It is located 75 km south of Bourgas, 60 km southwest of Tsarevo, 470 km southeast of Sofia and 9 km from the border with Turkey. Here is the only border checkpoint for the entire area (BCP). An international road passes through Malko Tarnovo and connects the European countries with those from the Near East.
Main roads leading to Malko Turnovo are:
- Main road Bourgas – junction Poda – the village of Marinka – the village of Krushevets –Bosna area – the village of Zvezdets – Malko Turnovo
- Bourgas – Tsarevo – the village of Bulgari – the village of Gramatikovo – Malko Turnovo
- Harmanli - Topolovgrad - Elhovo - Bolyarovo - Tagarevsko Inn – the village of Varovnik – Bosna area – the village of Zvezdets – Malko Turnovo
Public transport is provided by transport companies from Burgas and Malko Turnovo. Unfortunately, there is no public transport between Malko Turnovo and Tsarevo. The nearest town on the Turkish side is Kirklareli (Lozengrad) – 45 km away.
The town is situated in the middle of the valley.
Coordinates: 41°58’46.80” N, 27°31’25.75” E, 344 m above sea level
The residents of the town of Malko Turnovo and the villages in the region are descendants of the old Bulgarian population. In old times they lived in small villages and hamlets around today’s Malko Turnovo. This has been confirmed by the available documents and research. Evidence of this are the toponymic names of places in the area, as well as the typical Bulgarian given names, contained in the preserved church registers.
Some claim that the name of the place derives from the profusion of prickly thorn in this area. The initial Trunovo (resembling a prickly thorn) changed to Turnovo, and to distinguish it from the old Bulgarian capital, people added "Malko" (small) to it.
An older name has not been preserved, although the settlement existed in antiquity (IV - III century BC). There was a metallurgical center, affiliated with the territory of Bizia (today’s Wiese in Turkey), the last capital of the Thracian Kings.
A big change in cultural and economic terms occurred in 330 when Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople. Thus, once a peripheral mountain, Strandja happened to be very close to the new business, economic and cultural center.
As the nearest major area for the extraction of ore, the mountain became the main source of metal supply for the needs of the new capital. 70 old mines were found just on the territory of Malko Turnovo municipality and in the area around the town – four furnaces.
A large number of monuments have been found in the area ofthe town – megaliths, mound necropolises, ancient buildings, a fortress – revealing the importance of the town in the Thracian and Roman eras. In a quadrilateral marble altar, discovered in Mishkova Niva area, there is information about old ore-mining in this region. This monument and many other traces are enough evidence of the fact that the center of the Roman metalurgical industry in Strandja was near Malko Turnovo.
Malko Turnovo, the town we know today, was founded in 1628. During the first two centuries of its development, livestock breeding developed rapidly and remained the main means of living until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The residents of Malko Turnovo experienced two major migrations. The first was caused by the Kurdjali who tortured the population. The second migration was after the Russo-Turkish War in 1829. But the largest-scale migration was after the Liberation in 1878, when the town remained within the Ottoman Empire. The displacement was so great that it was not until 1900 that the Bulgarian population in the area of Lozengrad and Malko Turnovo reached the numbers from before the war.
The most important event in the more recent history of the town remains its becoming an educational center and a center of revolutionary struggles. In the early 19th century a church school was opened in Malko Turnovo, and in the 1940s – a secular school. Thirty years later a school for girls was opened here. In the second half of XIX century Malko Turnovo was a nice, rich town with a population of nearly 8,000 inhabitants – Bulgarians. The Bulgarian spirit, customs and traditions were eagerly maintained. In 1902 a hall for theatrical performances was opened in the town. After the Berlin treaty that followed the Russo-Turkish War, Malko Turnovo remained within the Ottoman Empire. The whole of Malko Turnovo district actively participated in the Preobrajensko Uprising (1903). A District revolutionary committee functioned here and Gotse Delchev, Mihail Gerdjikov, and Georgi Kondolov resided in the town. Many people from the town took part in the revolutionary struggles: Stamat Ikonomov, Diko Djelebov, Voyno Royanov, Lefteri Mechev and others. The people of Malko Turnovo were represented with dignity at the congress held in Petrova Niva.
During the suppression of the Ilindensko-Preobrajensko Uprising in 1903 Malko Tarnovo suffered a lot. There were about 1,200 houses in the village most of which were looted and over 5000 people were forced to flee. Many people were killed.
Malko Turnovo was finally reunited with Bulgaria after the Balkan Wars, on October 25, 1913.
Small, but especially attractive is the only town in the heart of Bulgarian Strandja. It is located in a karst valley between Rezovska River and Mecha Reka River, and is surrounded by high wooded hills.
The town has 2447 inhabitants (data of 01.02.2011), but there is a large secondary school where children from the whole region study. The healing springs and ayazmi (holy spring), the monuments of historical and cultural heritage imbue the town with unique atmosphere and attract many tourists from Bulgaria and abroad. The tranquility, the proximity to unspoiled and unique nature, the variety of routes and landmarks around M. Turnovo make it a favorite holiday spot. The climate here is particularly beneficial for treatment of lung diseases and the town is visited by many people, especially children with such health problems.
Today the town is a starting point for visits to the villages of Brashlyan, Stoilovo, Slivarovo, Gramatikovo and also for visits to sites in Turkey: the town of Kirklareli (Lozengrad) – a district center; the town of Wiese – the central residence of the Thracian dynasty Asti (Bizia) with the only remains of an ancient amphitheater in Strandja (II century AD), and with remains of an ancient fortress, St. Sofia Church (VI c); Dupnitsa cave; the village of Kayakyoy (ancient Salmidessos and medieval Midia) with St. Nikola rock monastery (VI c); Edirne and Istanbul.
The area surrounding Malko Turnovo offers a wide choice of interesting places for relaxation among nature – preserved forest areas with numerous springs, chapels, over 60 centuries-old trees. Only 5 km southwest of the town is the highest point in the Bulgarian Strandja – Golyamo Gradishte peak (710 m), which offers a spectacular view of the hills of Strandja, and in clear weather you can even see the Black Sea.
The numerous artifacts, architectural elements and sculptures that have been discovered prove that there used to be a rich ancient settlement, whose economic prosperity had been determined by its location at the crossroads, by the vast iron ore field, the dense oak forests and the large deposits of marble and granite. Roads used to connect it with Adrianople, Bizia, Apollonia, Deultum, and Marcianopolis.
Near the town of Malko Turnovo, accessible for visits are St. Bogoroditza chapel – 3 km northwest of the town in Peikova area, and "Bozheyme" chapel – 3 km to the southeast in Tsarnogorovo area. In old times there used to be a little monastery with a holy spring there. In the early nineteenth century there was a big village fair which was attended by people from the surrounding villages. Today the chapel has been restored and is visited on Ascension Day (Spasovden).
The symbol of the city is Golemiyat Vris (spring) built in 1862. Before it was covered, it used to be ayazmo (holy spring) where prayers for rain were performed.
Interesting sites to visit:
Historical museum with a natural history collection
The five exhibitions of the museum are located in three houses, typical representatives of the Strandja National Revival architecture. The first one houses archaeological monuments found on sites in and around the town. Icon paintings are presented in a separate exposition and the collection contains works by local painters. Special attention is paid to the Preobrajensko Uprising, and the ethnographic collection contains authentic artifacts and items of clothing from the East Rupska ethnographic area, part of which is Malko Turnovo region. If you visit the natural history collection, you will have an exciting experience becoming familiar with the nature of Strandzha – use the phone booth to "talk" with the birds, sign up for an unusual "language course" and if you are not afraid, enter the dark room to experience the forest of Strandja by night.
The Assumption of Bogoroditza Orthodox Church
It is located in the city center. It was founded in 1745 on the site of an ancient Thracian sanctuary. The present-day church was built in 1830. A marble slab built into the south wall of the temple gives information about the year of construction, and also tells that it is a "Bulgarian Orthodox Church", restored for the third time and consecrated on "May 9, 1899".
The Russian army of General Dibitch Zabalkanski took part in its construction in 1830. The church now houses more than 150 icons, among which are beautiful examples of the Strandja icon painting school. Some of them date from the early XIX c - St. Trinity, St. John the Baptist, St. Nikola, etc.
St. Trinity East Catholic Church
It was built between 1931 and 1936. It houses icons from St. St. Cyril and Methodius church in Adrianopolis. In 2000 Bishop Hristo Proykov declared the church a place for commemorative worship.
On May 25, 2002 while visiting, Pope John Paul II crowned the Chenstohovskata icon of Virgin Mary – Patroness of the unity of Christians.
Some of the residents of Malko Turnovo joined the adopted in 1860 Union with the Holy See. Preaching in the town was carried out in Bulgarian, a Catholic church was built, and a Bulgarian Catholic school was opened.
Thracian cult complex in Mishkova Niva area
Thracian tombs and mound necropolis in Propada area
Thracian rock sanctuary in the Kamenska Barchina
Holy Trinity Chapel – located in Pryaslopat area, about 2 km west of the town
St. Bogoroditza Chapel – a chapel and a healing spring, 8 km northwest of the town, in Peikovo area
St. Bogoroditza Chapel – about 4 km southeast of the town in Chernogorovo area – one of the most beautiful in the region of Malko Turnovo. Since 1914 the traditional Chernogorovski fair has been held here on the day of Golyama Bogoroditza (28.08).
More information about the town and the landmarks around it can be obtained from:
The localtourist information centers – one of them is located in the town center, behind the The Assumption of Bogoroditza Church. The other one is 2 km from the city, in Pryaslopat area. It has been set up to cater for tourists visiting the Thracian cult complex in Mishkova Niva area, the remains of a Thracian fortress on Golyamo Gradishte peak, the Thracian tombs in Propada and the Thracian rock sanctuary in Kamenska Barchina.
Visitors’ InformationCentre of Directorate of Natural ParkStrandja – located in the white house near the new market. This is the first center of the Directorate of the Park which provides information about natural resources, accommodation and visits, but at the same time the modules of its small exposition are interactive and allow for learning about Strandja and its biodiversity in an enjoyable and attractive way.