PILOT MUNICIPALITIES

The team have selected three large municipalities – Varna, Smolyan and Bolyarovo. The motives for this choice are different for each municipality. Varna, Zlatograd, Smolyan and Bolyarovo have been chosen as pilot municipalities.

VARNA MUNICIPALITY

Varna Municipality – Pilot Municipality for Study under project ДН 15 / 4  - 11.12.2017 Funded by the National Science Fund project "Creation of a Model for Safeguarding, Promotion and Socialization of the Christian Orthodox Monuments in Bulgaria"

The choice of Varna Municipality to be a pilot municipality under project ДН 15 / 4  - 11.12.2017 Funded by the National Science Fund project "Creation of a Model for Safeguarding, Promotion and Socialization of the Christian Orthodox Monuments in Bulgaria" has been motivated by the fact that on the territory of the municipality there are many Orthodox temples not only objects of pilgrimage but also tourist sites. The tourist interest in the region is understandable - Varna has long proved to be a modern and sought-after seaside resort. The interest of the tourists is not only in the natural resources, but also in the diverse cultural heritage of the region – the Roman baths, the exposition of Regional Historical Museum - Varna, the Pobiti stones, the Cathedral “Holy Assumption”, the Aladja Monastery Museum Complex, the Monastery St. St. Konstantin and Elena in the resort St. St. Konstantin and Elena, as well as the many churches in the smaller settlements.
Our research interest in the Municipality of Varna is provoked by the active actions of the local authorities for preservation, development and promotion of the cultural heritage on their territory. The municipality actively cooperates with the Varna Metropolis, and with common efforts and funds, new temples are built and the old ones are maintained and restored.
Regarding the inclusion of explored sites in tourist routes on the territory of Varna Municipality, the most important for us is the "Aladzha Monastery" Museum Complex, which, by decision of the Council of Ministers from 2015, has been managed for 10 years by the Municipality of Varna together with other sites that have the status of archaeologically immovable cultural values: the Roman Baths of Odessos, the Roman Bath, the Episcopal Basilica of Odessos, the Varna Eneolithic Necropolis and the Knights Monastery. In this way it is possible to protect the archaeological values ​​revealed, to speed up projects for their exposure and socialization and to organize cultural events in the open by the local authorities with the active participation of other institutions, individual citizens and business representatives. Local policies for the preservation of Orthodox temples create a model of management and their socialization by including them in tourist routes.

SMOLYAN MUNICIPALITY

Smolyan Municipality – Pilot Municipality for Study under project ДН 15 / 4  - 11.12.2017 Funded by the National Science Fund project "Creation of a Model for Safeguarding, Promotion and Socialization of the Christian Orthodox Monuments in Bulgaria" 

 The municipality of Smolyan occupies a large part of the Rhodope Mountains, where the population, for various historical reasons, is multi-religious. In most of the villages, Christians and Muslims have lived together for centuries. The problem with the preservation of Christian monuments on the territory of the municipality is not only of religious significance. This problem here is closely related to the preservation of national identity during the various historical periods. Therefore, the study and registration of the various activities of the local population, local authorities, the state and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for the preservation and the multiplication of Christian monuments is of paramount importance for the creation of a model valid for the country.
On the territory of the Municipality of Smolyan is located one of the biggest monasteries in Bulgaria - the Bachkovo Monastery, which is maintained and managed mainly by the Holy Synod and BOC. This great Christian monument is subject to great pilgrimage and cultural interest. It is registered in the 100 tourist sites of Bulgaria and is visited annually by thousands of tourists from the country and abroad.
But besides this monument of Christian culture of national significance, many churches and chapels can be found in the Smolyan region, in the big and small settlements, which are the subject of attention and care by the local population, the business, the municipal authorities and the BOC. These are the first three churches built during the Bulgarian Revival period in the villages of Pavelsko, Gela and Shiroka Luka. These churches are active, the priests and the laymen care for them. They are a subject of tourist interest, especially the church in Shiroka Luka, which is famous for its icons and frescoes.
Smolyan Municipality attracts tourists throughout the year thanks to its natural resources. The main attraction center is the resort Pamporovo, which is visited in winter and summer, as well as the natural sights around the town of Smolyan. Not far from it are the villages of Stoykite, Shiroka Luka, Chepelare, Pavelsko, Hvoyna. On the way from Plovdiv to Pamporovo is the natural phenomenon Chudnite Mostove /Wonderful bridges/, which attracts tourists almost all year round. It is quite natural that, thanks to the local authorities, the BOC and the citizens of Smolyan, the tourist interest will also cover the Orthodox temples on the territory of the municipality, old and new.
Many new temples are located on the territory of the Smolyan region. In the town of Smolyan, the newly built temple St. Vissarion Smolyanski. This is one of the largest new temples in the country built mainly with the funds of the big capital funds in Bulgaria.
In addition to the large temples in this area of ​​the country, old chapels are maintained in the lands of small and large villages and new ones are being built. Separate families and individuals, as well as business representatives, renovate and maintain the old chapels, erect new ones at the place of old ones thus multiplying and popularize the Orthodox temples. In this area of ​​the country, this kind of donor activity in respect of religious monuments is particularly popular. Newly built chapels by individual people are located in the villages of Stoykite, Pavelsko, Chokmanovo, Gela, Starsevo, not far from the town of Zlatograd. Everything that is built is maintained and protected by the population itself, which is a specific local policy.
 
BOLYAROVO MUNICIPALITY
Bolyarovo Municipality – Pilot Municipality for Study under project ДН 15 / 4  - 11.12.2017 Funded by the National Science Fund project "Creation of a Model for Safeguarding, Promotion and Socialization of the Christian Orthodox Monuments in Bulgaria"
 
Bolyarovo Municipality is the third municipality in Bulgaria selected by the team of the project "Creating a model for   Safeguarding, Promotion and Socialization of the Christian Orthodox Monuments in Bulgaria". The municipality is the smallest of the other two – Smolyan and Varna, but this indicator is the leading one. It is important for the project’s effectiveness to track the activities and policies regarding the protection of Christian cultural heritage in Bulgaria, not only in large municipalities but also in small ones that are more financially restricted. That was the main reason to select Bolyarovo Municipality. But besides this criterion, the municipality is important for research and for another more substantial cause. Bolyarovo Municipality is a crossroads of ancient civilizations where ethno-cultural processes from the northwest (Balkan Peninsula, Middle and Western Europe) to the southeast (Asia Minor and the Middle East) and vice versa. This determines the specificity and the richness of the cultural and historical heritage of this region, which is a reflection and result of a centuries-old history, bearing the imprints of turbulent events and incredible vicissitudes. 14 discovered archaeological sites, 5 ancient churches and 5 fortresses testify to a rich and ancient past, which Bolyarovo residents are proud of.
The municipality is located in the border regions of Bulgaria - its southeastern part and directly borders the Republic of Turkey. It is known that, for various historical reasons, the ethnic Bulgarian population lives on the other side of the border and continues to profess its native Christian religion. The most brilliant proof is the temples in the town of Kirkareli and the town of Edirne, which are active, they care not only for the local Christians, but also for the Bulgarian state, patriotic Bulgarians, cultural and educational institutions. Within the framework of cross-border cooperation Elhovo Municipality and Bolyarovo Municipality have various events and activities that illustrate good neighborly relations.
The administrative center of the municipality, comprising nineteen villages, is the town of Bolyarovo. In the center of the town stands the temple St. Dimitar built only two years after the final liberation of this region from the Ottoman rule, in 1887 the church was restored, now in operation. It is a result of the aspirations of Bulgarians - Christians from the village of Pasakoy (today’s Bolyarovo) for spiritual freedom and an independent church.
Bolyarovo Municipality with its 19 villages is interesting for us for other reasons, too. During the National Revival, the inhabitants of the village of Dereköy (today’s Voden) and the village of Achlatli (Golyamo Krushevo) take part in the church struggles of the Bulgarian people. They are the first villages in the region to go to the Bulgarian Exarchate. While the neighboring ones: Big Boyak (Sharkovo), Little Bohemian (Malko Sharkovo) and Yaylajuk (Gorska Polyana) remain within the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Today the municipality is very active in preserving, socializing and popularizing Orthodox churches. Since most of the churches on the territory of the municipality were built in the late 19th - early 20th century, they need special attention and care. Most of them have been renovated, restored and repaired, to which the local municipal governance has a major contribution. The municipality has developed and implemented several projects by which the Orthodox temples were renovated or fully restored. During the period 2008-2018 the temples in the villages of Kalin Vrah, Zlatinitsa, Ruzhitsa, Strandja were renovated and restored in various projects with the participation of the church board including the church St. Dimitar Solunski in the town of Bolyarovo. With the participation of the state in 2014, repairs were carried out including the roof structure of the church St. Ivan Rilski in the village of Sitovo, and in 2015 the churches in the villages of Mamarchevo, Malko Sharkovo, Sharkovo, Golyamo Krushevo were repaired and the temples were preserved.
 In the cultural calendar of Bolyarovo municipality, the Christian monuments occupy a well-deserved place. Here, together with the BOC, are celebrated St. George, Easter, Lazarovden, Dimitar’s Day –  an iconic temple holiday in Bolyarovo. Separately, the villages celebrate the holidays of their temples – Gorska Polyana village, Stefan Karadjovo village, etc.
As one of the biggest landmarks in the region is Malko Sharkovo Dam, near the border with Turkey  visited by tourists and nature lovers alike. This further strengthens the interest in Christian cultural heritage expressed by tourists to and from Turkey.
Despite the small municipalities in the country, the municipality of Bolyarovo actively participates in various national associations and unions and actively promotes the cultural heritage and the development of tourism. It is a member of the newly established Strandja Local Development Association, whose aim is to create a Euro-region with Turkey. It is also a member of the Association of Municipalities in the Association of Municipal Forests. In partnership with other municipalities in the region, the municipality of Bolyarovo has applied and will implement a project under the Operative Program "Support for the development of the regional tourist product and destination marketing" Tonzos - The Magic of Tundja. Marketing of tourist destination "Tundja-Yambol-Straldja-Bolyarovo".
 
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