkov noted the homogeneity of the population, 95% of Bulgarian origin.
Lovech is one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Traces of human activities from ancient times were found in the region in the caves near the town; the reason was the comfortable location between the mountains and the flat country, the presence of a river. The first inhabitants of the town were the Thracian tribe of the Meldi, whose traces date back to the 4th or 3rd centuries BC, they founded their capital, called Melta, in the area, situated at the place of today's neighbourhood and architecture reserve Varosha. When the Balkans were occupied by the Roman Empire, a military station called Prezidium was founded near the modern town, situated at an important strategic position on one of the main Roman roads. Parts of this road are to be seen in the territory of Lovech today; the former Roman citadel Hisarya, situated on the hill of the same name, was the place where in 1187 the peace treaty between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire was signed and the returning of Bulgaria on the European map was declared, marking the beginning of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
In the 12th century Lovech was one of the most famous towns in Bulgaria. The Turkish invasion in the middle of the 14th century did not pass the town, but the Hisarya fortress was captured last of all, in 1446, although for a long time after that the town enjoyed some privileges such as a prohibition on Turkish people to settle in the town or to take Bulgarian children as janissaries. In the 17th century Lovech was once again an important trade centre and one of the richest towns in Bulgaria, a reason for the town being called Altın Lofça at the time. In the times of revolutionary organisations against the Ottoman rule, Lovech was the centre of operations of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation of Vasil Levski, called the Secret Revolutionary Committee, he was arrested by the Turkish military in a village near Lovech called Kakrina and hanged in Sofia. The biggest museum of Vasil Levski in Bulgaria containing many personal items such as notebooks and weapon is situated in the old town part of Lovech.
Between 1872 and 1874, the Bulgarian master-builder Nikola Fichev, known as Kolyu Ficheto, built the famous Covered Bridge over the river Osam, the only one of its kind in the Balkans. The bridge was burned out in 1925, but rebuilt in 1931. Now it connects the new and the old part of the town and it's full of cafes, small restaurants and many souvenir shops. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, an important battle was held at Lovech, known as the Battle of Lovcha; the war and several plagues and migrations in Wallachia drastically reduced the population. There was a substantial number of victims from the Bulgarian population. Many Turkish families were expelled by the Russian army and the Muslims of Lovech known to be "Lofçalılar" have immigrated to several parts of Turkey. In more recent times, Lovech was the place where modern foreign language education in Bulgaria started. Taking over from the American college established there in 1881, the first foreign language school in Bulgaria was set up in Lovech in 1950.
Three languages were taught in this school: English and German. However soon after that the teaching of English and French was moved to Sofia and Varna founding the first language schools in these cities: the First English Lang
Sofia Province is a province of Bulgaria. The province does not include Sofia in its territories; the province borders on the provinces of Pernik, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Vratsa, Montana and "Sofia-Capital", to the northwest there is border with Serbia. Archaeological excavations near Chavdar suggest that the region has been settled by humans as early as 7,000 years ago; the earliest evidence of a mass settlement dates back to Thracian times, including tumuli which remain poorly studied. According to Thucydides, the areas north of Vitosha were inhabited by the Treri; the Triballi were known to have inhabited the region around Serdica. The Serdi, a Celtic tribe that appeared in place of the vanished Treri and Tilataei, were first mentioned in 29 BC. Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus began his campaign against the Triballi in that year, in 27 BC his troops captured Serdica. Felix Philipp Kanitz, the first person to study the Iskar Gorge area identified eight Roman castella, which he considered proof of the great strategic importance the Romans placed on the gorge.
The road passing through it connected Roman lands from Thessaloniki all the way to Dacia. However, up until modern times, the gorge was poorly accessible because of its rugged terrain; as a result, the inhabitants were isolated from the rest of the world, self-reliant, but safe from wars and invasions. Some of the population of Moesia thus found the Iskar river area an appealing safe haven in the 5th century, when the province was threatened by Hunnic and Gothic raids. Gothic assaults were followed by large-scale settlement of South Slavs in territories south of the Danube in the early 580s AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was incapable of defending these territories at the time. With most Byzantine troops protecting the rich Asian provinces from Arab and Persian raids small and disorganised Slavic attacks caused much disruption throughout Moesia; the numerous Slavs mixed with and assimilated the native population. The area remained under Byzantine control until 809 AD, when Krum captured Serdica and massacred some 6,000 soldiers and civilians.
Sometime in the 10th century, construction of the Boyana Church began as well. Churches and monasteries in the area flourished during the Second Bulgarian Empire. Tsar Ivan Alexander established a ring of 14 monasteries around Sredets, with rules and organisation similar to the monastery cluster on Mount Athos, known as Sveta Gora in Bulgarian; the Sveta Gora of Sofia includes temples and monasteries throughout today's Sofia Province, spanning from Plana and Vitosha Mountains in the south to Dragoman and the slopes of Stara Planina in the north. Some of these were established during the First Bulgarian Empire or before Ivan Alexander's rule. Apart from these monasteries, a number of other, smaller temples can be traced back to the Second Empire; this includes the Saint Nicholas church in Bukovets, built by Crusaders in the 12th century. Crusader presence was attested around Bov, believed to have been established by an eponymous Fourth Crusade knight who became a vassal of Tsar Kaloyan; the modern territory of Sofia Province has been part of three of the four revolutionary districts during the April Uprising.
A few years after Bulgaria's liberation in 1878, Bulgarian nationalists organised a coup in the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia and declared its unification with the Principality of Bulgaria. The Kingdom of Serbia opposed the strengthening of its rival. Serbian king Milan I declared war on Bulgaria on 14 November 1885, but the Serbian forces were decisively defeated at the Battle of Slivnitsa between 17 and 19 November. Another decisive Bulgarian victory occurred at Gurgulyat, where Bulgarian soldiers and civilian volunteers fought the Serb Moravian division and prevented it from reinforcing the main Serbian force at Slivnitsa. During World War II, a number of resistance fighters were based in the area; the Soviet-oriented resistance - the People's Liberation Rebel Army, PLRA - organised locally under the 1st Sofia Rebellion Operations Zone in the areas around Botevgrad and Ihtiman. Anti-partisan operations by the Bulgarian government military part of the Axis powers, had become fierce by 1944.
In January 1944, Special Operations Executive Major William Frank Thompson and another British officer, Sergeant Kenneth Scott, were parachuted with radio equipment in southern Yugoslavia. The two joined a group of 100 ill-equipped Bulgarian partisans and entered Bulgaria in May 1944. After some initial success, the group was ambushed, Thompson was captured near Eleshnitsa along with a dozen Bulgarian partisans. After being shown the severed heads of other partisans on pikes, they were tortured by government troops and their paramilitary aides, the Gendarmerie; because of his Communist sympathies and fluent Bulgarian and Russian and the other resistance fighters were executed by a firing squad. Several villages in the area were merged after the war into what is now a single village, named after the British officer. With a territory of 7 020 km², Sofia Province is the second-largest in Bulgaria, it has the highest number of municipalities, 22, borders nine other provinces as well as Serbia to the northwest.
The lowest areas stand at 350 metres above sea level, whereas the highest rise above 2,900 metres, resulting in diverse terrain and climatic factors. A temperate climate with cold winters, cool springs and mild summers h