Sytovo is a sparsely populated, essentially seasonal, and relatively isolated mountain village located in the Natura 2000 zone in the Rhodopes Mountains. The village has existed since the Thracian era and several archaeological sites are close by. It is an ensemble architectural monument of traditional Rhodope house buildings with "dry stonework" and roofs covered with stone slabs.
In 2019, the local community set up a civic association and reestablish the “chitalishte”, a traditional Bulgarian community culture centre providing opportunities for socialization, education, and local self-government. The efforts of these two civil society organisations, mainly on the bonding and self-organising of the community, improve the village connectivity (transport and digital ones) basis on asphalting of the road connecting the village with the nearest town and delivery of broadband internet connection to it. This leads to a halt of its depopulation - the registered villagers have increased from 11 to 61 in the last ten years (in the summer, the temporary inhabitants of the village are about 500 people).
The lack of local industry and improved digital connectivity, which allows teleworking and distance education, have made the place appealing to young families who want to raise their children in a healthy ecological environment, providing access to the mountain air, water, and food.
The village has a concept for its development with a vision of preserving its appearance as an architectural reserve and turning it into a place for crafts, local traditional food productions and a creative hub for gathering artists and researchers. The primary approach is the revitalisation of the village and improving its living environment by attracting a population of active age, which fosters economic activities related to tourist and education services and food production all year round.
Degree of urbanization
population of 61
Providing access to e-services
The local community has been implementing an initiative for providing access to e-services (e-consultations with a physician, lawyer, building surveyor, etc.) for the village inhabitants in a computer cabinet. The equipment, e-platform, and subscription to the e-education program "I learn" are donated by a Bulgarian NGO.
To restore the village connectivity, the local community set up a village intranet during the COVID lockdown to overcome electricity issues that led to the internet shutdown. The intranet operates based on local amplifiers and software, which increase the intranet speed from every point to the next.
Chitalishte (Cultural Community Center) Rodopski napredak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairwoman of the Board Cherkezov Neli, email@example.com