Klyuch is a village in the municipality of Petrich, located at 20 km to the southwest of the municipal center in the foothills of Belasitsa Mountain, at about 200 m a.s.l. The quarter of Samuilova Krepost was attached to the village in 1958. Local people grow tobacco, vegetables, vines and sheep. The village has 320 houses and 1170 citizens at the average age of 45 years. Electrification and water systems have been fully built; sewage is built at 60%.
The primary school of Hristo Smirnenski was opened in 1915. Cultural activities are the domain of the Gotse Delchev Chitalishte. On the Samuil Fortress Hill (5 km north of the village) stand the National Memorial Complex of Tsar Samuil (997-1014) and his army. On the same hill, scientists have found remains of a Thracian settlement (3rd-1st c. BC) and of Medieval Bulgarian settlement (9th-10th c.) burnt at the end of the 10th c. In the early 11th c., a fortification was erected on top of its ruins. South of the village, there are the remains of another fortification from the Roman epoch used in the 11th c. as one of the elements of the Klyuch Defense Line of the State of Tsar Samuil.
The name of the village comes from the Byzantine name of the gorge – Kleydion – meaning key or “klyuch” in Bulgarian. Archaeological excavations held in 1970-76 on the territory of Samuil’s Fortress have discovered several pits with built-in fireplaces and dugout homes – typical Slav dwellings from the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. This place was called Kufulnitsa – a Greek word meaning something hollow. For the celebrations of the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian State, the National Museum Park of Samuil’s Fortress was opened in 1981.
A signed trail leads from Klyuch to Mt. Tumba. The vicinities of the village host the cave of Lednika, Markova Rock and the historic site of Gergevche. There are several localities whose names are related to the dramatic Belasihka Battle from 1014: Kokalitsa (where the bones of Samuil’s soldiers were buried); Smardashets (where some of them were leaved to rot and smell); Vadioch (where the 14000 captured soldiers were blinded). In 1913 and 1924, Bulgarian refugees from the villages of Ledovo, Gorni Poroi and Matnitsa came to settle here. The main means of livelihood remained agriculture.
The church holiday is on August 2 (old-style Ilinden); a ritual Kurban is cooked on July 20. Horse races are organized on Todorov Den. The local Chitalishte of Gotse Delchev has a male folklore group, a mandolin orchestra and children’s dance group.
Phone code of Klyuch: (0)74202; postal code: 2899.
The village of Klyuch is receiver of the GOLDEN STAMP Prize for a Unique European Settlement for its ancient history and unique cultural heritage. The prize was presented by the European Experts Forum. Other settlements with the same prize are Florence, Drama, Strasbourg and many others.
Part of the information comes from the unpublished book of Simeon Bliznakov.

Map of the region