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Etara Open-Air Museum
23.04.2007   R. Tzekova
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Etara open-air ethnographic museum has been around for 40 years to provide an unforgettable trip back in time. Situated 8 km to the south of the city of Gabrovo in the Central Balkan Range, it spreads over an area of 6 ha, incorporating 50 sites, water-run technical facilities, buildings housing craftsmen’s shops and others.

The open-air museum displays the architecture, way of life and economic entrepreneurship in the Gabrovo region over the second half of the 18th c. and the entire 19th c.

Museum caretaker Valentin Tinchev takes us on a leisurely walk along the cobblestone alleys of the museum grounds: “Around 10 museum sites, water mills, wooden-bowl and wine cask lathes, fuller mills, braid-making shops and such similar display a singular appreciation of the power of water”, he says.”

The shopping street represents the way crafts were practiced locally in the mid-19th c., when Gabrovo was a most industrially advanced town. The bridges, the clock tower, the monuments and the water fountains add up handsomely to grounds outlook.

Etara offers also overnight bread and board as well as inns and restaurants fitted to the time-honoured traditions of the area. The latest addition to the open-air museum is the  “Church of the Twelfth Day”, whose building replicates another in the Dryanovo region, lying nearby, which used to be a family home, school and church all at once.”
Etara offers live reproductions of customs and rituals as well as life-practices gone into oblivion. Visitors can watch sheep’s wool being washed in the river, wool teasing by hand, distaff and spindle weaving, dieing by natural colours, weaving on a horizontal domestic loom. You could also witness the way bread is baked and yogurt is made, butter is churned, plums are smoked, a beans stew is cooked, and plum marmalade is homemade.

Visitors can literally touch and feel anything that takes their fancy in the workshops, they can even try their hand at making an object detail, they will most definitely never be discouraged to do so”, says Tinchev.

“We have been running a line of hobby tourism. We’ve had students coming over from Britain for a 10-day long apprenticeship at the workshops. When they go back they take with them a complete piece made by them. A dozen years or so ago we had a Frenchman who apprenticed himself for 3-4 months and all by himself produced a horse-cart and took it back home.”

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