The municipality of DRYANOVO is located in the central part of the Fore Balkan, on 248,5 sq. km of rugged terrain with an altitude of 180 to 640 m. The beautiful mountain slopes are covered with mixed deciduous forests and the Yantra and Dryanovska Rivers flow smoothly between the hills and the rocks.
The climate of the region is temperate continental, with mild winters and cool summers, very favourable for rest and tourism during all seasons. The altitude is about 300 m. The municipality is located in the administrative region of Gabrovo.
In the municipality, there are the town of Dryanovo and 62 small settlements. The center town is easily accessible on the main transport links of Northern and Southern Bulgaria: Ruse – Podkova railway and Ruse – Stara Zagora highway.
Dryanovo is located at 22 km away from Gabrovo and its ethnographic complexes, 24 km from the medieval Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo, 17 km from Tryavna with its Revival architectural ensembles, and 34 km from Sevlievo (the old Hotalich).
The population of the municipality is about 11,000. In the area around Dryanovo, some of the oldest traces of life on the Balkan Peninsula were found in the Bacho Kiro Cave. The Second Bulgarian Kingdom is inextricably linked to the region of Dryanovo. The remains of the Town, Boruna, and Lipovo Gradishte Medieval Fortresses are from those times.
The town of Dryanovo was founded in 1470 but in the 11th – 12th centuries, there was a village near the present-day town.
The oldest traces of life on the Balkan Peninsula have been found in the region of Dryanovo: the Bacho Kiro Cave near the Dryanovo Monastery, situated in the valley of the Andaka River, reveals evidence of human presence from the Palaeolithic age. Numerous remains of ancient settlements, fortresses, columns with inscriptions, and adornments from the time of the Thracians and the Romans (the Boruna and Discoduratere Fortresses) were also found. The cave has several levels with a length of about 3 km.
The background of Dryanovo can be more definitely sought in the Thracian and Roman times. The settlements in Bulgaria, surrounded by so many fortresses and abiding places, are rare. The remains of such strongholds from 2,000 years ago located not far from Dryanovo are an eloquent witness to the past of the region.
One of those strongholds around the present-day city is Discoduratere. It was built by the Romans between the present-day village of Gostilitsa and the town of Dryanovo in 176-180 AD. Built on the border of the Roman provinces of Thrace and Moesia, the fortress was founded during the reign of the Emperor Mark Aurelius (161-180 AD) by the citizens of Augusta Trayana (Stara Zagora); and from an ordinary roadside station, it became one of the main markets of the Lower Danube provinces. In the middle of the 3rd century, Discoduratere was destroyed by the Goths. Later, it was restored and reached its peak in the 5th and 6th centuries. Afterwards, its life was interrupted and resumed during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom as a medieval and comfortable night-time station near the capital of Tarnovo.
The Thracians liked these places even before the Romans. They also built their fortresses and settlements around the present-day Dryanovo. On the Orlovo Gnezdo Plateau, which is 3-4 km southwest of the town, the remains of an ancient fortress can be seen. The site is naturally fortified on three sides by sheer rocks, and the fourth side used to be surrounded by a tall stone wall.
There was a large building here, probably the palace of a boyar or of tsars of the family of the Asenevtsi. The fortress served as the main point of defence against the invasions of the barbarian tribes beyond the Danube. It was used by the Thracians, later by the Romans and the Byzantines, then by the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians. Here, in 1190, the numerous troops of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angel were defeated. For a long time, he besieged the main fortress in vain.
During the Ottoman domination, Dryanovo managed to preserve the Bulgarian spirit and the Dryanovo Monastery was one of the great guardians of the Bulgarian faith, literacy, traditions, and culture as a whole. The population benefited from some tax relief because the people of Dryanovo were derventci (guardians of the pass) for many years. This, however, did not make their lives much easier as they were constantly harassed by the many local chorbajii, about whom they even complained to the Sultan with letters sent to him personally.
In 1778, a clock tower was built in the center of Dryanovo. This was due to the development of the crafts and the need to know the exact time. At that time, the presence of a clock tower was a sign of a developed settlement and the clock tower in Dryanovo was one of the first in Bulgaria. It was destroyed twice: once by the Ottomans and a second time by the Communist authorities. The persistent people of Dryanovo, however, did not allow themselves to lose one of the symbols of their town and in 1984, they restored it in its present form, which is very close to the original, and the clock mechanism was taken from the original tower.
During the Revival, Dryanovo gave many bright personalities who fought against the Greek style, the inevitably spreading culture of the Ottoman conquerors, and the oblivion of the Bulgarian. It is imperative to mention the name of Maxim Raykovic, who gave great opposition to the Greek phanariots in Tarnovo and devoted his whole life to preserving the Bulgarian culture and spirituality by teaching and donating money to several Bulgarian schools. Part of his will was for the building of a school in his native Dryanovo to unite the three existing schools in the town, one in each neighborhood. It is worth noting that in the all three schools, they always taught in Bulgarian and there was no Greek influence, which was very prevalent at that time elsewhere.
During that period, the Dryanovo builders were very prominent, many of them became masters and worked in various parts of the Kingdom and even beyond its borders. This gives grounds nowadays to speak of Dryanovo Construction School, the most famous representative of which was Nikola Fichev (Kolyu Ficheto).
The inhabitants of Dryanovo took active part in the April Rebellion of 1876. For nine days, in the Dryanovo Monastery, a heavy battle was struck between the rebels of Bacho Kiro and Pop Hariton with the numerous Turkish soldiers – the longest one and one of the most epic battles during the rebellion. The liberation of Dryanovo came on 12 July 1877 (new style).
After the liberation, several large factories arose on the territory of the municipality: the tobacco factory of the Shishkovi brothers (in 1896, ranked 1st in production and profit among the ten tobacco factories in the region), the candy factory of the Mutafchievi brothers, and Zdravina joint-stock company, later transformed into First Bulgarian Wagon Factory.