„Chitalishte "Svetlina" is 150 years old and despite the urgent need for funds for its renovation, it has very good acoustics. It is obvious that the original builders had a vision of its versatile educational role and invested all their art and love in its construction. Their worthy descendants deserve our support today.”

Natalia Ilieva
Culture, a newspaper for criticism, debate and cultural pleasures

Chitalishte "Svetlina"
About us

About us

The Charitable Society Svetlina was established by musicians Lora Tchekoratova, Georgy Valtchev, Nikola Takov and Mariana Karpatova as an initiative of the Off the Beaten Path Foundation with the mission to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the community center in the village of Kovachevitsa.

Starting with the first edition of the Off the Beaten Path Festival in 2018, the musicians have invested nearly 12,000 BGN of festival funds in repair works at the Svetlina Community Center in Kovachevitsa. With the creation of the Dar Svetlina Charitable Society in 2022, a further 33,980 BGN was invested in a complete renovation of the roof, painting of the hall and lobby, as well as renovation of the terrace. Contributions came from 75 individual donors and small businesses from the region, as well as the musicians and audience of the festival.

We continue to fundraise to restore and maintain the building in excellent condition. We invite the residents of the village of Kovachevitsa and the Municipality of Gurmen, as well as our friends from across Bulgaria and the world, to join our charitable society!

All funds raised will be invested in repair works at the building. We work with local craftsmen and the Municipality of Garmen with full transparency and accountability. We guarantee that each donation will be used only for its intended purpose.

Get involved!

About the "Chitalishte"

За ЧиталищетоThe "Chitalishte" in the village of Kovachevitsa was founded in 1865 by the teacher Nikola Kovachevski. The first books in its library were textbooks from the secular school, as well as newspapers, which were delivered to Kovachevitsa from the town of Siar, and later from Istanbul (Constantinople). The activity of the Chitalishte was renewed in 1885-1892 by Stoyan Zlatarev, Yorje Dimitrov and other local teachers.

During the Ilinden Uprising in 1903, the library burned down and the community center stopped its educational activities until 1908, when the young teachers Stoyan Shutev and priest Toma Poptomov restored it. Its location is moved to various private shops. After the Liberation in 1912, the library was re-furnished, but the activities stopped again during the Balkan, Inter-Union and the First World War.

In 1922 the Chitalishte was registered in the Ministry of Public Education. With donations from private individuals, income from parties and performances, the library began its enrichment. The sons of the founder of the Chitalishte Nikola Kovachevski - the brothers Angel and Dimitar Daskalovi donated BGN 10,000, and Ivan Titimov, son of Kanush voivode donated BGN 5,000. Before his death, the teacher Stoyan Zlatarev (the father of the Bulgarian writer Lyudmil Stoyanov) donated 1,500 volumes of books to the community center.

In 1954, with the active help and funding of the Rodopi Cooperative, a new building was built, where the Svetlina Chitalishte is still located today. The building has a spacious hall with good acoustics, which serves for cinema screenings and a theater hall, with a bright and spacious reading room and library. In the 1960s, the building was deserted. The only pillar of the Chitalishte work and guardian of the museum collection and library values ​​remains again a teacher - Angel Dzhigrev.

In 2018, the first chamber music festival in the Western Rhodopes opens - "Off the Beaten Path", founded by Bulgarian musicians who opened the hall and appreciated its acoustic qualities and the need for its preservation and restoration.

За Читалището

What we have achieved so far

2018 Thorough cleaning of the community center
Replacement of the window panes
BGN 500
2019 Making a new door to the terrace of the community center BGN 1,500
Production of acoustic panels for the concerts of the festival "Off the Beaten Path" BGN 1,000
  Partial repair of the roof BGN 1,000
2020 Production of 150 new chairs in Kovachevski style
Repair of electrical outlets
BGN 5,500
2021 Additional repairs to the roof of the Chitalishte BGN 2,000
  Purchase of a new door BGN 400
2022 Complete roof repair BGN 16,425
2022 Painting BGN 5,100
2023 Insulation and renovations of the terrace, painting of the wall behind the stage, door repairs BGN 12,250


We believe in the power of charity and the ability of each of us to help preserve the traditions of Bulgaria. Let's save this beautiful building!

With a one-time donation or as a monthly donor you help to preserve the culture in this magical village!

Become part of the future!

Foundation "Off the Beaten Path"
UIC 177199929
IBAN BG45BPBI81701075052102

Upcoming activities and necessary funds

2024 Preparation of a project together with the municipality of Garmen for a complete renovation of the building
2024 Work on the terrace rails, professional lighting, renovations of the toilets, dressing room and other spaces

Our partners

Support for the Grantee Off the Beaten Path Foundation is provided by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the Off the Beaten Path Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.

The America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonpolitical American grant-making foundation working in partnership with Bulgarians to strengthen the country’s private sector and related democratic institutions.

ABF builds on the success of the Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund, an investment fund created in 1991 by the U.S. Congress with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Foundation "Off the Beaten Path" © 2021Str. Khan Presian 15, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1612

Photo: Ivan Nikolov and Borislav Zhuikov
Design: EastHouse Creative and Visia
Video: Insieme

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