- Rakovski (town)
Rakovski (Раковски) is a town in southern
Bulgaria, the historical region of Thrace, part of Plovdiv Province.The town of Rakovski is also the centre of Rakovski Municipality.Rakovski was formed in 1966 with the merging of three villages-General Nikolaevo,Sekirovo and Parchevich.
Geography and climate
The town is located in the western part of the
Upper Thracian Lowland, 25 northeast of Plovdiv, and has an area of 5,50 km². Rakovski is located in a transitional continental climatic zone south of Stara Planina. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are mild, with snow remaining for about a month.
Traces of human population in the area date from the
Chalcolithic. There are also remains of an ancient settlement and a Roman road2 km southeast of the town.
The area was settled by
Pauliciansin the Middle Ages, who served as frontier guards and heavily armed infantry in the battles between the Byzantine Empireand Bulgaria between the 9th and the 14th century. Most of them fled to Nikopol on the Danube, the Second Bulgarian Empire's last stronghold, after fierce fights with the Ottomans in the end of the 14th century. There they accepted Roman Catholicismfrom Chiprovtsimissionaries and gradually returned to their native places. The different confession did not, however, effect the local residents' patriotic feelings, as many took part in the Bulgarian National Revival.
Information about the three villages (now neighborhoods) that formed the town of Rakovski in 1966 can be found in several Ottoman tax registers. General Nikolaevo is mentioned as "Kalıçla sarı" and "Sarı Kalıçla" in 1488 and 1576, Sekirovo is denoted as "Baltacilar" in 1576 and Parchevich is counted under the name "Ali Fakıh".
Rakovski is by far the largest predominantly Roman Catholic town in Bulgaria, with the vast majority of the population professing
Roman Catholicism. There are Roman Catholic churches in all three neighborhoods, those in General Nikolaevo (built 1929) and Sekirovo serving as parish churches and being known as two of the largest Roman Catholic places of worship in this largely Eastern Orthodoxpart of the Balkans. Rakovski is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv.
nunneryand a monasteryare located in the town, the former being a Franciscanone dedicated to the Sacred Heartand the latter to Polish martyr Maximilian Kolbe.
The catholic church 'Sacred Heart' in Rakovski is the second largests in the
Balkansafter the cathedral of Zagreb.It is built in 1928 because of the Chirpan earthquake that left it in ruins.
Rakovski hosts the annual international festival called 'Kukove'.The performers wear masks and dress as
Kukeri.The festival is the biggest cultural event of this kind in the region.The participants are not only from Bulgaria but also from Greece, Serbia, Ireland ,Romania and Macedonia FYR.
The annual holiday of the wine-'Vinaria-Trifon Zarezan'is a tradition for the Rakovski Municipality.Another festival is held in the village of Belozem.It is called 'The festival of the
White Stork'and takes place every year in the beginning of May.In 2005 Belozem is named 'A European village of the white stork'by the Foundation of the European Natural Heritage .
The Municipality of Rakovski is also a member of the Foundation of the European Carnival Cities- FECC.
For the first time in 2002 the town of Rakovski hosts The International Football Tournament for Children -'United by the Football'.The organizers of this event are the Municipality of Rakovski, The Professional Football League, the eparchy of Sacred Heart, the eparchy of'Saint Archangel Mihail' and the monastery 'Saint Maximilian Kolbe'.The teams of many european countries have participated in this tournament so far , for example Poland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, England, Malta, Germany, Romania. The Bulgarian teams of
Levski, Litex, Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Botev Plovdiv, Naftex Burgasand others have also participated.The local football club 'Rakovski'has played in republican championships for children and youths in 2002 in Italy and Germany, in 2003 in Italy and Malta, in 2004, 2006, 2007 in Italy.The club has also been a host for teams from Germany and Japan. There are four other amateur football clubs in the Municipality that play in the tournaments of Plovdiv Province.
* [http://www.rakovski.bg/ Rakovski municipality website]
* [http://www.catolic-gen.com/ General Nikolaevo church website]
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