Berkovitsa is proud of its long history, diverse nature and authentic culture. In Nigel’s tourist guide for Bulgaria from 1968, the town is described as a resort because of its mild climate, fresh air, and pure mountain water. In 1974 it was declared a national resort. Beech, raspberry, and chestnut are amongst the most precious local treasures.
The hills north of the town are covered with old forests where the beech trees create a diverse and cozy atmosphere. At the end of the summer the meadows and woods abound in fruit; there is a monument dedicated to the “raspberry pickers” – the town fountain, made of local red marble. The chestnut, even though not an indigenous species, has been used for decades for furniture production, its leaves – for colouring of hides and fabrics and the fruit – for food.
One of the architectural symbols of Berkovitsa is the Clock Tower, build in 1762-1764. It is located in the very centre of the town. The tower used to time the end of the working day of the craftsmen and the Turkish administration precisely. It was build by local masters who used stone from the village of Gintsi, and the clock mechanism was made in Bucharest by the Bessarabian Bulgarians; it’s working flawlessly to this day.
The last few years before the Liberation are marked by the intensive cultural growth of the town. During that time, the monastery of Klisura was built, less than 10 kilometers away from town. Today in Berkovitsa there are four primary schools and two secondary schools. It is in Berkovitsa where Yordan Radichkov, a writer twice-nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, completed his secondary education.
An important event in the history of Berkovitsa is writer Ivan Vazov’s sojourn as a chairman of the District court from 1879 to 1880. The house where he lived is now a monument of culture of national importance. It was built in 1760 by a silk merchant from Albanian town of Ipek, which is why it is also called the Ipekliiska house. Its ground floor was used as stables and the floor above consists of spacious bright rooms with wooden couches, cupboards, and ceilings decorated with exquisite sun-shaped woodcarvings typical of the Trayvna school of woodcarving.
The writer was inspired by everything there – the nature, the women, the local people. “The life here imposed upon me topics original and new, and disturbed my sweet indolence”, he says. It is here that he writes the narrative poem “Cairn”, the poem “At Kom”, “Raspberries”, “My neighbour – Gmitra”, and “Zihra” – a beautiful Turkish woman converted to Christianity, who looked after him during his stay, and with whom he was very much in love.
In 1965, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary from the beginning of mass tourism in Bulgaria, a monument dedicated to Ivan Vazov was inaugurated at Kom peak. It is now known as Vazov’s stone.