Beside its commonly known definitions of “Capital of humor” and “The Bulgarian Manchester”, Gabrovo is also famous as “The town of bridges”. The specifics of the terrain, and the geographic location of our town, have defined not only the outlook of the place, but also the character of the Gabrovo resident, which has earned the nickname of “though Balkan man”. In the name “Town of bridges”, one could seek a purely symbolic meaning, which comes from the fact, that here exactly, lies the main passage, connecting Northern and Southern Bulgaria.

In the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the Gabrovo stonemasons – masters of bridges are among the most sought – after, even outside of the borders of Bulgaria. There is information, that Gabrovo masters, later entrepreneurs have built bridges in Turkey, Serbia, Romania.

Precisely, the fact that Gabrovo is a town of bridges, gave the name of the triennial – “BRIDGES”.

In the title, we imply two aspects. The first, purely philosophical – THE BRIDGE, as an expression of the eternal will of a person to conquer, get to know and connect. The natural striving to go against division, borders, barriers, chasms.

In the second aspect we look at the bridge as the most meaningful installation, built by man. It is more meaningful and more stable than the houses, and more sacred than the temples, because its more accessible. It belongs to everyone, and it is one and the same for everyone.

Today, when we are facing a constant choice, and most of all choice of identity, the topic about the division is especially up-to-date and painful, not only for us, but also for all of Europe. In that sense, the topic about THE BRIDGES, according to us, fits well in the context of the motto of the program Creative Europe – “Equal in our diversity”.

In 1974, in Gabrovo, the first Group art exhibition on a labor topic was opened. The last edition was in 1988, and after nearly three decades of interruption, the town is once again a host to an event of such character – National triennial for contemporary painting “Bridges”. A long lost tradition is restored, and Gabrovo is once again a center for the contemporary artistic work.

The idea for the triennial exists form as far as 2016, and the merit for its realization goes to the initiative and hard work of the staff of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

As partners of the triennial, we have attracted the Ministry of Culture, the Gabrovo municipality and the Union of Bulgarian artists.

The exhibition is carried under the patronage of the Major of Gabrovo municipality.

The exposition is accompanied by a catalogue with the artworks of the participants.


In the first edition of the National triennial in 2017, a total of 61 artists, with 99 artworks, have taken place.

The awarded artists in the National triennial “Bridges” 2017 are:

  • Award of Gabrovo municipality – 1000 BGN, a diploma and the right to a solo exhibition in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has been given to Kosta Donchev, for the work “All Souls’ day”.
  • Award of the Ministry of culture – 1000 BGN and a diploma, has been given to Tsvetan Kolev for the work – “Lights”.
  • Award of “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery – 800 BGN and a diploma, has been given to Donka Nedelcheva, for the work :”Subjects”.
  • Award of “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, for a young author (up to 35 years of age) – 500 BGN, and a diploma has been given to Iavor Kostadinov for the work – “Danube bridge I and II, Variation VII”.
  • Award of Regional Governor Gabrovo – a plaque, has been given to Ema Verterova, for the work “Butterfly”.
  • Award of Directorate “National park central Balkan”, has been given to Todor Zahariev for the work “Quiet land”.
  • Award of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, has been given to Rumen Deshev for the works “Composition I” and “Composition II”.


On the 2nd of July 2021, at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, the celebration opening ceremony of the second edition of the National triennial in painting “Bridges” took place. For the exhibition a total of 117 authors submitted their artworks. On the 10.06.2021, a jury consisting of Chairman: Liuben Genov, Chairman of the UBA and members: Desislava Dikova, head expert at KNMII at the Ministry of Culture, Ivan Hristov, senior expert at the department of “Culture and Tourism” at the Gabrovo Municipality, Liudmil Velinov, Ph.D. in art studies and visual arts, Momchil Georgiev, member of the management department of “Painting” at the UBA, Evgeni Nedev Menaging Director at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery and Mariana Maneva, member of the managing department of the UBA – Gabrovo, have left for participation 92 artists, introduced with 139 artworks.

The following authors are nominated for award:

  1. Anton Goshev
  2. Vasil Tenev
  3. Velin Dinev
  4. Vladimir Avramov
  5. Georgi Popov
  6. Doncho Zahariev
  7. Evgeni Nedev
  8. Zlati Zlatev
  9. Ivan Velchev – Iovo
  10. Krasimir Rusev
  11. Nikolay Todorov
  12. Plamen Kirilov
  13. Sevda Poturlian
  14. Stiliana Uzunova

The following authors are laureates of awards:

  1. The award of the Gabrovo Municipality was given to Plamen Kirilov for his paintings “Somewhere in time VI” and “Somewhere in time VII”.
  2. The award of the Ministry of Culture was given to Ivan Velchev – Iovo for the artwork “Defile I”.
  3. The award of the UBA was given to Stiliana Uzunova, for the painting “Life”.
  4. The award of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery was given to Zlati Zlatev for his painting “Forgotten bridges II”.
  5. The award of the Regional governor of Gabrovo was given to Nikolay Todorov, for the painting “Secrecy – Primal signs II”.
  6. The awards of “Ciela norma” were given to Sevda Poturlian for the painting “Taken view” and to Georgi Popov for the Painting “Spring sun”.

In the “young author” category, the following nominations were given:

  1. Gergana Balabanova
  2. Dean Boev
  3. Mariana Stoianova
  4. Mehmed Okan
  5. Petra Dimitrova

Petra Dimitrova was distinguished with the award of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, for a young author, for the painting “The Asparuhovo Bridge II”.

Mariana Stoianova is the laureate of the second award in the young author category. She is distinguished for the paintings “Landscape #5 – series “Nature” and “Landscape #6 – series “Nature”.

Nelly Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev