The Chair, the Fair and the Manufacturers: a brief history of the “Hristo Botev” Professional School


The “Hristo Botev” Gymnasium - a professional school
specialising in interior architecture and woodwork - 
is located in the heart of Plovdiv and has a long
history of traditions, innovative spirit and public support. 
On 12 September 2014 its doors will be open to the public 
as part of the Anniversary Program 
of the Night of Museums and Galleries.


Before sharing more about the upcoming events at location 84, we will briefly outline the history of the “Hristo Botev” Professional School. It all started with a chair, when in 1907 а chair-making school was established in Plovdiv. Its students and teachers were forced to move to different sites all the time, as the school didn’t have its own building. This made the teaching process quite difficult. During the next decades, the manufacturers in the city realized the need for well-trained young craftsmen. That is why 

in 1930 Mr. Obreykov, head of the local Trade Chamber, proposed the construction of new Handicraft School.

The building was planned to be big and modern enough to house not only the well-developed chair-making, but also tailoring,

Obreyko Obreykov

Obreyko Obreykov

shoemaking, electrical technology, homespun tailoring, etc.

Mr. Obreykov’s enterprise followed a tradition started by his father in 1910 when Obreykov Senior established the Trade School in Plovdiv. By that time the family had already earned the respect of the local tradesmen and citizens. It was a popular belief that “everything the Obreykov family does is good and productive”. Therefore, the proposal for a new Handicraft School was not only accepted with enthusiasm, but was also funded by the personal savings of all local manufacturers. The Trade Chamber and the Ministry also assigned money to the future construction. Thus, 

the school became a symbol of the currently popular slogan “Plovdiv together”

almost a century before 2019.

Architects Dimitar Popov and Svetoslav Grozev were in charge of the design of the building. A site just next to the Trade School was chosen. On 8 January 1931 the Prime Minister Andrey Lyapchev laid the first stone of the Handicraft School. The construction of the building took almost two years during which the team encountered many problems and intrigues. The contractor Mr. Sirakov was accused of misappropriating the material from the foundations. The scandal was avoided when the Trade chamber explained that transporting and storing the IMG_6285excess stone was too expensive and it was given as a gift to Sirakov. The supervision firm caused a quarrel between the architects. In spite of all difficulties, the building was successfully finished and in 1933 the Handicraft School was officially opened. Ivan Kremikov was appointed headmaster. A memorial plaque was put at the entrance to commemorate the building of the school. After 9 September 1944 this plaque was taken down, broken and forgotten. Today it proudly welcomes all visitors and students into the school again.

On 4 March 1933 the school housed the First Industrial Fair –

 an event that would later become one of the main attractions of the city. After the speech of the trade minister Dimitar Gichev, Mr. Obreykov officially announced that the fair will become an annual event. The First Fair took place on 3150 sq.m, the participants were 424 and its design was assigned to architect Svetoslav Grozev. The enterprise drew unprecedented attention. This motivated the organisers to keep up with their work even harder. Slowly but permanently all farming and industrial establishments in the city and the country decided to support the event. The Parliament also recognized the success of the enterprise by granting money for the building of new exhibition halls. However, the first home of the fair will always be the Handicraft School. Today, the International Fair Plovdiv is situated in a large-scale exhibition complex and welcomes more than 7000 exhibitors from 58 countries twice per year.

In 1936 the school won gold medal at the International Fair in Brussels. Soon new modern machines were purchased for better training and qualified professionals were hired as teachers. Thus the outstanding reputation of the school was guaranteed. The gymnasium was awarded the state order of “Cyril and Methodius”, first degree in 1976. Years later the two schools built by father and son were painted in dark red. Today they shape the atmosphere and appearance of their neighbourhood.


After casting light on the history of the “Hristo Botev” Professional School, we look forward to the events that will take place during the dark side of the Night on 12 September. In the shadows of the belt-saws, turning lathes and hand-saws an alternative and dark experience is hidden. Don’t sleep through it!

Казвам се Мария-Магдалена и съм студент по Архитектура. Интересувам се от града – от неговите лица и проявления, особености и изненади, характер и ритъм. А към Пловдив се отнасям с особен сантимент. Като типична нощна птица откривам магия в малките часове, когато, освен всичко останало, обичам да пиша кратки есета и статии.

© 2019 Open Arts Foundation, НОЩ/Пловдив -