Situated in Northwest Bulgaria, Dobursko is a village in the Razlog municipality and the Blagoevgrad province. It is nestled in the southern slopes of Rila Mountains, 1070 above sea level, 180 km from Sofia, 70km from Blagoevgrad and 17 km from Bansko. Running through the village is the Klinets River, a tributary of Klinoshtitsa River.
Every year on Epiphany (January 6) Dobursko hosts a folklore festival. It is related to the health and fertility ritual of retrieving a consecrated cross from the water. Another popular custom is Koleduvane (singing Christmas carols) observed on January 6 and 7. It is performed by women.
Remains of a Roman furnace for bricks and tiles dating from 2nd-4th century AD have been found in the vicinity of Dobursko.
The earliest document that mentions Dobursko (then Gnidobradsko) is the Rila Charter of Tsar Ivan Shishman from 1378.
Legend has it that after the battle near the village of Klyuch in 1014 the blindfolded soldiers of Tsar Samuil headed for the Rila Monastery. A severe winter forced them to stop and settle at the site of the present-day village. Their wounds were healed by a medicinal spring they found in the locality. The soldiers were the first inhabitants of Dobursko. Some of them later founded the renowned Dobursko School of music where singing and rebec playing were taught for three years. The blind singers that passed the exams left the school and earned their living by singin epic and religious songs all over the country. They even created their own beggars’ language – a mixture of Bulgarian, Greek, Wallachian and Gypsy. The school survived until the 20th century.
Building and trade boomed during the reign of Ivan Assen II. Defensive fortresses, monasteries and churches were erected, including some of the chapels in Dobursko.
In the 14th century Razlog and Dobursko maintained brisk contacts with the Rila Monastery and the monasteries in Sveta Gora (Mount Athos). Dobursko lies on the road linking the monasteries through the valley of the Mesta River via Nevrokop-Drama and the Ser Plain.
A Turkish document of 1753 mentions Dobursko as one of the vakif villages in the Rila Mountains that enjoyed special rights. It is referred to as Nidobronska. Until the end of the 18th century Dobursko was the richest village in the Razlog valley. Its inhabitants were mainly stock-breeders. During the Ottoman domination the local merchants imported cotton from Northern Greece and sold it in Austria, Germany and Italy. Because of their prosperity, the village received certain privileges.
The first school in Dobursko opened in 1861. In 1876 a revolutionary committee was founded as part of the 4th revolutionary district. It was headed by Velyo Chergov. Despite the careful preparations of the April Uprising, the Ottoman authorities discovered the revolutionary committee and arrested its members. After the national liberation in 1878 Dobursko remained within the confines of the Ottoman Empire. During the Kresna-Razlog uprising the village was pillaged and destroyed by fire. It was liberated in 1912, and one year later a royal decree issued at the request of the village inhabitants renamed it Dobursko. During the first years after the Liberation, a large number of families moved to the villages of Bachevo, Dupnishko (present-day Kocherinovo), Dorkovo, and the Kazanluk area..
Културни и исторически забележителности
Church of SS Theodore Thiron and Theodore Stratilat
The church is the dominant landmark of Dobursko. It was built either in the 11th century or in 1614, according to other scholars. Above its entrance are the images of the two saints that gave the name to the church. Theodore Thiron and Theodore Stratilat were Greek warriors who were killed because of their Christian faith.
The church is a three-nave basilica half-dug into the ground according to the Ottoman requirement for Christian churches. This supports the theory that it was erected in the 17th century.
To the left of the door are the portraits of the donors Bogdan, Hasiya and his son, and the three masters who built the church – Spas, Stanko and Smilen. According to a legend Hasia brought sacred soil from Christ’s grave.
The church was painted in 1672. In 1973-1877 the frescoes were restored and cleaned from candle soot.
In the 19th century the Ottoman authorities turned the church into a bathhouse.
In front of the altar are the icons of St. Theodore Thiron, St. Theodore Stratilat, the Holy Virgin, Christ, John the Baptist and Archangel Michael. Behind the altar is gilt cross featuring Christ and the Holy Mother of God in the center. Noteworthy are the icons representing the Transfiguration and the Resurrection of Christ. There are quite a few images of female saints in this church as well as is a picture of Samuil’s soldiers washing their blind eyes.
The healing spring in the church courtyard is mentioned in the legend about Samuil’s blindfolded soldiers. The Church of SS Theodore Thiron and Theodore Stratilat has been declared a national monument of culture. It is on the list of the 100 tourist sites in Bulgaria.
The Church of the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple built in 1860 houses a richly ornamented wood-carved iconostasis. It is the work of iconographers from the Bansko school.
St. Theodore Thiron and Theodore Stratilat
Working hours: 8:00m am – 5:00 pm
Saturdays and Sundays: by advance requests only
Worth visiting is the Strokalo waterfall. It is 25m high.
There are a few chapels in the near vicinity: Kozarska (Goat-herd’s) Church, St. Elijah, St. Spas, St. Atanas, Holy Trinity, Holy Virgin, St Dimiter and St. George.
Noteworthy is the so called Kopana (dug-out) Church. It is a small chapel near a huge tree. Its roots spread aboveground and can shelter a group of people. The church is situated in the Vadata (the Creek) locality, 1750 m above sea level. A two-hour marked trail starts close by and leads to the village.
Of interest is also a ceramic furnace from the 2nd-4th century AD used for making bricks and tiles.
Two trails start from Dobursko: “The Grouse’s Path” and “The Path of the Rila Cowslip”. They were constructed under a project entitled “Preservation of Biodiversity and Sustained Local Development through Ecotourism in the Razlog area, Bulgaria”. Each trail takes about 4 hours to explore on foot.
The Rila Charter
This is a document issued by Tsar Alexander’s office and signed and sealed by the Tsar himself on September 21, 1378. The charter reads that the Bulgarian ruler donated lands, forests and about 20 villages with convents (including Dobursko) to the Rila Monastery. It also mentions that these villages were exempted from secular and religious taxes. All economic activities were to benefit the Rila Monastery.
The Battle of Klyuch (Key)
During the early 11th century Byzantium and Bulgaria were engaged in fierce wars. To halt the enemy offensive, Samuil erected border barriers in the ravine between the Ograzhden and Belasitsa mountains, near the village of Klyuch. Late in July 1014 Vasilius ( Basil) II outflanked the Belasitsa Mountain and attacked the Bulgarian in the rear, near Klyuch. About 15 000 Bulgarian soldiers were taken prisoner. The Byzantine ruler commanded that they be blinded. One in every 100 men however was left one-eyed so that he could guide the others. Vasilius was nicknamed the Slayer of Bulgarians ( Basil Bulgaroktonus). Tsar Samuil could not get over the tragedy and died on October 6.
Kresna-Razlog Uprising, 1878
The Bulgarians in Macedonia rose against the Ottoman rule on October 3, 1878, after the Berlin Congress. The town of Kresna in the Melnik area was the center of the uprising.
It was prepared by the Edinstvo (Unity) committees in Sofia and Gorna Cumaya (present-day Blagoevgrad). Its leaders were D. Popgeorgiev, the Russian officer A. Kalmikov, Stoyan Voivode etc. The uprising spread all over the Melnik and Razlog areas. In mid-November the Turkish military command embarked on decisive operations against the insurgents. Poorly armed, the Bulgarians were easily defeated. The Turkish atrocities resulted in the emigration of over 35 000 people from the Melnik and Razlog area.