Lovech 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 is situated in the Forebalkan area of northern Bulgaria, on both sides of the river Osam, and unifies both mountainous and plain relief. The eastern part of the town is surrounded by a 250 m high plateau, where the largest park in Lovech, Stratesh, is located, and the southwestern part is surrounded by the hills Hisarya and Bash Bunar. In the northwest the relief gradually changes to the plains of the neighbouring Pleven Province. The average altitude of Lovech is about 200 m above mean sea level. The highest point of the town is Akbair Hill at 450 m.
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.
Lovech is one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Its territory and surroundings have been inhabited ever since the remote past, a prerequisite for which is the favourable geographic situation between the mountain and the plain. Remains of the Old Stone Age, the New Stone Age, the Bronze and the Iron epoch have been found in the caves Tabashka and Vasil Levski in the town of Lovech. There is a great number of evidences for the life of the first citizens of Lovech - The Thracians, during IV-III century BC.
The ancient town has been built up on the ruins of the Thracian town Melta, which has probably been the capital of the Thracian tribe meldi and has played the role of an exchange road station between the Thracian tribes, that inhabited the today Romania, the Maritza valley and the Rhodopes. Later when the Romans colonize the Balkan peninsula, they establish a Roman station and name it Prezidium. It has a huge strategic importance along of the biggest Roman roads - Via Trayana, which connects the White sea with the Danube river. Even nowadays the citizens of Lovech and the visitors of the town can have a walk along the old Roman route Varosh, along which Roman soldiers used to pass.
During the Middle Ages Lovech is an important military strategic centre. The first notice for Lovech fortress in our history is from the time of the invasions of the pechenegs in Northern Bulgaria - the middle of XI century. During the rebellion of the brothers Asen and Petar in 1185 it bravely defends the attacks towards the Bulgarian capital Tarnovo.
In 1187 in front of its walls a peaceful contract has been signed, according to which Byzantium admits the independence of Bulgaria. The foundations of the Second Bulgarian country have been settled through it. The important location of Lovech facilitates its economic progress. In the beginning of XII century it has already become a big commercial centre, famous all over Bulgaria. In XIV century it has been a lineal possession of tsar Ivan Alexandar and has become one of the first trading posts of Dubrovnik dealers.
According to some authors Lovech fortress is one of the last fortresses which have fallen under Turkish yoke - in1446, but even then it has preserved significant rights - not to provide shelter to Turkish people in the town, not to give children to the janissary corpus, it also keeps its right to collect taxes for the goods, passing through the town. Towards the end of XVI century due to the participation of the citizens of Lovech in Tarnovo rebellion these privileges have been deprived. During the same time the entire valley of Osam river has been colonized by the Turks. The town has declined for about 50 years.
After the straits have been closed in the middle of XVII century the centre of the economic life in Bulgaria has been transferred to Plovdiv. Once again Lovech has become a centre connecting South and North Bulgaria. During that time a lot of inns and eating-houses appear. The crafts which service the passing caravans develop. The trade which stimulates the crafts progresses as well, Lovech dealers reach Tzarigrad, Odrin, Thessalonike, Vienna, Budapest, Brashov and Bucharest.
Due to its possessions the town has been named Altan (golden) in 1520. From 1780 till 1784 Lovech develops rapidly. According to some data during that time it had 20 000 citizens. Approximately such number of population (19 575 citizens) it reaches in 1959. In 1872-1874 the distinctive Revival master Kolyu Ficheto constructs the only at the Balkans covered bridge, which has been reconstructed in 1931 and till today it is one of the symbols of the town.
In1784 it is besieged and burnt by the invaders. Its population decreases as well due to the establishment of the Danube shipping association. In 1877 its citizens are 4600. By this way the centre of trade is transferred from Plovdiv to Ruse and Svishtov and Lovech loses its privileged position.
During the years the town develops not only as a commercial, but as an important educational and cultural centre as well. The people of Lovech participate actively in the struggles for an independent Bulgarian church. During the most difficult years of the ottoman yoke in Varosha the churches St. Nedelya and St.Virgin Mary, have been built, and during 1839 Dionisii Lovchanski has been elected for a Bulgarian bishop. In the beginning of the70s The Apostle of freedom Vasil Levski, while establishing the bases of the Internal Revolutionary organization, elects Lovech committee for a centre and denominates it Temporary government of Bulgaria. Beyond the name of the Apostle its Lovech adherents subscribe their names on the pages of our national history.During the time of April rebellion, the brave leader Todor Kirkov is hanged at Tabashki square.
During the Russian-Turkish war Lovech has been liberated twice with the assistance of the Russian armies. The final victory over the conquerors is gained on 22 August 1877. The heroism of Vasil Kolev and Tzacho Shishkov, who devoted their lives in a brave, but unequal struggle with Turkish armies is unforgettable.
After the Liberation the Turkish people deport themselves, and some of the Bulgarians as well. Liberated Lovech counts roughly 4600 people. A significant part of the craftsmen leave the town, because they have no markets for their goods.
The Liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish yoke plays the role of the bourgeois democratic revolution. Foreign goods start to appear in our country, local industry is established, which leads to bankruptcy of the wide people's masses.
During the first 22 years of liberated Bulgaria Lovech is a regional centre of the following counties Lovech, Troyan and Teteven. During the period from 1901 to 1959 it is a county centre, after which it becomes a regional town. From 1987 it is a regional centre.
Today Lovech is a beautiful and modern town, which carefully keeps the atmosphere of the previous century.