Grebentsi Гребенци (Bulgarian) map

The people known as Grebentsi by other Bulgarians are thought to be the remaining decedents of the old population of north western Bulgaria. It is suggested that their name is related to a characteristic element in their bridal head-dress that looks like a rooster’s “comb”, but they are also called “Elians” meaning countrymen or locals from the Turkish “yerli”. Their dialect and clothing separates them culturally from other neighbouring groups of Bulgarian people. The Grebentsi are considered to be more closely related to the older population in Shumen and Razgrad regions before the many movements of people.

They now live mostly in villages along the Danube between Tutrakan and Silistra, but once were more widespread. Many crossed to the north side of the Danube as refugees during the Ottoman occupation of Bulgaria and the wars with Russia, particularly from Kazemir and Aydemir to the village of Ceacu, from Dolno Ryahovo and Pozharevo to the villages of Ulmeni and Luica, from Sitovo to the village of Ciocănești (Călărași county), and to villages in Ilfov county near Bucharest. The majority of the population from the village of Alfatar emigrated in 1774 to the village of Olshanka (Kherson province, Russia), and the remaining population from this village moved in 1828 to Wallachia and a few families to the village of Gârlița now in Romanian Dobrogea.


  1. Georgiev, Galin [Георгиев, Галин]. Гребенци [Grebentsi]. Българска Етнография [Bulgarian Ethnography]. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Online at:
  2. Georgiev, Galin [Георгиев, Галин] (2019b) Групи българско население в Североизточна България и Добруджа [Groups of the Bulgarian population in North-Eastern Bulgaria and Dobruja]. Българска Етнография [Bulgarian Ethnography]. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Online at:
Published on 11th December 2023