Haskovo is a town in Southern Bulgaria and it is the center of Haskovo municipality and Haskovo region. It is the 12th largest city in the country.
The closeness to the borders with Greece and Turkey /about 60 km/, determines its key and favorable geographic location. Through the territory of Haskovo passes the quickest and shortest route connecting Europe with Asia, and the Middle Sources. Distance to Plovdiv is 75 km, to Sofia city 230 km, the closest sea port is in Burgas at 250 km.
The area around Haskovo is a typical hilly terrain. As North prolongation of the Eastern Rhodopes, geographers just call it the Eastern Rhodope foothills step or Haskovo hilly area.
Its altitude is around 200 m.
Population is approximately 77 000 people.
Haskovo celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1985. To mark the event, a new clock tower was erected in the centre of the town. In Medieval years it was known for the nearby Uzundzhovo fair, famous in whole Bulgaria.
According to the archeologists, the area of Haskovo was originally settled about seven thousand years ago. In and around Haskovo, evidence has been preserved that confirms its long history during the prehistoric, Thracian, Roman, late ancient and medieval periods.
During the First Bulgarian Empire in the 9th century, a fortress was built in Haskovo that soon was transformed into a town. This town was located at the center of a sizeable region between the Klokotnitsa, Harmanliyska, and Maritsa rivers.
Most Bulgarians began to settle in Haskovo at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At this time, the settlement was a trading centre for merchants from Edirne, Enos, and Istanbul. Slowly, the area acquired a strong reputation for producing cotton materials, silk fabrics, and carpets.
After the liberation in 1878 Haskovo became a centre of high-quality tobacco region (Bulgaria's largest cigarette manufacturing facilities are based in the town). Nowadays there are some enterprises producing food, machinery and fabric.
The cultural life in the town is presented by the newly renovated Ivan Dimov Drama Theatre, the Historical museum and an Art gallery. The annual Colourful Thrace Sings and Dances folk festival takes place in the nearby park Kenana.
A 32-metre-high statue 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 entered the Guinness Book of Records as the highest monument to Our Lady in the world.
The town centre has recently been the subject of many investments, such that one would be hard pressed to tell the difference to Western Europe, in terms of street cafes, restaurants, shops, etc.
Educational system in Haskovo includes: 36 kindergartens, 12 primary schools, 23 grade schools /of which 6 branches/, 3 high schools, 2 secondary schools, Sports school, Home for children and adolescents "Prof. Zlatarov", 7 proffessional schools, branches od several Universities, community center "Zaria" and a regional library "Hristo Smirnenski".
5 hospitals, 4 medical centers, two homes for elderly people, Day center for children and elderly people with disabilities, health center, etc.
The geographical location on the border of Greece and Turkey and our complicated history has designated this region as a crossroad of different cultures, religions and ethnic traditions. This combination has created a cultural richness to a land full of natural beauty that makes the region of Haskovo one of the most attractive for tourists in Bulgaria.
Remains from Thracian settlements have been found dating back to 1000 BC. Acropolises, sanctuaries, rock drawings and megalithic and monolithic monuments such as tombs, dolmens, and cromlechs serve as relics of the Thracian culture. Strong fortress walls, towers and ramparts from the times of the Roman Empire and the Middle ages can be seen on each mountain peak in the region. They were part of the fortification system of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire, and served to defend the roads to the capital Constantinopol. From the 14th to the 19th century, the region was included in the Ottoman Empire and many Islamic mosques have been preserved from these times. Magnificent architectural structures from the Bulgarian Renaissance period have also been retained in the region.
Near the village of Aleksandrovo, a beehive Thracian tomb has been found with unique frescoes that are well-preserved. It was constructed from large stones and contains two chambers: a rectangular antechamber and a round chamber. The tomb dates back to 4th century BC.
In Haskovo's old town, National revival period architecture exists from the 18th and 19th centuries. Noteworthy houses include Paskalova, Shishmanova, Gurkova, and Kirkovo school, now known as the Blue House. Also of note are the beautiful and authentic houses of Chorbadzhi Zaprian, Hadzhi Angel, Boyadzhiolu, Chorbadhzi Dimitrak. Ethnographic collections from the Bulgarian Renaissance period and a great number of archaeological exhibits are kept in the History Museum in the city center. The Shishmanova and Paskalova houses contain permanent ethnographic exhibitions, and tours may be arranged through the museum.
Spectacular stone churches, The Church of Virgin Mary (1837) and the Archangel Michael and Gabriel Church (1861), are reminders of the spirituality from the Renaissance. They are basilicas with three naves, decorated with exquisite wall paintings and wooden carvings and icons. Prominent in the city center is the oldest mosque in the Balkans, "Eski Dzhamia" that was built in 1395, the interior of the which has been beautifully reconstructed.
Haskovo offers convenient city bus services to and from the city's quarters and major firms in the area. The centrally located Haskovo Bus Station offers many connections both within the country and abroad. The Haskovo Train Station is located on the east-end of Boulevard Saednenie (approximately 20 minutes walk from the center), and offers both national and international connections.
Internet resources: www.haskovo.bg