Batak, Bulgaria


Batak, Bulgaria

Batak ( _bg. Батак) is a town in Southern Bulgaria. It is located in Pazardzhik Province and is close to the town of Peshtera. Batak is a municipal centre with 3 villages included and a total population of 7,480.

Geography

Batak is situated in the northwestern slopes of the Rhodope Mountains, 1036 m above sea level. It is surrounded by many peaks, clad with century-old pine and spruce forests. The climate is temperate continental with a characteristic southern warm wind. Batak was pronounced town in 1964 and has population of 4,019 people.

History

Antiquity

There are numerous archaeological monuments of most ancient times in the region of Batak. A find of the Old Stone Age was discovered in 1958. Tools, objects, ceramic vessels, ornaments as well as bones of rhinoceros were found which proves that the climate was warmer in the Quaternary. Twenty Thracian, Thraco-Roman, Byzantine and Slavic fortresses, churches and monasteries, as well as Thracian mounds, Roman bridges, mines, mills and other archaeological sites were registered.

Origin of the settlement and medieval history

The exact origin of Batak is unknown, since there is a lack of historical data. The earlier view that the settlement was founded by Bulgarians who escaped from the forced mass conversion into Islam in the valley of Chepino in 16th century today is rejected because it is believed that the settlement is much older. This is justified by an inscription on the fountain of Virgin Mary Monastery of Krichim built by the people of Batak in 1592, a writ of the feudal possessions of Sultan Suleiman I (1520-1566), in which the village of Batak is also mentioned, as well as the remnants of many churches and monasteries burnt down by the Ottomans during the conversion into Islam in this region. The origin of the name of Batak is not certain, too. In the old legends it is related to the Tsepino chieftain Batoy, while the history professors Yordan Ivanov and Vasil Mikov suppose that Batak was Potok, a settlement of Cuman origin existing between the 11th and the 13th century. It is, however, certain that the name of the village is Bulgarian, not Turkish as some authors assert.

Ottoman rule

During the centuries of Ottoman rule, many hajduks in the region of Batak took revenge from the turks for the outrages upon Bulgarian people – Strahil Voivoda, Deli Arshenko Payaka, Gola Voda, Todor Banchev, Beyko, Yanko Kavlakov, Mityo Vranchev, etc. From these times have remained the old rebel names, such as "Haydushka Skala", "Haydushka Polyana", "Haydushko Kladenche" (spring), "Sablen Vrah" ("Sabre Peak"), "Karvav Chuchur" ("Bloody Spout"), as well as many legends.

Woodworking, trade and innkeeping were developed in Batak during the National Revival. The prosperity of the population was conducive to the prosperity of education — a secular school was opened in 1835 and the "St. Nedelya Church" was built in 1813. Batak has given many eminent figures of the Bulgarian Revival, such as clerics like archimandrite Yosif, Nikifor, Kiril and others, who worked in the Rila Monastery, a centre of the Bulgarian National Revival. Famous men of letters are Georgi Busilin and Dragan Manchov.

April Uprising and Ottoman war-crimes

The population of Batak took part in the April Uprising of 1876. The people of Batak rebelled on 22 April under the leadership of voivoda Petar Goranov. On 30 April the village was surrounded by Ottoman army units and irregulars (bashi-bozouk). The battles were carried on for five days. The last stronghold of the rebels was the St. Nedelya Church.

At the end five thousand people were killed and the village was burned down to ashes. News of the atrocities spread around the world. The public outcry created favourable conditions for Russia to declare war on Turkey. On 20 January 1878 the people of Batak who had survived the uprising enthusiastically met the advancing Russian army.

Batak today

Today Batak is a renovated modern town famous for its historical monuments and a resort and tourist centre. A key hydropower system — "Batashki Vodnosilov Pat" — with five dams and hydroelectric stations was constructed in the 1950s. Rest houses, tourist complexes and villas are built along the dam banks.

Honour

Batak Point on Smith Island, South Shetland Islands is named after Batak.


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