Berkovitsa, Bulgaria

Berkovitsa took part in the project Big Foot, Crossing Generations, Crossing Mountains, organizing several activities in intergenerational learning as a tool for sustainable development.

Berkovitsa Community In Brief:

The town of Berkovitsa is located in the North-West of Bulgaria, part of the Western Balkan Mountains: from the area of the so called Fore-Balkan to the northern slopes of the western Stara Planina Mountain.

The territory covers 80,655 square kilometers and includes the town of Berkovitsa and 19 villages.

Natural and cultural heritage:

The highest point is Mount Kom (2016 m). The municipality is located in a picturesque area, surrounded by mountainous forested landscapes, surrounded by three Natura 2000 protected areas.

Berkovitsa is rich in cultural sites: unique churches, monasteries, art galleries, museums. The Clock Tower, built in 1762, is the most distinctive monument in the city center.

Berkovitsa can be reached by car or minibus via a narrow unkempt road from Sofia, at times inaccessible in winter.

Demographics and Economy

The population of municipality counted 18,803 in 20111, and remains predominantly Bulgarian. The ratio of urban to rural population is 70/30% - lower than the national average, and continues decreasing.

The economy of the Berkovitsa municipality is centered largely in the area of service, trade, and construction. Agriculture and forestry, as well as all other industries, are reducing the number of employees. The villages survive on subsistence farming. Most farmers are breeders and beekeepers, but livestock breeding, strawberry and perennials farming and gardening is developing. In recent years, the key driver of economic processes in the region is the tourism sector, construction of hotels and recreation facilities.

Activities linking Intergenerational Learning, ESD and Tourism

Intergenerational learning” was a new term for the community, inexistent in Bulgarian language. Making an organized effort to focus on exchange among the older and younger residents was also a new practice, which the local residents gladly welcomed through the Big Foot project.

The Project started with community consultations, where the opinions of the residents were collected about the need of the community. The participants included all interested residents of Berkovitsa, representatives of both younger and older generations; students, local associations, craftsmen, mountaineers.

During the Mapping phase, it became clear, that the younger generations in Berkovitsa did not remember the names of the surrounding mountains, nor the rich historical and cultural heritage, associated with them. At the same time, the active and engaged older population was not familiar with basic technological tools, such as using a computer, and wanted to learn how to use the Internet and e-mailing.

The long-term vision in this case is not only to develop the feeling of appreciation and connection with the local area, but also to think as a tourism provider, about what local natural and cultural riches can be attractive, should be advertised, and could support economic development of Berkovitsa.

The Big Foot project activities in Berkovitsa included excursions and field trips, where seniors and school students participated together. The Intergenerational group thus visited the most popular tourist landmarks of the North-West Bulgaria, such as Zdravchenica, Haidushki Vodopadi, Kim, Stаrkovitza, Todorini Kukli and Lopushna. The seniors guided the students to the above places, shared historical facts, legends and folklore, and conveyed their knowledge about the local fauna and flora. The students were taught to read topographical map and compass, and the basic techniques in surviving in the mountains.

Each excursion lasted 1-2 days, during which students not only became familiar with the local surroundings and developed appreciation for their local nature and cultural heritage, but also had a chance to act as trainers, when teaching the seniors how to operate digital and video cameras, and how to use multiple features of mobile phones, such as GPS navigation. In fact, the ICT training continued even after the excursions, and included teaching to the seniors several basic digital competences, such as communicating trough the Internet and other Social Networks, under the guidance of ICT professionals.

The Final Product:

The Big Foot experiment in Berkovitsa resulted in a collection of videos, documenting the intergenerational trip. They include information about the local historical data, the cultural and natural sights visited, legends and personal stories and experience of the participants. The intergenerational participants produced the videos together, during the ICT working sessions.

In addition, the old maps of Berkovitsa, used during the excursions, were updated manually by the trip participants.

As a follow-up to the project, the community plans to produce a digital tourist map of the area, to which the videos would be added. In addition, the Big Foot participants will work on adapting the Wikipedia article on Berkovitsa with the information discovered and shared during the Big Foot project.


Christina Ivanova (16 Berkovitza, Bulgaria)
Christina Ivanova (16 Berkovitza, Bulgaria)
Christina Ivanova (16 Berkovitza, Bulgaria)

"We learn from our senior guides that for the needs of the Roman Empire, in the lands to the North of the Danube River (present-day Romania) there were numerous salt works for the extraction of rock salt. Each spring the Romans built a bridge across the Danube and the salt was transported through this road to our city Berkovica. At that time our city was named Berkvitis, which means – 'The hills of victory'."

1 Bulgarian Census 2011 (