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History


Seven-millenia long history


The oldest settlements on the territory of Haskovo and its surroundings, date back to the New Stone Age ( around the V-th  millennium BC). The favourable geographic location and living conditions furthered their early and progressive development. The stone tools found here, together with dozens of idols and amulets, strings of beads, various earthenware and others from the VI-th to the III-th millennium BC. is direct evidence for the life of different tribes in the area.
The Late Thracian period in the history of Haskovo and its region from the  I-st millennium B.C. to the IV-th century AD is characterized with continuous development and the numerous archaeological finds prove that the area was inhabited by the Thracian tribe Asti. Most likely the whole region was agricultural with highly developed viticulture. This is proved by the found  tools, dating back to those times; the great number of sharapanas (stone wine-basins) well preserved  in the whole region as well as the Thracian shrines dedicated to Dionysus. Moreover, excavations of the fortress "Hissar" prove the existence of an active economic life and well-developed material culture. The  silver and gold artefacts found in the burial mounds in the region, the coins of Greek cities, numerous ceramics, all give an idea as to the state of Thracian production and relations with the Aegean world.


Late Antiquity and Middle Ages


Since the mid-sixth century in the valley of the Maritsa River Slavic troops began their raids on Thrace and the Aegean coast. Soon afterwards the Bulgarians invaded the region.  Since the last quarter of the sixth century and the beginning of the seventh century a process of mass Slavic colonization in the interior of Thrace began. An important moment in the history of Haskovo was the settlement by Slavs in the neighborhood "Hissar" at the end of the VIII-th century.
The Haskovo region was included within the confines of  the Bulgarian state at the very beginning of the IX-th century. The constructed  medieval settlement in the "Hissar" area occupies a central place in the system of fortresses in the region which play an improtant role in defending the borders of the new Bulgarian state. At the time of tsar Simeon the Great the importance of the village grows and requires elevation of the second fortress wall. Thus the village is formed with its outer and inner city, similar to other cities of medieval Bulgaria.
At the end of the X-th and early XI-th century the Haskovo fortress, which had witnessed numerous  battles and bloody warfare,  is in decline. It is one of those fortresses, which were first hit by the attacks of the reborn Byzantine expansion under  the reign of Byzantine Emperor Basil II , the Bulgaroctone. After the Byzantium conquest of Bulgaria, as early as the late X-th century, the conditions for development of the city changed. The settlement lost not only its trade and craft character , but also its military importance . It acquired more agricultural features. Population moved across the river where  later the Ottoman conquerors attacked it.
One of the most remarkable events in Bulgarian history since the Second Bulgarian Kingdom in the XIII-th, related to Haskovo and the region, is the famous Klokotnitza battle in 1230, when troops of the legendary ruler and Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asen II defeated the numerous army of the Byzantine despot Theodore Komnenos.
From  the XII-th century to the end of the XIV-th century the old fortress in the area of Hissar and the old town were turned into a necropolis. Rich finds of artefacts there have proved that in that period Haskovo medieval settlement came alive again.


Ottoman rule


Haskovo region is one of those Bulgarian border areas south of the Balkan mountains, which first experienced the horror of destructive invasions of the Ottomans in the 30-40s of the the XVI-th century with the conquest of Edirne in 1369 and especially after the battle of Chernomen in 1371 when  the Ottomans fortified their positions in Eastern and Northern Thrace. The Bulgarian population of Haskovo region experienced the worst of times. In an effort to preserve the Bulgarian spirit and will power the daring raids of rebel bands became more frequent, which inspired the  legends of glorious  rebel leader as Angel Voivode, Kraljo Voivode and others.
With its location and natural conditions the  medieval Haskovo appealed to conquerors. A large part of them settled here permanently. The town of  Haskovo  and the region were included in the administration of Chirmenski Sanjak (district). The Bulgarian medieval settlement began to expand north of the "Yamacha" hill down to the plain and over the years gradually occupied the areas on both banks of the river, approximately where  today's  City Park is located and the  churches "St. Mary "and" St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel " , which were built  much later in these the  neighborhoods. Ther other part of inhabitants,  the Muslim population, settled around the city center of today, where the first built mosque on the Balkans was erected in 1395 – the Medgid Mosque.
The Ottoman conquerors named medieval Haskovo settlement “Marsa za Has”, from which the modern name of the city derives.  The “Has” is a  large fiefdom that is granted  as ownership to the Ottoman ruling elite. According to historical records from 1526,  Haskovo “has” was the fourth of seven fiefdoms of the  Chirmenski Sanjak. Gradually, population flowed into the city from the surrounding villages and the Rhodope Mountains, forming new Bulgarian neighborhoods. Along with the cultivation of many crops, craftsmanship developed and the need for urban marketplace arose . In 1513 the market in Haskovo was fully formed and it was recorded  within the framework of the imperial laws. During the following centuries Haskovo market grew and became a stimulating factor for the development of the market in the village of  Uzundzhovo which in turn  became one of the largest fairs of the empire.


Renaissance


In the first half of the XIX-th century,  in line with the growing economic and social burden of Haskovo in the boundaries of European part of Turkey, the city strengthened its position as a center of trade and crafts. The influence of the broader market demad enhanced the development of  crafts such as  leather-manufacture, peddling, goldsmith's, iron-smithery, shoe-making, homespun tailoring, fur tailoring, masonry, bakery, horticulture, coppersmith's, manufacture of items from goats'wool and others. Along with the development of the crafts,  trade activities increased. They were  stimulated by the established Uzundjovo Fair, the cobblestone road  built in the late XVIII-th century  and waterway on the river Maritsa River, along  which at Enos port arrived  mechandise from Haskovo. The old ties between traders from Haskovo,  Plovdiv and Edirne were intensified.
Trade activities in Haskovo during the Renaissance were crucial for socio-economic development of the city and it stood as an important center and an integral part of the Bulgarian national economy. Unified  craft and shopping streets were established, where  more than 200 shops and commercial offices were located. Artisans, united in guilds, participated actively in the  public and educational life of the city.
This affluence led  to  intensive progress in all areas. That spiritual Renaissance fire in our history  thrived in Haskovo. In 1857, a telegraph and post office was opened in Haskovo. The  water supply of the town wss improved. New public and church buildings were constructed. In 1837, 1861 and in 1865 respectively the churches "St. Mary ", " Saints Archangels Michael and Gabriel " and" St. Cyril and Methodius " were built together  with  new schools and streets. The emminent Haskovo families begin to build big houses in Renaissance style – a symbol of their affluence but also a sign of their taste of harmony and beauty.
The Lirberation
The Russia-Turkish War in 1877-78 was declared which called forth the joy of the Bulgarians in the city, but was also the cause for a great tragedy. The inhabitants of the town had to cope with both  -  the liberation army as well as the  retreating Turkish troops. Many villages in the Haskovo region suffered the cruelties and bloodshed caused by the Ottoman hordes, a number of  prominent patriots from the city and the region are killed or exiled. Almost the entire Muslim population left the city.
The liberation of the city by the Russian army was on January 19th , 1878 . Military units led by  general Gurko and general Skobelev Jr. received a  very enthusiastic welcome by the survived citizens of the town. The bells of the "St. Mary" rang. On the way to the village of  Klokotnitsa Bulgarian inhabitants took  a long march to welcome the army  led by general Gurko according to the Bulgarian tradition  with bread and salt, led by priests with banners and icons.
"The Bulgarians came to each one of us,  reached out hands to embrace our soldiers, to kiss them - a Russian officer wrote in his diary. Everywhere  welcome greetings could be heard. Entering the city was most ceremonial. We felt that  we had not came from so far away in vain and that we had done a  good deed. Bulgarians here are somehow special. They are extremely lively, powerful, different from anywhere else." On the next morning, they welcomed  and parts of general Skobelev Jr.’s army and while on the road, they greeted  general Skobelev Sen.,  general Kartsov and the  legendary general Gurko as their troops passed. The citizens of the town accomodated general Gurko in a beautiful Renaissance house and today the street  is named after him. Today the house is restored ans  stands as a symbol of the gratitude of the citizens to their liberators.


Modern History


After the liberation, the Berlin Treaty partitioned Bulgaria. Haskovo and its area are included within the boundaries of Eastern Rumelia. Since the spring of 1879 the Russian authorities transferred the management of the city in the hands of the Bulgarian administration. An unparalleled in its sizeagrarian revolution was conducted. Agriculture quickly developed one of the main sectors of economy in the region. The rapid decline of crafts  after liberation created favorable conditions for development of  industrial production in the city. The first industrial enterprises were bult,  new trade relations and markets were established . The largest share of industry in the city by the amount of capital invested, the number of employed workers and annual production, occupied  tobacco industry. In 1900 there were 15 000 inhabitants living in the city in 3 215 households.
The mid-20-ies stabilization in the country stimulated the favorable development of the city. Trade, agriculture, industry revived. In the region of Haskovo acreage in tobacco, sunflower and cotton increased in size; the modernization of agriculture began. New enterprises were constructed, related to food and tobacco industries.
The economic revival in the country after 1935 helped to solve one of the most serious problems of the city – water supply and the gradual the electrification of the city began from the early 20-ies. Streets, roads and bridges were built and maintained, sewage and water pipelines were constructed, the river the bed was adjusted, public parks, squares, landscaping of the city became priorities. During these years the slaughterhouse, the covered market, the Municipal House, the Courthouse, the theater, dozens of tobacco warehouses, schools, hospitals and others significant buildings were  built.
The political and economic changes in the country after September 9th , 1944 and the end of World War II changed the overall economic development. After the accomplishment of the nationalization of all businesses and enterprises, their economic policy was organized by the state. The main objective which  was set was the  recovery and development of national economy, the creation of necessary conditions for its industrialization and mechanization. In agriculture, steps were made towards  the collectivization of land and the establishment of machine-tractor stations. One of the largest enterprises of manufacturing industry in Haskovo was State Enterprise "Tobacco industry", which united the existing 50 tobacco warehouses throughout the whole Haskovo district.
Significant consolidation took place in the textile industry. The silk factory “Svila” became one of the centers of raw silk production while the other factory  "Zheko Dimitrov" – the center of cotton production.  In the 60-ties and 70-ties, as a result of intensive industrialization in Haskovo, large industrial plants have been created  such as the machine building plants "Mlada Gvardia" and "Smirnenski" ; the plant for chemical engineering, the cigarette factory 'Trakia ", the clothing factory  "Mir" and many others.
The industrialization of the city is related to its growth, to the development of urban construction and of public services. New neighborhoods and streets were constructed, gardens, schools, hospitals, bakery, cultural institutions, shops and more. As a result of the political changes in 1989 many of the old machine factories have changed and introduced  new, modern production technology, others have ceased to exist. There are new businesses and associations whose production can successfully compete not only on the local but also on the global market.
Today Haskovo is a modern urbanized city with new infrastructure and modern outlook. Drawing on its deep historical roots and beautiful Bulgarian traditions, Haskovo proudly stands on its millennial road. Facing Europe, it looks with confidence and optimism towards its the future.

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