Gabrovo. ‘The Manchester of Bulgaria’ Visitor Guide

The city of Gabrovo is situated about 50 kms south of Veliko Tarnovo. It nestles at the foot of the Stara Planina on the main road to Kazanlak via the Shipka Pass. It is an often overlooked place to visit and is a shame that visitors to the area miss the opportunity of discovering a city which was once known as the ‘Manchester of Bulgaria’

Gabrovo Interactive Museum of Industry

During 2014 is the first interactive museum of its kind in Bulgaria was opened. This fascinating museum is on 3 floors and tells the story of the industrialisation of Gabrovo.
Starting from the late 19th century through to the communist era and to the present day.

The museum explains the early days of Gabrovo, how it became an industrial town of great importance and furthermore to its world famed exports. Tool making, explosives factories, cotton factories, World’s largest crane maker and many more firsts for Bulgaria, made Gabrovo one of the most important industrial centers in the Balkans. For this reason it became known as the Manchester of Bulgaria.

Incidentally, the interactive displays make the museum very interesting and would also be good for children. The languages are in Bulgarian, English and Russian.

Even more you  even get a chance to blow up the building with dynamite! Another fun part is having your photo on an animated object which can be uploaded to youtube and then you can share it on your favourite social site.

Indeed your never too old to have a laugh at yourself.

In any event don’t miss the 3D film show at the end of your visit which flies you over Gabrovo giving you a birds eye view of the town.

Gabrovo Museum of Humour and Satire

By way of contrast Gabrovo is infamous for its unique museum of humour and satire. Indeed it is said the museum is the only one of its kind in the world!

Apparently, the Gabrovians are renowned for being miserly and have become the ‘butt’ of many jokes within Bulgarian communities because of their stinginess.

Gabrovian Jokes

Did you know the Gabrovians are so miserly that when reading a book at bedtime they switch the light off every time they turn a page.

Also people from Gabrovo don’t buy refrigerators because they can’t be sure the light goes off when the door’s closed.

It is said the Gabrovians cut the tails off their cats for winter? This is because when they are letting them out they can close the door quicker and save on the heat.
(This is a joke of course, A Gabrovian would never hurt a pet cat)

The Black tailless cat has now become the symbol of Gabrovo

When leaving the museum you come into the souvenir shop. Don’t miss the chance to buy the the half tea or coffee cups for uninvited guests!

Nonetheless the history behind how Gabrovo came to be the butt of many jokes is in itself fascinating and you can read the story about it here on the Museums website along with other information.

Unfortunately the museum building looks about as dated as its jokes but it is, I suppose, of the towns communist heritage. On the other hand if you’re stuck for an hour on a wet day it may bring a smile to your face. Indeed it might to the lady in the office taking your money!


Gabrovo The Town Bridges

The city of Gabrovo is also noted for being the longest town in Bulgaria. What is more, along its length it boasts several very impressive bridges which cross the Yantra.

Baev Bridge

The Baev bridge by Mincho Stoyanov was built in 1855 and is carved from ashlar a beautiful fine stone. Hence it is classed a masterpiece of Bulgarian national architecture and traffic is banned from crossing.

The Bridge of the arts

Four figures made out of white stone sculpted by Velitchko Minekov: An actor with a mask in the hand depicts a symbol of the drama. Two ladies dancing and a figure of fertility.

The Bridge behind the Theatre

Four lions carved out of white stone. Each holds one of the city’s symbols. The water wheel, the Blacksmith`s anvil and a book, representing Gabrovo role in Bulgarian education.

The Bridge of Slavery or Yoke Bridge

Created by Bulgarian sculptor Lubomir Daltchev in 1936. The figure of a roaring lion represents a symbol of the reborn and rebellious Bulgarian spirit. The figure of mother Bulgaria shackled in chains and the figure of the Bulgarian man who managed to break the shackles as a result of immense efforts and Racho the Blacksmith

Crafts` Bridge

Built during the height of communism in 1963. The bridge sculpture stories of Gabrovo crafts. The Textile maker, Leather-worker, “Potters”  and “Builders”.


Another great statue is that of Racho Kovacha the founder of Gabrovo . It is placed in the middle of the river Yantra and can be seen as you cross over one of the bridges. He is seen with his tool of the trade, a Blacksmiths hammer and anvil.

Due to its placement and in keeping with the satire of the city. Gabrovians say his monument was placed there so no money would be spent in planting flowers during celebrations. Also the fact it doesn’t take up room on the land!

Gabrovo Annual Carnival


During the month of May every year one of Bulgaria’s largest carnivals takes place in Gabrovo.

Usually the carnival takes place on a Saturday in the middle of the month and in addition the preceding week has many concerts and entertainments around the town.
Every year there is a different theme for the carnival. More so the atmosphere in the town is fantastic with a stage for bands playing live music and other artists performing. The carnival atmosphere goes on through the day and night.

Other places of Interest in Gabrovo and more information can be found on its website.

Places to visit near to Gabrovo

Etar open air water driven Museum.
Shipka Pass Museum and Shipka church.
Dryanovo Monastery
Bozhentsi Ethnographic Village
Buzludzha Bulgaria’s flying saucer
Uzana. Above Gabrovo in the Balkan mountains. Outdoor activities and winter ski

%d bloggers like this: