Kalofer is a small town, located at the foot of Botev peak, 17 kilometers of Karlovo, 22 kilometers of Sopot, 56 kilometers of Plovdiv and 164 kilometers of the capital Sofia. It is situated in close proximity to the Central Balkan National Park and is an entrance to the park.
According to a legend, the present town of Kalofer was populated in the middle of the 16th century by a group of men, led by Kalifer Voyvoda who were attacking passing Turkish caravans. Due to his inability to deal with Kalifer voyvoda and his men, the sultan was forced to allow the rebels to settle in these lands under the condition that they stop attacking the caravans. The legend also tells that the men stole women from the nearby town of Sopot for brides.
Over the next centuries, Kalofer grew as an important culture and trading center. It was called Altan Kalofer (Golden Kalofer).
The famous Bulgarian poet and revolutionist Hristo Botev was born in Kalofer. Nowadays his house turned into a memorial complex, is one of the most interesting tourist sites in the town. Quite a lot can be learned there about the revolutionary history of Bulgaria and one of its main participants. Tourists can also visit the school of teacher Botyo Petkov (Hristo Botev’s father) and learn more about the methods, by which children were taught at those times; the tourists can also ride a horse or walk along some of the horse riding or pedestrian routes in the National Park, or to be participants in some of the traditional festivals.
One of the most interesting festivals in the city is the celebration of Jordan’s day and the birth of Hristo Botev on 6 January. The famous Kalofer dance (Kalofersko horo) is played on that day. The ritual begins early in the morning with a festive liturgy. After that a large group of men and boys go to the river. There, a priest throws a cross in the water – this is a ritual for luck and health. The cross is brought out of the water and given to the youngest participant in the event. After that, the men dance in the icy waters of the river and sing songs. Later, the dancing continues at the sides of the river, and the celebration of the birth of Hristo Botev begins.
The newest museum in the town is the Kalofer house of history – a kind of an ethnographic and cultural center of the town, representing its living legacy – the weaving and the traditional local rags and wraps, the traditional clothing and festival costumes, musical instruments and a reconstruction of a typical Bulgarian guest room.
Also quite interesting are the multiple existing churches, monasteries and chapels. The Male and Female monasteries of Kalofer are the most important ones among them. The Female monastery is located about 5-10 minutes walking from the center of town and is surrounded by a beautiful garden. The Male monastery is located about 15-20 minutes by car or 1 hour by foot from the town center and is located in a picturesque valley on the bank of Byala reka; it is surrounded by picturesque mountains.
The town has preserved its Bulgarian Renaissance architecture, and its tradition and way of life. The Kalofer crafts preserved to the present day, such as the Kalofer lace crochet, are one of the most popular attractions.
The accommodation options in Kalfer are numerous – from traditional Renaissance houses to modern hotels, and the restaurants offer traditional Bulgarian meals and local specialties.
Kalofer is a starting point for conquering the highest peak in Central Balkan National Park – Botev peak (2,376 meters above the sea level) – from the south; one of the paths, starting from the town, leads to the highest waterfall in Bulgaria – Raiskoto Praskalo – 124 meters high. The path starts from the locality of Panitsite, located 7 kilometers north of the town, and passes through Ponyakya, Paradzhika, Kamenlivetsa, Rogacheva Gora and Malak Kupen areas, only to lead after 4 kilometers to Rai (Heaven) hut at the foot of Raiskoto Praskalo.
You can reach the peak of Botev from Rai hut by the panoramic Tarzan’s path, in about 2.5 – 3 hours.
The eco path Byalata Reka can also introduce you to many beautiful places in the Central Balkan Park.
Kalofer is an established eco-tourism destination. The visitor’s information center is managed and directed by the local eco-tourism association “Centralen Balkan Kalofer” and is open throughout the year. The employees at the office will help you in planning your trip and accommodation or hiring a guide for some of the longer routes.
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