The Arbanashki Han (Arbanassi Inn), known in earlier periods as Hadjihristov house, has an intriguing history to offer. Historical sources and family memory suggest that the house was built more than 350 years ago. Its history is a paragon of how architectural and construction magnificence emerged as a monument of culture of national importance, but also as the center stage of a string of keynote events. Though the house has undergone both restoration and modernization, one cannot possibly bypass some remarkable historical facts linked to the place during the years of the National Revival and the national-liberation struggles against Turkish rule. The apostles of freedom Vassil Levski and Angel Kantchev have visited the house. It even had a special hiding place to use if necessary. One of the house’s distinguished guests was Stoyko Vladislavov, who later adopted the ecclesiastical name Sophronius of Vratsa, in his capacity of Bishop of the Vratsa Eparchy. The outstanding leader of the National Revival arrived to Arbanassi in 1794. The author of the landmark The Life and Sufferings of Sinful Sophronius most probably had a long discussion here with his friend, the ardent patriot Hristo Chamourov.
The beautifully laid out and functional Hadjihristov House belonged to Hristo Chamourov’s son, Stefan. It was one of a few houses owned by the large family of Hristo and Ana Chamourov.
The Hadjihristov House was built in the typical 17-18 c. architectural style characteristic of the affluent homes in Arbanassi – with lavish decoration, wood-carving and murals. In the words of Sophronius of Vratsa back at that time Arbanassi had more than 1000 houses, and its population mostly consisted of distinguished merchant families. One of them was the Chamourov family. Dr. Dimitar Papazov wrote about this high-born family in his book The Village of Arbanassi – memoirs and collected data, a miscellany of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences released in 1935. More precisely, the book recounts of Stefan Chamourov, Hristo Chamourov’s son, who together with his wife Zafiritsa and his children lived in the large gorgeous home. The general description of the Arbanassi house that Dr. Dimitar Papazov provides, applies fully to the Hadjihristov House. „The Arbanassi houses were huge with roomy courtyards encircled with high stone walls: each represented a stronghold in itself. In terms of the pattern of houses and their comfort the village resembled a town proper. Surviving today are houses fully built of stone, with vaulted doors and windows.”
What all houses have in common is their rectangular structure, with straight walls, with no clear distinction of floors and without any protruding parts such as bay-windows and balconies.
Arbanashki han is fortunate, since its history has been systematically explored for years by engineer Sasho Georgiev Milushev, one of the descendants of Stefan and Zafiritsa Chamourov, in fact their grandson. Tracing original documents - birth and marriage certificates, original letters, notes, family sketches, state and municipal documents and books, memoirs etc. -engineer Milushev has drawn up the family tree. His mother Maria was born in this house.
The public-spirited Arbanassi family has given Bulgaria talented engineers, economists, musicians, singers, artists, philologists, historians, doctors, teachers and others. The author of the family three engineer Sasho Milushev was leading the meteorological telecommunications in the system of the Bulgarian Academy of Science for more than 30 years. He is co-author of the computerization of the European and the Global telecommunications systems of the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations. Mr. Milushev has been awarded with Sts. Cyril and Methodius Order.
The vicissitudes of time have strongly impacted on the Hadjihristov House in Arbanassi. In the second half of 20 c. – the years of communism - the building was handed over to the Fatherland Union Organization. The then-chairman of the Fatherland Union National Council Pencho Kubadinski suggested the house be called Arbanashki Han (Arbanassi Inn). It was made the Organization’s residence. Communist party leaders including Pencho Kubadinski and General Dobri Djurov, spent time relaxing in the traditional interiors and special atmosphere of the old house. Original furniture from that period has been preserved – a solid desk, a wood-carved chair, hunting trophies and other objects.
In the aftermath of the 1989 democratic changes the Hadjihristov House would go on receiving distinguished guests. One of them who in 2002 enjoyed the fascinating interiors and the coolness of the green courtyard, was Mikhail Gorbachev. His delegation and the Veliko Tarnovo local leaders dined at Arbanassi Inn.
After his return to Bulgaria, Bulgaria’s exiled monarch Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha joined the list of outstanding visitors of the Arbanassi Inn.
This temple of the Bulgarian spirit, of the national creative and architectural skill is a paragon of how the memory of a multitudinous family should be kept, but also of how the present-day new hosts recreate the tradition and heritage in a unique way. Anybody who spends hours or days in the Hadjihristov House, will be privileged to experience the thrill at the encounter with a remarkable masterpiece of architecture and masonry, with an emotional manifestation of the Bulgarian tradition and culture.
And such encounters are, indeed, a blessing!