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Madritsa village in Bulgaria with 75 inhabitants still preserving Albanian language and culture

  • 1/26/2021 2:05 PM
Madritsa village in Bulgaria with 75 inhabitants still preserving Albanian language and culture
Madritsa village in Bulgaria

The Mandritsa village was founded in 1636 by some Albanian Orthodox herdsmen who supplied the Ottoman army with dairy products. They were allowed to take a piece of land and not pay taxes. The majority of Albanians came to the village during the XVIII century from the outskirts of Korça and in the XIX century from the Suli region, which is located in Greece today. Residents preserved their national clothing until the 19th century when the jacket was replaced by the Thracian pants, while women's clothing were preserved until the time of mass emigration to Greece.

In the 19th century, Mandritsa was a small Albanian town. In 1873 there were 250 houses, with about 1080 Albanian residents. In 1908 Greek sources called the population of 3500 people as "Albanian speaking Greeks, most of whom spoke Greek as well." The main occupations were the growth of silk, tobacco cultivation, handicrafts and trade. The village had three Greek educational institutions: a school for boys, a school for girls and a kindergarten.

Mandritsa, today has only 75 inhabitants and those who live there, have vague memories of the beginnings of the village population. Sultana Gramenova, says that these lands were given to the ancestors by the ruler of the time, after they had built a safe mosque in today's Ederna, once Adrianapolis. In exchange for the good work, they gained the right to settle in Mandritsa. It is said that the first inhabitants went there  in 1636, based on the inscription found in the cemetery of the church of St. Sunday.

 "400 years ago, they came here, from Korça and they were Albanians, Arnauts. They came here to find a place to settle. They went to the city to build a very beautiful mosque and then the Turkish bey gave a permission to them to settle in Mandritsa", - says Sultana.

The 400-year-old history of this village is preserved in the Church of St. Sunday, which today has no priest. Gramenova takes care of it, and  also rings the bell. The Albanian of Mandritsa with the Korça dialect has been preserved in the village generation after generation, but only in a spoken form, not written.

"It is certainly impressive how they managed to preserve the language, but on the other hand, I am a little sorry for the development and depopulation of the village, because we found the elderly and I am very afraid that with the departure of the elderly, this  beautiful tradition of spoken Albanian and the culture and customs that have remained, despite the fact that some of the families are certainly mixed with Bulgarian citizens or others, will come to an end" said Donika Hoxha, the Albanian ambassador to Bulgaria.

Ivajlo Petrov is one of the last young people from Mandritsa to decide to invest there in an effort to keep history alive, the language through tourism. He even gave his hotel an Albanian name, even though it was written in Cyrillic letters, "Bukor house" (Beautiful house).

"My mother is from Mandritsa, I grew up in Mandritsa, I spent my childhood here and that is why I am so emotionally attached to Mandritsa. When I was little, the village was very lively. Many people lived here and there were also many children. I remember the local library, the very good bakery, the hospital, the emergency medical service, the dentist's office. There were schools, elementary up to the eighth grade, high school, there were dormitories for students who came from the surrounding villages and slept here, because this was the main school where they attended classes," he said.

/Klara Ruci/