The Ethnographic Complex “Etar” (or “Етъра” in Bulgarian) is an open-air exhibition of traditional Bulgarian crafts and trades near Gabrovo. My task today to give you a tour of this place that preserves the traditional arts and customs.
The open-air ethnographic museum “Etar” is located eight kilometres south of Gabrovo`s town centre. Its area is around 7 ha, and it includes more than 50 buildings, such as workshops and cafes. It was opened for visitors in September 1964. The main attractions in it, apart from the workshops, are the water installations. Etar was the old name of the river, which flows through the town of Gabrovo. Its current name is Yantra. By naming the complex after the name of the river, the founders wanted to stress the river's important role in the development and preservation of the local trades. And it worked. All workshops in the area are still functioning, they are not only an attraction. People have learned the trade from their parents, who in return did it from theirs, etc. They work and live in this area and preserve the cultural heritage of the country. Visitors can witness the craftsmen working from up-close and bring home a piece of their mastery.
You can reach this museum by car. The travel signs are directing you to the complex. “Etar” is located at the foothills of the mountain range. Entering it by car is forbidden, so there is a parking lot next to the entrance.
Since its establishment in 1964, the museum has not stopped working. It is honoured with an award for preservation of traditional trades, crafts and also for its unique water installations and techniques. This is why its symbol is a water wheel. The complex recreates the atmosphere of Bulgarian towns and villages from the 18th and 19th century. The buildings are copies of actual houses from that period. They are decorated with ornaments and symbols, typical for the architecture practices 200 years ago.
While walking around the complex, you can see authentic wood carvers, coppersmiths, bakers, herbalists, cutlers, weavers, furriers, turners, potters and many others at work. Apart from numerous workshops, you could also experience traditional Bulgarian cuisine, for example in the tavern "Ether".
The management of the museum organizes the courses for the above-mentioned crafts. On big national holidays, such as Easter or Christmas, folklore dancers can be seen around the museum`s buildings, making history come alive.
The open-air Ethnographic Museum “Etar” near Gabrovo offers not only a tour of the well-preserved Bulgarian crafts and trades but also access to a place that keeps the memory of the Bulgarian customs and traditions alive. Every one of us is part of a nation, no matter whether small or big, and we need more places like this to remind us of our roots and history!
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