Mandritsa, the Albanian village in Bulgaria

The only Albanian community in Bulgaria is registered in Mandritsa, which is the only Albanian village in Bulgaria and is located near the Bulgarian-Greek border. This village was founded in 1636 by Albanian Orthodox dairies who had served in the Ottoman army. They were allowed to occupy a piece of land and were exempt from paying taxes. Mandritsa is located on the right bank of the Byala River, in the easternmost part of the Rhodope Mountains, 15 km south of Ivaylograd and 2 km west of the Luda River, which forms the border with Greece. Most Albanian speakers arrived in the 18th century from the areas around Korça and in the 19th century from the Sul region, in Epirus. The locals kept their suliote national costumes until the 19th century, when the dress was replaced by "Thracian kilos". However, women's clothing was preserved until their mass emigration to Greece in 1913. In the 19th century, Mandritsa was a small town with Greeks, who identified themselves as Albanians, in Didymoteicho's cauldron. In 1873, the village had 250 head of families with 1080 Albanian inhabitants.
 
Mandritsa was liberated from Ottoman rule on October 15, 1912, during the First Balkan War by units of the First Bulgarian Army, but was reconquered by the Ottomans during the Second Balkan War. Under the Treaty of Constantinople, the village passed to Bulgaria. A large number of residents fled with the Ottomans and remained as refugees for 6 months, before heading to Greece, via Constantinople and Rhodes, and only 40 of them stayed in Bulgaria while another 100 settled in the village of Hambarkoy, near The Kilkis, whom he named Mandres, in their honor, and the rest, populated villages in Greek Macedonia and Western Thrace. The Bulgarian government settled Bulgarian refugees there from Thrace and Macedonia (from the Edessa region in Greece) and in 1929, another wave of emigration to Greece followed.
 
Their main activities were: silk weaving, tobacco growing, manufacturing and trade. At the beginning of the 20th century, the village reached about 3500 inhabitants, while today Mandritsa is a small village with about 70 inhabitants, some of whom still speak a pronounced Albanian dialect, Tosk Albanian. However, despite the barriers they have had over the years, the remaining inhabitants of the village of Mandritsa, most of whom are elderly, have managed to preserve the old Albanian language and proudly display their origins, without neglecting Albanian culture and tradition. Their association has many virtual members from different parts of the world originating from this village and working together to re-evaluate its beauties and promote investment and tourism; In 2016, was built in Mandritsa, a small beautiful hotel, with bar and restaurant, which bears the name in Albanian "Bukur shtëpi" (Beautiful House).
 
Nowadays, it is difficult to determine the exact number of Albanians with permanent residence in Bulgaria, as both people and official statistics are missing and as the only reference we have the census data for the population, currently located in Arbanasi and Mandritsa, a total of about 400 inhabitants.
 
For more, please click the link for the documentary made about Mandritsa:
https://www.facebook.com/AlEmbBulgaria/videos/911929456283289/

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