There is some special energy in the small Balkan village that will make you clear you mind from the hectic urban duties and indulge into the calmness of the countryside.
Traditional Balkan architecture and magical nature
Situated just 2 hours away from the capital city of Sofia, Staro Stefanovo is tucked up in the mountains and will capture your heart right from the start with the beautiful views along the way.
Although the village was declared an architectural reserve in 1980, you won’t see hordes of tourists there and most probably you’ll enjoy its green, cobbled streets all to yourself. We fell in love with the traditional houses with slate-tiled roofs and high stone fences.
The old part of Staro Stefanovo has kept the authentic look of Bulgarian architecture of about two centuries ago. Many the houses there have been announced to be of cultural significance for the country, however, no real preservation efforts have been made by the authorities.
What to Do
Despite the decay in some areas, Staro Stefanovo hides a few real gems waiting to be discovered by the visitors. We can start with the small river bridge (“Поповото мостче” in Bulgarian), dating back to 250 years ago. A little further one can see the Popova House (“Попова къща” in Bulgarian).
Noteworthy, the village is home to several Balkan Renaissance Houses – with specific constructions and the emblematic roofs made of stone tiles.
One of the most interesting houses in the village is the House of Stoyan Minkovski, which was built in 1899, also popular as the House with the Alafrangs. The external façade features painted images with floral and animal elements, which signified the owners were rich. During the Bulgarian Renaissance period (18th-19th centuries), the ‘alafrang’ phrase was used to denote everything new, coming from the new European life style. Linguistically, ‘alafrang’ comes from ‘à la française’ in French, meaning ‘the French way’.
Culture-seekers would love to see the Church of Nativity of the Virgin Mary (църква “Рождество на Пресвета Богородица”). Built in 1880, the Orthodox Church features colorful iconographic pieces on the walls. However, the arches are crystal white without any pictorial elements on them, typical for the so called “white churches”.
The unique ambiance of Staro Stefanovo has turned it into one of the favorite spots of Bulgarian historical movie-makers.
Where to Stay
- Dedovite Kusti, Staro Stefanovo
There are fewer than 100 inhabitants in the village and only one guest house around – Dedovite Kushti. But it’s amazing! You should make sure you book your room in advance if you decide to spend the night there. The restaurant on site is simply gorgeous, serving traditional Bulgarian, home-made dishes. Overall, the whole place was decorated to make its guests feel the old world charm of Bulgarian past.
- Family Hotel Varosha 2003, Lovech
The village of Staro Stefanovo is located within 20km of the town of Lovech. The town deserves a visit itself and has its own historical-architectural part. We highly recommend visiting it.
The 3-star Family Hotel Varosha 2003 boasts a wonderful location in the historical part of the city – the Varosha disctrict, along the Osum River and very close to the covered bridge of Kolyu Ficheto – an iconic Bulgarian architect and craftsman. The breakfast is home-made, with organic, local products. We have tried one of the tastiest omelettes there.
Once in Lovech, we recommend you book a table at the ‘Drakata’ restaurant – one of the best restaurants in town, centrally located with a beautiful terrace.
- RIU Pravets Resort, Pravets
Booking a weekend at the big, 4-star RIU Pravets resort is a nice option for those who prefer a little much luxury, combined with a swimming pool. There’s a modern golf course as well, if you happen to be a golf fan.
Staro Stefanovo is about an hour-drive away from the resort and if you leave after breakfast, you’ll have enough time to enjoy the village and the road scenery.
What to Consider
If you choose to spend the night in the town of Lovech, note that ‘Varosha’ is a very popular name and there are several hotels using it. Be sure you book Varosha 2003.
If you choose RIU Pravets Resort – make a reservation at the hotel, and not the nearby apartments in the area. Apartments are still a comfortable option if you prefer self-catering accommodation.
There is only once craft-store, shop, in Staro Stefanovo. There are local products and souvenirs. We recommend stopping by Dedovite Kushti for lunch or at least for a cup of coffee.
Check out Staro Stefanovo’s photo gallery