Slavs have many traditions related to the building of a home. Their houses are built of stone and wood and they pay special attention to the decorations which consist of different symbols carved in wood – ornaments resembling snakes, spirals, stars, small circles. Bulgarians have a feeling for aesthetics and beauty and use this feeling for arranging their houses. In the process of development of building and decoration, Bulgarians show their talent – the lively and picturesque Bulgarian medieval buildings are typical examples.
In 1396 Bulgaria fell under Ottoman rule. The five centuries under Ottoman domination began when Bulgaria had the best chances for development of material and spiritual culture. This was the main reason for the significant delay in our economic and cultural development. The Ottoman conquest of Bulgaria stopped the development of architecture and arts for a long time. The strong, centuries-old Bulgarian traditions, however, could not be destroyed. Bulgarian arts and craftsmen created artifacts, which remained hidden during the foreign domination. The creative power of Bulgarians was kept alive and expressed by the building of churches and other buildings, the embroidery of clothes, curtains, carpets and rugs for the decoration of the house. Our people kept its spirit and power and at the end of 17th and throughout the whole 18th century houses were built in the towns and villages of Bulgaria, decorated with ornaments, mainly wood carving.
The interior of Bulgarian houses is also worth mentioning – wooden ceiling, railings and upper part of the fireplace – everything was usually in woodcarving. Time passed, Renaissance Bulgarian painters and constructors achieved great progress and created unique works as combination of traditions and modern tendencies. Their completeness still astonishes us with its ornaments and artistic maturity. In this way Bulgarian craftsmen laid the foundations of what is now called Bulgarian Renaissance architecture.
In the 18th and 19th century the situation in our country changed. The fast economic, political and cultural progress of Bulgarian nation created new opportunities for the development of building and architecture. The exterior and interior design of the houses expressed high artistic and architectural values. Bulgarians needed widening of their horizon and those who could afford to travel beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire, went to visit Russia and Western European countries. Thus they had the opportunity to get to know the way of life of people there, their culture and mentality. They wanted to live in houses similar to those seen abroad. That is how buildings appeared influenced by the modern tendencies in Western Europe and Russia. There were guestrooms in the houses with beautiful wood carving, pretty ornaments and paintings on the walls. Renaissance craftsmen showed their imagination by a lot of details.
The typical Bulgarian house for the period was a combination of architectural and artistic prolifically. Renaissance masters always respected nature. They protected the environment and adapted the way they built to that. This is the reason why all their works were in harmony with nature. Renaissance masters were inspired by the perfect shapes, colours and creations of nature and used their elements in carpets and embroideries, wall paintings and wood carvings in the houses they created. Despite the violent domination during Ottoman rule, Bulgarian architecture, in combination with other arts and crafts, kept alive its authenticity and unique forms because the foundations of its character and image lay in our Bulgarian traditions. Bulgarian dances, folklore songs, folklore and clothing kept the spirit of our nation and helped us survive after the Ottoman invasion.