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The town of Montana (49 368 inhabitants, 160 metres above the sea level) is situated on the river Ogosta immediately next to the dam with the same name. It is 113 km north of Sofia, 24 km north-east of Berkovitsa, 102 km south-east of Vidin, 41 km north-west of Vratsa and 49 km south of Lom. It is the biggest transport crossroad of Northwestern Bulgaria. A regional administrative centre.
It is a successor of the Roman fortress settlement Castra ad Montanenzium (fortress in the mountain) or known also as Montana. After archeological excavations it was proved that the long history of the settlement began on the Kalebair ridge, on the left bank of Ogosta River. The strategic position of a crossroad of important roads and the carst spring (now captured) determined the position of the Roman town.
In 3rd century it was the most significant town in the province of Dakia under the name of Ripenziz. It was destroyed by the Barbarians. In the Middle Ages it was small insignificant settlement. During Turkish rule it was mentioned for first time under the name of Koutlovitsa (a name of Slavic origin) in a document of 1575. The Liberation (1878) found it with the name of Golyama Koutlovitsa (Ogosta River separated it from Malka Kutlovitsa) and with less than 1000 inhabitants. Until 1891 when it was officially declared a town, it bore this name. Then the town was given the name of Ferdinand, after the name of the then Prince (later on Tsar). At the time it was a craft centre and a major cattle market. Tradesmen from all over the country as well as from abroad - from Turkey, Romania, Serbia participated in the annual fair. The building of the railway line Boichinovtsi-Berkovitsa (1916) which then passed through Ferdinand contributed much to the rapid flourishing of the town. After World War I many refugees from Tsaribrod and Bossilegrad areas settled here. In 1945 the town was renamed to Mihailovgrad, and in 1993 again, after about 20 centuries, it took the name of Montana.


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