Before discovering Ichera, I had never heard the phrase: “Hey, what are you staring like a man from Ichera for a sun?”, but coming to the small old mountain village, one understands the meaning of these words. The two high hills surrounding Ichera are not only an obstacle for the sun… Here, fatigue, worries, vanity, urban everyday life, and even mobile networks disappear! And it smells of life… A forgotten rural life… And in November… and in autumn!
Where is located and how to get there
The village is nestled in the foothills of the Sliven Balkan and surrounded by the raging streams of the Luda Kamchiya river. Nearby are the far more popular Zheravna (23 km), Medven (18 km) and Kotel (26 km). The road to it is nice and easy to get to, unless the cows grazing in the meadow not decide otherwise… I recommend you to stay at least one night and fully feel the atmosphere, but if you are just coming for a walk, you can leave your car in the central square, where there is a dedicated parking lot.
Around the waters of Luda Kamchiya
From the very first breath, you can feel the purity of the air… Being around the center of the village, the sound of the river’s waters will certainly attract your curiosity. The autumn colors make the main road, which is also part of the Sliven rally track, more impressive than it is… We quickly cross it and are above the river! In several places, there are wooden bridges and recreation areas on the other side of the shore. The hunting parties that we managed to spot in one of our morning walks also depart from here.
The ancient livelihood of the locals
As strange as it sounds, the village changed its location several times until it settled on its current territory. Konstantin Irechek describes it as: “deprived of the most necessary conditions for agriculture and animal husbandry…”. And yet, the main livelihoods of the locals were precisely agriculture, animal husbandry and farming. People raised sheep, goats, cattle and pigs, and the unfavorable soils were mainly planted with potatoes, cereals and legumes… But there were also craftsmen – carpet weavers, tailors, carpenters, wheelwrights, cobblers, etc.
💡 One of the most famous Bulgarians with an Icheren vein is the great Georgi Kaloyanchev! And another actor, Dimitar Kyostarov, born in Ichera, is among the founders of the Macedonian National Theater and is its first director!
Where does the name “Ichera” come from
When and how exactly the village itself was born is very difficult to say… The main theory links its origin and name to the early medieval fortress of Sikera from the IV-V century. An interesting fact is that thousands of kilometers away, in one of the harshest parts of the earth (Irkutsk region), there is a small village with the exact same sonorous name… Ichera!
And to make it even more strange, like the Bulgarian one, it is also located around stormy river waters… Those of the Ichera River! The coincidence of the name with such precision suggests that its root dates back thousands of years… It’s most logical that it comes from the Turkic peoples, some of whom use the main part of the word to mean “dark”, “hidden”, but still the very placement of the ending “a” next to such uniformity is extremely strange… Did our ancestors not reach the lands north of Lake Baikal? We will hardly ever know…
Legends are part of the folklore of almost every Renaissance village and Ichera is no exception. The most popular one is related to Tsar Simeon I the Great, who often stopped by the village and went hunting in its surroundings. The king mentioned more than once that here he saw the girls with the most beautiful eyes in all of Bulgaria! And precisely because he valued the area so much, he presented it as a gift to his most loyal boyar, thanking him for his devotion… He even added the lands all the way to Cape Emine!
Ichera was also a favorite place of the Sliven governors, and it was also called the “Royal house”. Here they felt protected and calm… Other legends connect Ichera with the gold of Indje Voivoda and tell about the relationship of Panayot Hitov and Vasil Levski with the people from Ichera…
Through the streets of Ichera
The view from our house was so pleasant that I could spend most of my time in Ichera around the logs roaring in the fireplace, enjoying the sound of the rain… Actually… that’s exactly how it happened! But during the period when it wasn’t raining, we indulged in wandering around the authentic village streets…
The Renaissance architecture of Ichera is absolutely unadulterated! You don’t know behind which high wall a more than 100-year-old architectural treasure is hidden… Of course, not everyone is like that. There are abandoned and crumbling buildings, but new ones are being built that do not disturb the overall appearance of the village. The iconic wooden houses here lack the beautiful carvings of those in Koprivshtitsa, for example, but are attractive enough in their own right.
As well as around the centre, walk up to the upper neighborhoods, however steep this may be in places… Get to the “Bukurka” spring, because from this part of the village are the most beautiful views of the colorful hill. You can’t hear anything but a dog barking! Striking silence, as if you are at the end of the world…
The village church
The Sunday morning walk ended around the open gate of the church “St. Dimitar Solunski”, built in 1842. From the outside, the courtyard offers a great view of the rooftops of several country houses, but you must go inside… I must have been obsessed with the beautifully painted ceiling, because at one point the old lady spoke to me with the words: “Our church is beautiful, isn’t it…?“.
I don’t know how long I sat, but he told me at length about many things… About the once beautiful wooden floor, about the multitude of people who used to gather on holidays, but the following words stuck in my mind the most: “It was preserved during the Turkish slavery, the Bulgarians ransacked it… They come for restoration and something disappears… What beautiful gilded elements we had… silver trays… And the priests steal! They send us someone, something disappeared…“.
P.S. It’s correct to pronounce Ichera’, the accent is on the “a”! Locals don’t like to get the name of their village confused!