‘Grandpa Yotso is Watching’ Compound

Travelling through the Iskar Gorge, do not miss the spot from which the blind Vazov character "watched" endearingly the newly built railway, sharing his enthusiasm by famously saying, "I am watching those things Bulgarian!"

From the cliffs near Ochin Dol, the highest village in the Vratsa Mountain, a dazzling vista opens towards the most picturesque section of the Iskar gorge with the railway line snaking through its lower parts. Ochin Dol locals proudly argue that it was the place where Ivan Vazov got the inspiration to write his iconic short story titled, "Grandpa Yotso is watching", published in his 1901 Seen and heard collection.

"Passengers standing by the carriage windows, taking in the picturesque switchbacks of the mountain straight were surprised at the site of somebody standing on a hillock across, waving his cap at them. It was grandpa Yotso. That was his way of congratulating new Bulgaria."

In 2005, a monument to grandpa Yotso was placed on the rocks near the road leading to Ochin Dol. The sculpture is made of white Vratsa limestone by sculptors Monika Igarenska and Georgi Tishkov, on the idea of Ognyan Petrov, a historian hailing from Ochin dol.

A small recreation facility with a panoramic gazebo and walkways is laid out next to the monument. There is also a tavern with a simple traditional Bulgarian menu and a small parking lot next to it. Just in front of the tavern, on a sloping patch of land, the local self-taught wood carver Nedyalko Atanasov has arranged his animal figurines.

Ways to get there:

The site is located about 60km along the Sofia-Vratsa road through the Iskar Gorge. There is no way to miss the left turn off: you will see a large sign with information about tourist landmarks in the area.

Useful information:

Not far from the site starts a tourist trail connecting the Iskar Gorge with the Vratsa Mountain. It takes four hours to reach Parshevitsa Lodge from the turn-off.

Every year in May, a national folklore fair titled 'Where are All Things Bulgarian?' is launched in the vicinity.

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