Kalofer is located in the heart of Bulgaria, nestled in the Central Balkan Mountains below Botev Peak, and serves as a gateway to the Central Balkan National Park. Its scenic location, rich past and proud people make it an ideal place to experience authentic traditions, learn about local history and take in beautiful nature. Here visitors have the opportunity to enjoy sustainable, small-scale tourism and get a taste of real Bulgaria. Whether you want to learn about local history and tour the home of the renowned revolutionary hero Hristo Botev or enjoy a hike along the beautiful ecotrail, your time in Kalofer will undoubtedly be a rewarding one. The town of Kalofer has about 4 000 inhabitants and stretches on both banks of the Tundzha river.
The calls of Bulgarian history and culture echo through the hills of the Balkans, from the outlaw tales of old to the inspired poems of revolution. Legend tells of the founding of Kalofer during the Turkish occupation of Bulgaria in the middle of the sixteenth century. Hidden in the hills roamed a group of outlaws led by a man named Kalifer Voivoda. The bandits, who led opposition skirmishes against their Turkish occupiers, fought their occupiers so fiercely and efficiently that the Turkish proposed a deal - stop causing havoc and you will be awarded a village of your own. Voivoda took the offer and chose the large plot of land where Kalofer stands today. The legend tells of the bandits taking young, beautiful women from the town of Sopot and settling their town: Kalofer was born.
Throughout the next centuries, the town grew into a center of wealthy merchants and for this reason was referred to as “Golden Kalofer.” During this time, the town was home to well respected schools where important leaders of the Bulgarian Revolution, such as Karlovo native Vasil Levski as well as Kalofer's most famous son, poet and revolutionary hero Hristo Botev, were educated.
CENTRAL BALKAN NATIONAL PARK
The Park is one of the most valuable and largest protected areas in Europe and was established for the conservation of the unique nature of the Central Stara Planina, or Old Mountains, as well as for the preservation of the Balkan's culture and customs. The Park comprises centuries-old beech forests, breathtaking waterfalls, deep canyons, vast meadows, imposing peaks and multiple nature reserves. Kalofer’S section of the park includes Botev Peak, the highest in the Stara Planina, as well as Raisko Praskalo, the highest waterfall in Bulgaria. The park is a national jewel located in the heart of Bulgaria and is a key aspect of Kalofer's sustainable tourism effort.
With over 670 kilometers of well-marked hiking trails, the Park offers excellent opportunities to experience wild nature. Those who follow its winding turns and steep paths can discover secret valleys, peacefully running rivers, and old forests while feeling the serenity and wisdom of untouched nature. Throughout the year, several mountain chalets are open to tourists who wish to sleep in the Park, including Hidja Rai near Kalofer.
From a walk through the countryside to a hike through the Central Balkan National Park, beautiful nature surrounds Kalofer. Beech and evergreen forests, a plethora of flowers and herbs, and wildlife, such as mountain goats, elk and pigs, can be seen. The Park itself is a keepsake of natural treasures. In less than one percent of the area of Bulgaria, one can find species representing 70 percent of all invertebrate species existing in the country, over 50 percent of all breeding terrestrial vertebrates, over 50 percent of the terrestrial flora species, and 54 different types of habitats.
Djendema Nature Reserve
A large part of the Kalofer Park section makes up the territory of the Djendema Nature Reserve - one of the largest reserves in Bulgaria, declared in 1953. The Djendema Reserve is recognized as a biosphere reserve by the “Man and Biosphere” Program of the United Nations and is classified as Category I by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. With its area of 4220.2 hectares, it is the biggest of all nine reserves in the National Park. One must stand on the edge of the reserve to truly understand why it is called “Djendema” - a Turkish word meaning “Hell.” The inaccessible rock cliffs boom with the sounds of echoing rivers and steep rock terraces are home to the brown bear, mountain wild goat, deer, wolf, wildcat, and many other mammals. Here, one can see the free flight of the rock eagle and hear the mysterious howls of the owl.
Kalofer is a unique mountain town accented by Bulgarian Renaissance architecture, a memorial complex dedicated to the revolutionary hero Hristo Botev and beautiful nature. The town is a national treasure due to its revolutionary history and is the perfect place to experience authentic Bulgaria and small-scale tourism. It is one of the few Bulgarian towns with a large number of operational churches, monasteries and chapels. It is a town of strong traditions and local spirit with many festivals celebrated throughout the year. Kalofer also has a strong living tradition in crafts, from woodcarving to its unique lace, which is evident in its numerous active craftspeople.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the town's churches and monasteries, visit one of the first schools in Bulgaria and see how children were taught 150 years ago, hike or horseback ride through the Central Balkan National Park, and participate in a traditional festival. The possibilities are endless! Learn more about these opportunities and many more by clicking on the links to the left.
Kalofer has three museums all of which are dedicated to preserving national and local history.
• The Museum of Hristo Botev where one can learn about revolutionary history and visit the home of Bulgaria's renowned hero.
• The school museum, which is the site of one of the most important schools in Bulgarian educational history and where Botev's father taught. Here visitors can experience a fully restored classroom and cutting edge teaching techniques employed by Botev's father.
• The third and newest museum is the Kalofer History House, which aims to preserve the town's historic and cultural heritage. Exhibits include an antique loom where visitors can try their hand at weaving a traditional carpet, traditional dress and festival costumes, tools and musical instruments, and a recreated turn of the century living room.
There are several Eastern Orthodox churches, chapels and monasteries in Kalofer. The women's and men's monasteries are definite highlights. The women's monastery or djenski monastir is a 5 minute walk from the town center and has a beautiful courtyard. The men's monastery or mushki monastir is a 15 minute drive or 1 hour walk from the town center and sits in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. Here you can witness daily life of resident nuns and priests, peer inside their historic chapels, and partake in one of their many rituals and celebrations.
Special Thanks to http:// www.kalofer.com