Etar ethnographic museum
Etar Museum – a living picture of a bygone era!
If you step outside the boundaries of the only open-air ethnographic museum in Bulgaria, you find yourself in a world different from the modern one – the world of the Bulgarian Revival. Here the water turns the wheel of a centuries-old mill, and the cobblestones underfoot remind us that the true beauty of life is hidden in the experience of the emotion of touching the craftsmanship of our ancestors.
The only collection of operating water facilities in Bulgaria is located in the Etar Museum.
Etar is the ancient name of Yantra – the river that passes through the town of Gabrovo. It was chosen as the name of the museum as a symbol of the connection between water and the development of crafts in the region. Etar Regional Ethnographic Open-Air Museum has the only collection of water-powered technical facilities in Bulgaria. The collection was established gradually and includes facilities still in use today, once used in the livelihood of the Balkan people: two mills, a threshing floor, two rollers, a bullfighter, a braided chamber, two lathes for harbors and cups, a grinder. Thanks to a pasting system that existed in the past, later corrected and shaped, water drives mechanisms that wash, sharpen knives, grind wheat, beat woolen fabrics, turn wooden vessels, weave woolen threads.
The craft bazaar is still alive today, as it was during the Revival.
The architectural ensemble Crafts Bazaar presents a main city street with buildings from the 19th century, in which there are active craft workshops, shops, cafes and homes of craftsmen and merchants. The ensemble of houses includes the reproduction of original architectural samples that existed in Gabrovo and its surroundings. Sakov’s house impresses with its numerous windows on the second floor, as such buildings from the period of the Bulgarian Revival are not common. In the workshops, before the eyes of visitors, the masters themselves produce and sell their products, as in the past, and visitors can observe old techniques for processing metal, leather, wood, clay, wool, goat and other natural raw materials. They can look at original handicraft tools, enjoy the skills of the masters and take home their products. At the Bazaar you can taste simid, banitsa and pretzel, try pestil, white jam, halva, homemade candies and other delicacies, or drink coffee brewed on sand.
For younger visitors there is an outdoor playground, where children learn new things through fun. You will also see hydraulic installations such as rollers, water mills, etc., and the most interesting thing for visitors is that they are put into operation. In Etara, several recreations of traditional Bulgarian festivals and customs are organized, such as Saint George, the saint of Lazar and others. Normally, the International Popular Crafts Fair is held annually on the first weekend of September, where masters from all over the country and abroad present their crafts. The open-air museum is open all year for visitors, and there is a hotel and restaurant with meals prepared according to authentic Bulgarian recipes.