Bulgaria: Etar Living Museum

Easy to get to from Veliko Tarnovo- Etar Museum is based in Gabrovo and take under an hour by car to get there. It’s a world inside its own gates, a selection of building showing how life was in Bulgaria until quite recently, how families lived and worked,many still do here. Lots of crafts to see and buy, my favourite are the wooden plates. This is a safe place to bring children and there are two very good restaurants at either end of the complex. This open air museum is very cheap to go in at about 5 Lev plus free WiFi too. This is a Brilliant place for a day out.

This is an enjoyable walk through the recreation of how Bulgarian life used to be-if you are a history buff or culture vulture, this beautiful place is for you. Set in a very scenic location this outdoor village museum shows the trades and traditions of Bulgaria in way that keeps you interested. Information boards are in both Bulgarian and English and explain what each house was used for and the items inside, the living quarters were also shown with an explanation to complete the full picture.

There are many seating areas to rest at as you take a slow wander around the site.


The traditional houses and buildings are just beautiful to marvel at on a sunny day. Everything looks so picturesque and poetic and it really makes you appreciate times gone by.

This open Air Ethnographic Museum “Etar” is the first of its kind in Bulgaria. It was founded on the 7 of September 1964 year. It spans over an area of 7 hectares and contains a total of 50 objects, including water installations and houses with craftsmen’s workshops attached. As a whole, the complex’s goal is to illustrate the architecture, way of life and economy of Gabrovo and the region during the Bulgarian national revival.

The park features typical Bulgarian revival houses with two floors, bay windows, a clock tower, and a beautifully decorated house by Saakov featuring 21 windows. Using original instruments and following the old traditions, locals represent around 20 characteristics of the regional crafts such as wood-carving, pottery, coppersmith crafts, furriery, cutlery making, needlework etc.

I particularly loved watching the artisans at work at their craft and the beautiful thing about this place is that you can opt to purchase something being hand made right in front of your eyes. I bought a wooden, hand made pendant and a whistling clay pot that traditionally used to be a children’s toy that you’d partially fill with water and blow on the spout to make the vibration of the water mix with the air to cause a whistling sound- this charming little toy sits in our living room to evoke lovely memories of our time in Bulgaria.

This open air living museum also includes an ethnographic museum house which you can tour around to see how Buglarians lived in the past. I find museums like this fascinating as it does feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s life, it feels very private and very intrusive but at the same time as though you’ve been taken back in time and given a glimpse into the old ways, daily life, objects, fabrics and traditional clothing worn.

Etar is a piece of history in the heart of Bulgaria, just at the base of the mountains.
It is like a small village placed along the river, a little touch of traditional magic I believe tourists would enjoy. Etar is a quirky hidden gem that you must visit during your stay in Bulgaria.

Missed previous posts about Emen Gorge & Veliko Tarnovo? Click on the link below:
Living in & Visiting Veliko Tarnovo
Day trip to Emen Gorge

Want to read other travel blog posts? Click on the links below:

3 weeks backpacking around Nepal
10 days traveling up the Dalmatian coast of Croatia & Montenegro
16 days touring around Morocco
4 day mini break in the Algarve, Portugal
5 days in Budapest and Vienna
Day trips and mini breaks around the UK

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