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Elena ↓
The town of Elena is situated in a beautiful mountainous area, surrounded by the imposing hills and peaks of the Elena-Tvurditsa ridge of the Balkan mountain. It lies in a valley of the same name, 280km to the northeast of Sofia. The area of the town and its surroundings has been populated since the Neolite era. The present-day town had already grown into a large village by the 16th c. It prospered during the 18-19th c. as a centre of crafts, trade, education and revolutionary (i.e. anti-Ottoman) activity and was declared a town in 1860. At that time, the town was famous for its produce of aba (coarse woolen cloth and upper male garments made of it), iron, and silkworm breeding. In 1843, a citizen of Elena Ivan Momchilov established the first School for Training of Teachers in Bulgaria, which has survived to date. In addition, the citizens of Elena took active part in the region's biggest revolutionary uprisings of the 19th century Velcho's Plot (1835), Captain Dyado Nikola's Uprising (1856) and the Turnovo Uprising (1862). Regretfully, during the Liberation War of 1877-1878, a large part of Elena was destroyed by fire, though about 130 buildings of the Bulgarian Renaissance period are still preserved. Some of the most prominent buildings of that time are the teachers? training school, the clock tower of 1812 (still working) and the Popnikolov House, which is almost entirely made of wood. The former school for teachers currently hosts the town's museum. Outside the town, one can visit the 8-century old Kapinovski monastery (25km to the northeast of Elena), the Plachkovo monastery (2-3km to the northwest of the Kapinovski cloister), the fish-rich Yovkovtsi Dam or just set off on a hiking tour in the mountain above the town.
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