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village Zasele

Location

The village of Zasele is situated at a distance of less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, Southeastern Europe. It is conveniently approachable traveling through the scenic Iskar Gorge.

The geographical coordinates of Zassele are 43° 2′ 22” northern latitude and 23° 19′ 46” eastern longitude.

History

First known inhabitants of the territory of today’s Zasele village have been the Thracians. From this period are discovered five small Thracian stone tombs, which nowadays locals call “Butzite”. The tombs were 3 by 3 meters wide, with some burial ceramic artifacts inside. Unfortunately, three of these Thracian tombs have been destroyed; the two preserved are in the village neighborhood of “Golo Burdo” and “Ravnishte”.

During 5th century BC the village has been in the boundaries of the Odrysian kingdom (the largest one in Europe at that time) up to the Roman Conquest in the first century AD. It becomes part of the Roman province of Moesia in 1st century BC. On the north side of Zasele there are still ruins of once existing old village, known as “Visokoto Gradishte (The High-rise Ruins)”. During the first two centuries of their rule in the lands of ancient Thrace, the Romans embarked on the construction of well-designed roads. According to historical sources here in Zasele there was a military garrison tasked to secure an important Rome’s road (latter known as “Drumo”) connecting Serdica (Thracian’s name of present Bulgarian capital Sofia) to the north portions of the Empire. At Zasele the road divides to one going to the town of Vidin and the other one going towards Vratza. After migration of the Slavs and Bulgarians in this lands (5th-7th century AD) the old village has been abandoned and people settled in the lands of today’s Zasele.

In 681, when Khan Asparukh founded Danube Bulgaria, the village was at southwest border of the new state. In 809 AD Khan Krum’s (also known as Crummus and Keanus Magnus) army passed by on their way through the Iskar (known in Latin as Oescus) gorge of concurring the strategic military and administrative center of Sredez (Slavic’s name of present Sofia). According to the legends, in the area of the nearby village Gubislav, Khan Krum’s army won an important battle against the vanguard of Byzantium emperor Nicephorus I Genik. During the period of the First Bulgarian Empire (7th-11th century AD) many of the fortresses have been rebuilt, including the one called “Meterizo” (in Zasele’s vicinity known as “Kokalanskiat Kamyk”), ruins of which still can be seen nowadays.

During the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th-13th century AD) the village of Zasele expands and flourishes, reaching its development pick. Near the village was built a monastery in the territory of so-called “Murtvinata” by the old ruins of “Visokoto Gradishte (The High-rise Ruins)” and “Todoriza” river. Also, in the center of today’s Zasele was built the “St. T. Tirianin” church in addition to the two existing chapels.

In 14th century AD, the Ottomans occupied Bulgaria and the village has been looted and completely destroyed, including the monastery, the church and the chapels.

In the beginning of the 17th century AD, several families from the region of Etropole (Etropolis), looking for refuge from Turkish outrages, settled in this difficult to access territory of the Iskar Gorge and re-established the once existing village. These are the families of Pongiovzi, Shavalzite, Tzurniarete, Moninzi, Fakirovzi, Gushterovzi, and others. They were living in kinship groups and formed twelve localities (neighborhoods). The kin of Zurniarete (the ancestors of Bojilov’s family) settled in Zasele’s vicinity called “Kokalan” and “Markova Kukla”. According to local legends, some part of latter inhabitants of the village of Zasele and surrounding villages were also Bulgarian refugees that fled after the brutally crushed Chiprovtsi Uprising, which broke out in 1688 and was organized by Catholic notables rebelling against Ottoman domination. Turkish government finding out about these new establishments immediately assessed taxes, mainly in the form of annually due rams (male domestic sheep used to supply the army). In September each year, the due rams from the area have been assembled in Zasele and were taken by the locals on foot to Istanbul.

In 1877, with Russian liberation army advancing from North, parts of the retreating Turkish army were passing thru the village using the old Roman road from Vratza to Sofia. The locals got organized, ambushed, and engaged in multiple fights against the long-time Ottoman enemy. The life in the village started to change. The first elected mayor of Zasele and a schoolteacher becomes the returned from emigration Naiden Fakirov. In 1881 the village population is 431. A new school building has been erected and opened doors in 1896. During this period as many as 30 men from Zasele took part in the building of a new railroad through the Iskar Gorge, connecting Sofia with the northern parts of the country.

In the first decade of the 20th century, as a result of a new administrative reorganization, the villages of Zasele, Zimeviza, and Zanoge are combined into one county with center Zimevica. A new road was built to connect the three villages with Tzerovo railroad station. Doors opened a new post office, medical facility, and a steam engine lumber-mill. In the thirties, the villages became administratively independent. One of the mayors during this period has been Bojil Slavkov. In 1934 the population reaches 721 people and gradually increases to 834 in 1956. Due to its remoteness from the railroad and major roads, the population of Zasele decreases to 173 in 2005.

In 2006 the grand-grandsons of Bojil Slavkov, from the kin of Tzurniarete, would bring into being Zasele’s very first tourist complex – “Bojilovo”.

Interesting facts

In the beginning of the 17th century AD, several families from the region of Etropole (Etropolis), looking for refuge from Turkish outrages, settled in this difficult to access territory of the Iskar Gorge and re-established the once existing village. According to local historical legends, some part of latter inhabitants of the village of Zasele and surrounding villages were also Bulgarian refugees that fled after the brutally crushed Chiprovtsi Uprising, which broke out in 1688 and was organized by Catholic notables rebelling against Ottoman domination.

 

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