Elena A town (population of 7,471 people, 300 m above sea level) is situated in the Elena Valley, in the northern approaches to Elena – Tvurditsa Part of the Central Balkan Mountains.
It is 40 km southeast of Veliko Turnovo and 36 km of Gorna Oryahovitsa, 28 km southeast of Kilifarevo, 40 km north of Tvurditsa, 79 km northwest of Sliven and 280 km northeast of Sofia.
History, The region of the present day town was inhabited as far back as the Late Neolithic Age.
An ancient road also ran in the area along which the armies of Philip II and of Alexander of Macedon passed during their campaigns in the Danubian lands.
Numerous remains of ancient fortresses are evidence that Elena Valley had been well fortified during the different historical periods.
Backin the Middle Ages there had been a settlement here. A settlement of the name Mezra (a deserted village) Istrumena lliana was documented in 1430.
In a message of the late 15th century there is reference to a village named Elena, that had been a pass on the road from Tvurditsa to Turnovo1 and its population guarded the pass, where by it was exempted from any taxes.
At the end of the 16 century Elena was already a village, with an established status within the frameworks of the economic and administrative system of the Empire.
But the guardians of the pass from Elena, irreconcilable to the arbitrariness of the Turkish governors, abandoned their obligations as guardians, left their native places and took the path of Bulgarian haidouk rebels, joining the companies of Kara Dobri, Elena Voivode, Mladen Voivode.
The unsubdued spirit of the inhabitants of Elena also found expression in their involvement in the uprising prepared by Todor Balina and Pavel Dzhordzhich in Eastern Bulgaria in 1598.
This spirit made them also support the attempt at an uprising after the defeat of Turnovo Plotin 1686.
Considerable changes occured in the economic growth of the region during the second half of the 18 century. The development of handicrafts flourished. In Elena were produced tailored vests and home-woven frieze, ironsmiths worked, silk worm breeding developed as did trade in silk and silkworm seed; ropes, carpets and belts of sheep wool were made, earthenware was produced.
Gradually Elena also changed its appearance: solid houses were built, along with churches, bridges and drinking fountains. The streets, covered by cobbles, were lit by petrol lamps, water supply systems were also made. The settlement was considerably damaged by Kurdzhaliy Turkish brigands, who plundered it and set it on fire in 1800.
In 1843, Ivan Momchilov, the inhabitant of Elena, established the first class school for the training of teachers, called by Petko R. Slaveikov ‘Daskaloliv-nitsa’ (Teacher Brewery).
In 1874, Doino Grammatik made an Elena copy of Father Paisiy’s ‘Slavonic-Bulgarian History. Elena was declared a town in 1860. The local population manifested its freedom – loving spirit in the years of the National Revival, too Men of Elena took part in Velchova Zavera Plot (1856), in the uprising of Captain Grandfather Nikola (1856), in Turnovo Uprising (1862).
There were local townsmen in the legion of Rakovski, in the rebel detachments of Panayot Hitov, of Filip Totyu, of Hadzhi Dimiter and Stefan Karadzha, of Hristo Botev. The population was also involved in the preparation of the April 1876 Uprising. Georgi S. Rakovski and Vassil Levski repeatedly came into the town in connection with their revolutionary activities.
The latter set up Elena Secret Revolutionary Committee in 1871. During the Russo – Turkish War of Liberation the town and its surroundings were an arena of fierce battles. During their withdrawal to Sliven, the Turks set on fire the best houses on the main street of the town, as well as the new school.
Among the Russian troops, which were transferred from the region of Kessarevo and Dzhyulinitsa to Elena, in pursuit of the Turks, was 13th Hussar Regiment of Narva, commanded by Colonel Alexander Pushkin, the son of the great Russian poet A. S Pushkin. After the Liberation, Elena became a centre of a big county.
The town was the birthplace of Hadzhi Yordan Bradata (the Beard), a participant in Velchova Zavera Plot, of Marion Makariopolski, one of the leaders of the struggle for a national church, of Sava Katrafilov, member of Botev’s rebel detachment, of the revolutionaries the Kurshovski Brothers, of writers Stoyan Mihailovski and Petko Y. Todorov.
For its eventful history, surviving Revival Period atmosphere and lovely natural scenery, Elena has been a destination of enhanced tourist interest.