etar museum

Etar Museum. Visit Bulgaria’s Unique Village of Water Driven Machinery.

Etar museum is a must do attraction when visiting the area of Veliko Tarnovo or Gabrovo district. It is one of the best museums in Bulgaria. It is unique that it has the only collection of water driven machinery in Bulgaria.
About 10 of these historical water buildings can be seen.
Set in a wonderful location along the side of the River Sivek the open museum of Etar  is also known and called the ‘Architectural Ethnographic complex’ and includes about 50 buildings you can explore.
The Etar museum shows the architecture, customs and way of life of the region of Gabrovo during the Bulgarian National revival period.
The buildings have been moved from their original place in the region and rebuilt and restored to their former glory.

etar museum

Etar and the Bulgarian National Revival period.

The Bulgarian revival period is usually divided into three periods

  • The first period starts in the 18th century up until the beginning of the 19th century.
  • The second from the Ottoman reforms of the 1820s to the 1850s until the Crimean War.
  • The third period dates from the Crimean War until the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878.

What to see and do at Etar Museum

etar museum

Karadzheika Water Mill
This mill was built around 1780. It is named because of the of dark colour of the flour that came from it. It derives from the Turkish word “kara” which means black.

Dolapkinya Water Mill
The construction of the mill equipment is the same as the Karadjeika mill. It is named after the water wheel, called a ‘Dolap’, which makes it turn.

etar museum

Grindstone Mill
Grindstones were used for grinding axes, knives, and household cutlery on a commercial basis.

Wood Turning Mill
Water driven wood turning lathes made it quicker to make bowls and drinking cups etc. The museum at Etar has two of these machines in use.

Saw Mill
This water driven saw saved hours of hard work when cutting large trees used for planking.

Nap Mill.
This is ‘ye olde laundrette’ and I have seen
This mill was used to wash woolen materials and home made rugs and blankets and other heavy materials.
During the washing the material becomes soft and a smooth like surface. The time to do the process could be 5 -10 hours depending on the materials and water temperature. form 5 to 10 hours without the use of soap powder
There are two of these water driven launderettes at Etar museum some still in use today!

Fulling Mill
Another water driven machine used in the process of making textiles

Braiding Mill workshop
More information on the Braiding Mill and Etar Museum

ETAr Museum is Open all year without a day off.
Summer: 1 May – 30 September 9.00 to 18.00.
winter: 1st October -30 April from 9.00 to 16.30.
Entrance Fee 3 euros. Discounts for pensioners and students.

Guided Tours (If desired) 10 euros
English, German, French, Bulgarian and Russian languages.

Street of Crafts Etar Museum

etar museum

Apart from the architectural buildings, you will see craftsmen using old traditions of wood carving, knife making, weaving, pottery and much more.
Information boards are written in both Bulgarian and English to help you understand what each building was and how it was used.

 There are shops where you can buy fresh baked hearth breads called ‘purlenkas’ they are very tasty with feta or other local cheeses. Many other sweet items can be bought also.

Throughout the year there are festivals held within the complex and the annual international craft fair takes place the first weekend in September.
If you live local to Etar you can try your hand at many of the craft courses that take part through the year.
Here is a link to the Etar hobby website.


Accommodation and Restaurants Etar


There are two entrances to the Etar museum and a large car /bus park at the furthest entrance.
There are two restaurants to choose from, again one at either end of the museum.

Closest recommended accomodation/hotels to Etar Museum

Hotel Hitar Petar
Guest House Lili

Nearby Places of Interest to Etar Open Air Museum

Shipka Pass
Shipka Memorial Church
Sokolski Monastery and Eco Trail



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