Lovech (Ловеч) is a town in north-central Bulgaria with a population of about 50,000. Lovech is the administrative centre of Lovech Province and of the subordinate Lovech municipality, and is located 150 km from the capital city of Sofia. Near Lovech are the towns of Pleven, Troyan and Teteven.
Lovech has a beautiful location, with many parks and places to rest. In Stratesh Park, the highest place in the town, there are a great number of lilac bushes, easily seen from the whole town, which are a wonderful view in the spring. Due to this, Lovech is well-known as the town of the lilacs.
The first inhabitants of the town were the Thracian tribe of the Meldi, whose traces date as back to the 4th-3rd century BC. They founded their capital, called Melta, in the area, which was situated at the place of today's neighbourhood and architecture reserve Varosha. Later, when the Balkans were occupied by the Roman Empire, a military station called Prezidium was founded near the modern town, which was situated at an important strategic position on one of the main Roman roads. Parts of this road are to be seen in the territory of Lovech today.
The Turkish invasion in the middle of the 14th century did not pass the town, but the Hisarya fortress was captured last of all, in 1446, although for a long time after that the town enjoyed some privileges such as a prohibition on Turkish people to settle in the town or to take Bulgarian children as janissaries.
1784 is the most horrible year in the history of the town, when it was almost totally burnt and destroyed by a Turkish army. From 20,000 citizens at the time there were only 4,600 survivors.
In the times of revolutionary organisations against the Ottoman enslavers, Lovech was the centre of operations of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation of Vasil Levski, called the Secret Revolutionary Committee. He was arrested by the Turkish military in a village near Lovech called Kakrina and later hanged in Sofia. The biggest museum of Vasil Levski in Bulgaria containing many personal items such as notebooks, clothes and weapon is situated in the old town part of Lovech.
Between 1872 and 1874, the Bulgarian master-builder Nikola Fichev, known also as Kolyu Ficheto, built the famous Covered Bridge (Покрит мост) over the river Osam, the only one of its kind in the Balkans. The bridge was burned out in 1925, but rebuilt in 1931. Now it connects the new and the old part of the town and it's full of cafes, small restaurants and many souvenir shops.
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