About the village
Village of Marafeltsi
Marafeltsi dates back to the 1600s. Across the Balkan Range there were more than 300 other villages like it, hidden away and nestled high up in the mountains. The secluded area provided better protection from the Ottoman authorities. Therefore between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries the villages became isolated repositories of Bulgarian culture, religion and language. There is an old saying that since people stole the land they build on from the forest, one day the forest will reclaim its property.
Today there are 120 villages left and Marafeltzi is one of them. Surrounded by rolling hills, beautiful forest and picturesque landscape it shelters its few residents who keep alive the memory of our history and ancestors.They can tell you the passionate tale of Maria. She was beautiful and playful with many suitors but fell in love with Gardju, the rebel, who stole her hart against her parents wishes.
We (the residents of Marafeltsi) celebrate together all traditional Bulgarian holidays. The most specific one for Marafeltsi is called “Cherkoviste” and its marked on the 50th day after Easter. It is an old,religious tradition,celebrated in the forest, under a big oak tree in front of a stone carved cross. On that day the children make a big flower garland and together with the icon of Mother of God place them over the cross. The priest says a prayer for health and wellness. The ceremony is followed by a feast organized in the village center. You are invited to join!
Town of Elena
The town of Elena is situated in the high parts of the North Balkan, at a distance of 40 km from Veliko Tarnovo and 260 km from Sofia. The population of the town is approximately 6500 people.
According to the historical evidences, the Elena valley was inhabited as early as the late Neolith (4000 BC). There was life here during the Thracian, the Roman and the Early Byzantine time. The establishment of Elena as a settlement is related to the end of the Second Bulgarian State (the end of the 14th century). After the capital Tarnovo was conquered by the Ottomans in 1393, the Tarnovo boyars and leaders settled permanently in the region because their feudal possessions were here.
The economical prosperity of the town in the beginning of the 19th century was also grounds for development of the cultural and education processes. Today a large number of houses and public buildings of various architectural periods is preserved in the town of Elena. There are near 200 monuments of culture, and seven of them are of national significance. Among the buildings which are emblematic for the town are the museum house Ilarion Makariopolski. It is one of the oldest preserved houses. It was built around 1710-1715 and is situated in the center of the town. The house is a two-storey, with large eaves and herds. One of the leaders of the struggles for independent Bulgarian church Ilarion Makariopolski (1812 – 1875) was born, as well as the poet Stoyan Mihaylovski (1856 – 1927). The building nowadays is a part of the Museum of Revival and the National Liberation Struggles. Two museum expositions are placed in it – “Customs and culture of Elena during the Revival” and “Christian Art”.
Another interesting landmark of the town of Elena is the building of the Daskalolivnitsa – the first class school in Bulgaria. It was built in 1844. In its yard is also situated the Christian temple “St. Nikola” – the oldest temple in Elena and the region. The first written document for the existence of the church dates back from 1518. Its inner side impresses with a beautiful iconostasis and wall-paintings. Next to the temple “St. Nikolas” in 1837 was built the temple “The Assumption of Most Holy Virgin Mary”, which by the Liberation in 1878 was the largest temple in North Bulgaria with 33 meters length, 21 meters width and 25 meters height.
One more landmark in the town is the Popnikolova house, which is also a monument of culture of national significance. In it is placed the Paleontology museum, the collection of which includes fossils and minerals, found in the region of the town. The beautiful nature around Elena is a premise for the multiple possibilities for ecological tourism. Eight marked ecological pathways start between Elena to the neighboring village of Miykovtsi and they allow the tourists to enjoy the lovely Elena Balkan. The ecological pathways pass through centuries-old forests and lead to natural landmarks and historical localities. The Yovkovtsi dam, which is at a distance of 3 km from Elena, as well as the eight micro dams on the territory of the municipality, provide excellent possibilities for fishing and resting.«