The Roman bridge
The area where our campsite is located is with a strongly emphasized religious, cultural and historical air. One of the examples for such a historical atmosphere nearby is the Roman bridge that was built hundreds of years ago by gaffer Stoyan Gabrovaliyata. This notable for our region attraction is accessible for the visitors of Campsite Kapinovski Monastery via a pleasant forest route.
The centuries history of our lands have preserved evidence for numerous bridges that were built and then, destroyed through the years. Unfortunately, the number of the preserved bridges with their original architecture is quite small. They are the only remained silent witnesses of our rises and falls, of noble goals and low passions. Time seems to be stopped for them, lost in the silence of the water that washes the joys and the misery away...
At the Gornia boaz region, 1 km beyond the wall of the Yovkovtsi dam and about 3 km south of the campsite, the ruins of the “old” the “Roman” bridge as locals call it is detached and closely connected with the Elena region history. “The old bridge” on Vesselina river is built with gaffer Stoyan Grabrovaliyata's money. The Elena's notable, hated by the locals due to its arbitrariness, was sabred in the “Saint Nikola” church (town of Elena ) for his bad behaviour. It was written in Marko priest's “Elena chronicles for the conflict Turkish time” the following: “...1780 year. Gaffer Stoyan was murdered on the 1st of October, on Sunday”. Also, in the preserved memorials left by people from that historical period, it is also written: “Gaffer Stoyan used to know his sins and that was why he was writing that the mass of the locals is fed up with the greedy gaffers' frauds in Elena. But they kept their hate deeply in their souls. And where gaffers' curses could not pass, the knife and the axe used to come for help. Stoyan Gabrovaliyata was, though, killed at public place, right next to “Saint Nikola” church, with an axe and right after he gout out of the temple. For those actions of his, when he increased housing taxes in 1780 year”.
Realizing how many bad things he had done to the locals from Elena, gaffer Stoyan decided to clear his consciousness by donating money for bride building on the way to Gorniya boaz. The building of such a socially significant facility had provided a possibility for the trade between the nearby villages and the administrative centre Elena to be improved. Another benefit is the simplifying of passing from one to the other side of the Balkan.
Nearby the bridge, on a rocky bay a notice is engraved, in 8 lines and in old Bulgarian language with the following text:
To be well known
how this happened
the way and the bridge
Pass it and respect,
but don't curse"
On the other side, in correspondence to the national traditions, the bridge represents the connection between the dead's and the alive's worlds. It is also connected with the idea for the easy and faultless soul's passing straight to Heaven. Naturally, the righteous people overcome this obstacle unlike the sinners, who fall into it and burn in Hell's fires. This is why besides the functional aims, the gaffer-contributor has an aim to redeem his sins, when donating the money for this bridge building. In order to emphasize on the bridge and to make it eternal, the text end with imperative words "Pass it and respect, but don't curse". The symbols of the fully human, Christian aims for the building of the bridge, are also completed with an image of Latin cross engraved in the rock nearby the written part at the right side.
Building the rocky bridge, engraving the notice and the cross image nearby eloquently speak about one deep and conceptual point the gaffer from Elena wanted to make. Bad or good according to people from his time, Stoyan Gabrovaliyata provides money for the bridge to be built and even though damaged and not used for long time it shows the heroic fight with the natural forces. So let's show the appropriate tolerance to the thing the gaffer from Elena has left behind himself. And the most precious form of tolerance is the desire to identify yourself with the person you preach it to, as well as to give up from your own principles that you usually tend to judge him with and to try to be in his shoes.
So "Pass it and respect, but don't curse".
The Kapinovski Monastery
The Kapinovski Monastery “Saint Nikolay Wonderworker” is located about 20km south from Veliko Tarnovo and only few hundreds step away from our campsite. Not far away from the saint chapel is situated Kapinovo village that has given the name of the monastery. The monastery, itself, is placed in the curved region that is filled with wild greenery, on the left shore of Vesselina river. Only 200 m away a beautiful waterfall with plenty of running down the white cliffs crystal clear water. The Kapinovski monastery, as well as the nearby Plakovsky monastery have their own story that is connected with the Medieval time and capital Veliko Tarnovo's fortune and progress. The legends and the evidence of few, but still preserved chronicles it becomes clear that the Kapinovski monastery dates from the time of the Second Bulgarian Country.
The glorious history of this significant Christian object, as well as of all the other created objects of this type from the Middle ages, was stopped from the Ottoman invasion in Bulgarian lands during 1393-1396 period. The monastery was robbed, set to fire and its activity was temporary over. However, somehow it did not stop forever. There is evidence for the renewing of the life in the monastery during the hard time in XVI century. From that time ahead it used to be put in bankruptcy dozens of times, but the local Christian people stubbornly continued its life. In the renewed monastery from XIX century several ruins can be found to point this intensity of people's desire to revive the building. Some of them is the interesting name list with triptych form from 1700 year. The chapel advanced and started to has active spiritual life during the first half and the middle of XIX century. The renewed church from the same period of time has similar to the Arbanasi's churches from XVII and XVIII centuries plan and structure. Their builders were the masters from Tryavna city. The monastery patio has spring well and the housing buildings attract the attention with interesting capitals, carving details, rock hills and other decors.
The Kapinovski monastery from XIX century is quite interesting. Just like in all monasteries nearby Veliko Tarnovo, here, there used to be active education activity typical for the Bulgarian revival period. Here, the first Bulgarian metropolitan Sofroniy Vrachansky was ordained and before that had made and left his first copying of the well-known “Slav-Bulgarian history” by Paisiy Hilendarsky. A furnished monastery school had great activity here. All of these facts speak of the overall idea for the Kapinovski monastery as a fireplace for the Bulgarian intellectual and cultural inheritance progress, as a place, where the strong national traditions were established during the centuries, as a place, where the Bulgarian national talents were kept.
The monastery and its churchmen actively participate in several national liberation conspiracies organized in Tarnovo in the area are given shelter to participants in revolutionary rebounds. Speaking of which, probably, the most curious for the tourists story is the monastery room, where Vasil Levski used to spend some nights. Here, Levski's icons are kept, as well as the cross the hero wanted to keep in his room. “Turkish people have come here many times, but even a single "zaptieh" has not remained to stock the monastery. All of them entered the building to steal, because they thought that here is where the mint is placed. But it wasn't. However, the rumor saved Levski's life numerous times and he could escape every time he felt threatened.”, says priest Nikodim.
Today, the Kapinovski chapel is settled for girls, which is the reason why it is so well-maintained. The beauty of the nearby region that is so convenient for camping tourism, the richness of historical and cultural monuments make the interest towards it bigger and bigger.
The Kapinovski Monastery Region
The name of the region is still a mystery. History experts are in dilemma whether it comes from the Bulgarian word for blackberry “kapina” or from the Turkish “kapia”, which translated means big gates. The massive building ruins can be seen even today – along the old Roman way to Elena, where the old village residential area was placed. When in 1935, the local authorities tried to replace the name of the region with Vratnik (the Bulgarian word for kapia) the locals made it to preserve its current name, but changed a single letter in the name of the old writing style and this is is how it started sounding like kapina – the fruit word. As a matter of fact, Kapinovo is one of the oldest village in Veliko Tarnovo region. The village has more than 820-year old history that began from the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Back in those time, the village was a feudal ownership of Tarnovo's kings. About 80 years after the establishment of the village, it was added with the Kapinovski monastery area. Through the years the saint chapel brought beneficial influence on the idea for making this region an economy and spiritual center. Due to the local fresh air, wild forest, the coolness coming from the Vesselina river and the wonderful nature nearby the Kapinovski monastery this piece of land provides the visitors with opportunities for amazing camping tourism and relaxation conditions.