At a distance of about 9 kilometers from the Bulgarian city of Gabrovo is situated the ethnographic and architectural complex ‘Etara’. Being an open-air museum, the complex aims to show the architectural and living traditions of the region of the city of Gabrovo from mid-XVIII century to the end of the first quarter of the XIX century and the culture and customs of the Bulgarians of that time. ‘Etara’ was created back in 1964 and has been considered an architectural and ethnographic cultural monument of national importance since 1971.
The museum consist of 50 sites in total – houses with craftsman’s workshops, various water and technical installations and other buildings. In ‘Etara’ is located the one and only collection of technical installations put in motion with the use of water – rollers, water-mills, fulling-mill, whetstone etc. In the craftsman’s bazaar (the main trading street) of ‘Etara’ there are 16 houses – exact reconstructions of buildings that have existed in the past in Gabrovo and its surrounding area. In the craftsman’s bazaar the visitors can observe the craftsmen’s work in real time.
A lot of crafts are exhibited in ‘Etara’ – bell-making (the making of wrought cow-bells), pottery-making, sugar-making (the making of sugar products), furriery, coppersmith’s trade (the making of copper utensils) and others. The visitors are able not only to observe the authentic technology used by the craftsmen, but also to buy the products created before their eyes. Another opportunity provided by the museum is the organisation of educational courses in the traditional crafts.
The visitors can watch the reconstructions of traditional customs during holidays like St. Lazar’s Day, which is eight days before Easter (Saturday before Palm Sunday), Midsummer Day (June 24), St. George’s Day (May 6), St. Elija’s Day (Jule 20) and others. Every year, the museum hosts the International Fair of National Crafts on September’s frst Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The fair gives an opportunity to craftsmen from Bulgaria and other countries to present the products they have created.
Every year in the complex are organised various competitions for children – for sourvaknitsas, martenitsas and scarecrows. During May there is a workshop for children paintings. During the summer period, every Saturday and Sunday in the craftsman’s bazaar there are open-air or in-house demonstrations of different traditional home activities – painting with vegetal dyes, knitting with maize verdure, using a potter’s wheel and others.
In the complex there is a hotel where the visitors can stay during the visit of ‘Etara’, as well as a restaurant where traditional dishes prepared from old local recipes can be tried. The easiest way to get to ‘Etara’ is by car (there is a paid parking lot near the entrance). However, for those who prefer the mass transport, there are regular bus lines from the city of Gabrovo. If you would like to undertake an educational course, it has to be arranged in advance.The working time is as follows: May 1 – September 30 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and October 1 – April 30 between 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.