Livelihood and economy

   Elena is a historical town which has kept its strong Bulgarian spirit throughout the centuries. Not surprisingly, this town stands as a center of awake Bulgarian spirit during the Revival period. As the Belgian Consul in Ruse says, in nineteenth century in these Balkan regions "the Bulgarian tribe is still alive, the slavic traditions are much better preserved than anywhere else and the speech is correct ... This is the real Bulgaria. "

   The development of commodity-money relations and the expansion of the internal market in the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the eighteenth century provoke significant changes in the economic development of the mountain village of Elena, as well as in the others wealthier Balkan villages such as Gabrovo, Troyan, etc. Besides the usual home industry, satisfying vital needs of every household, in Elena were developing the crafts which had not only local significance. Homespun flourished. The friezes from the town of Elena were used all over the empire. Looms were ready for weaving in winter as well as in summer.

   One of the strongest guilds in Elena was the tailoring. In 1843 in Constantinople "Hambar" were working 37 tailors from the town of Elena. Elena tailors sewing clothes were competing the tailors from Tarnovo and Ruschuk. There were Frenk-tailors sewing tight "French" clothes made of homespun frieze or from cloth imported from Europe. Ivan Momtchilov was the first who returned from Odessa sheared and dressed with narrow (French) clothes - pants, vest, frock - coat, and the people from Elena didn`t like it. Turk`s women from Tuzluka were not used to sew clothes for themselves and their husbands and bought everything ready by Elena tailors.

   In the town of Elena there were about 25 - 26 pottery factories, as is written in Nikola Bozveli`s “Zemleopisanie” dating from 1835. They supplied with earthenware the whole Tarnovo region.

    The Elena coppersmiths were famous and they were producing coppers, pans, pots, pans.

   Furriers worked lamb and sheep skins and made jackets. Wnen a hunters shot a bear, he was going to make a housing from bearskin. Lamb skins were exported.

   Gypsies had a leading role in some crafts. The Bulgarians rarely became blacksmiths or butchers - it was a privilege of the Gypsies. And in the local butchery were prepared sausage and jerky. The famous pork ham from Elena region was a preferred dish from the family and the guests. The crafts were privilege of the gaffers.

   In his work "Building history ..." of the town grandfather Jordan Breshkov wrote: “ The town of Elena had its golden age, its economic boom during the past two centuries, till the liberation. "

   The reforms in the Ottoman Empire from 1826, 1834 and 1839, gave an impetus not only to the development of crafts and trade, but also in agriculture and livestock.

   And whilst the agriculture had never fed the population of the town of Elena, the viticulture found places with favorable climate for its development in Mindya Karaorman, Kapinovo and Fidabey (Mariyno). The population exported wine and brandy to Dobrudzhagea and brought back wave from shepherd herds of Kotel. And the vintage continuing15-20 days was a real holiday in the vineyards - songs, fun, round dances - all the people were there, the town was deserted.

    A period of its economic prosperity Elena owes to the development of sericulture and the trade with cocoons and eggs. The ayans from Tarnovo noticed the profitability of this occupation and proceeded to plunder the labour of the Bulgarians. They were collecting every evening the woven silk during the day and selling it at a price ten times higher than they were paying to the manufacturers. The population didn`t reconcile and managed to obtain the sultan Irad to grow freely cocoon and to produce silk paying only the tithe. By Elena river were built 40 cupboards for silk reeling. 40,000 CCI cocoons were extracted. Significant quantities of silk and silkworm eggs were exported to the markets in Turkey and abroad, mainly in Italy and France.Two Frenchmen lived several years in the town of Elena to trade with silk and silkworm eggs.

    By the middle of nineteenth century the German general Yohmus who had spent some time on Turkish service, says that Elena was at that time at the level of an industrial town with 600 houses.The main manufacturing sector was canvas producing.

    At that time on the place of today's square "Hristo Botev" in the town of Elena there were 12 goldsmith shops and the place was called "Kouyoumdjiisky bazaar.

    Along with terziiski and grocery guild well settled was the horticultural guild, each with separate philistine case.The horticulture was the main livelihood of the population in the town.Horticultural Horta (companies) - battalions of 7-10 people, sometimes reaching up to 30-40 and employed a total of several thousand people.Elena gardeners have worked in Varna, Sofia, Romania, South Russia, Hungary. In 1866 was founded the horticultural association.

    During its economic prosperity Elena in a short time changed its external appearance. The rich merchants and craftsmen began to rise massive houses and guilds built churches, bridges and fountains. The streets of the town were lit by petrol lanterns. Water – mains were constructed.