Fruitful Timok river, gold-bearing mountain streams and Stara Planina have always been popular for settlement.
The oldest evidence of human homeland in the municipality of Knjaževac is a cave drawing, in the area of Gabrovnica village, which dates back to prehistoric times.
The area around the Knjaževac, former Gurgusovac, settled by different tribes Tribals, Mezi and others, who called the biggest local river “Tim aqua” (Black Water). Pliny mentions Timahi tribe who lives in this area. On the threshold of a new era in these regions Romans come and call the river Timahus. During the period of Roman rule, it is known that in this area there were two sites Timacum maisus (Veliki Timok) and Timacum minus (Mali Timok).
Many armies have passed through these areas. There were many warfares, burnings, destroyings and rebuilding and revamps.
Hordes of Huns and Avars have passed this way and after them the spacious valley of the Timok settled Slavs. About Slavic Timočani tribe and their prince Born, the first news date from year 818.
Timok people changed their masters. They lived under the rule of the Franks, Bulgaria and Byzantium, as evidenced by the remains of numerous medieval villages and churches, preserved in the vicinity of the town.
The Turks conquered this area in 1396. Turkish sources only in 1455 show that in the Timok nahija was a hundred villages, including the village of Gurgusovče.
Three hundred years later it is written about the Gurgusovac that it is located in Mali Timok River, which passes through the small town, over which there is a wooden bridge.
Timočka palanka, as it was called by the Turks, had 120 Serbian and 46 Turkish houses, two mosques, one stone and the other wooden. It had two cafes and two inns. On the hill there was a Turkish colony surrounded by a palisade, with a crew of about 100 men and a few cannons. The road Niš-Vidin was passing under there. In the middle there was a square, which indicates that the Knjaževac, then Gurgusovac, was a trading center.
About the origin of the name Gurgusovac
There are several versions about the origin of the name Gurgusovac. According to one version, the name of the town was founded by Grgur, the oldest son of Despot Djuradj.
After the second one, it was after gurgusan pigeons, which were many in the surrounding forests, and after the third name derives from Djurdje’s water near Miletina church, not far from Knjazevac, which the Turks called Gjurgu-su ( “su means water).
After liberation from the Turks and acquisition to Serbia 1833. g. Gurgusovac developed all town functions, although there was still the largest part of the population living from agriculture.
About the appearance of the town in the mid XIX century testify “Serbske novine” from 1851:
“Who ever saw and knew Gurgusovac fifteen years ago, and then state from that time compare with current as the same, he will not give up a big improvement.
Then there could be seen mostly straw, baskets covered houses, but now also can be seen all nicely built and covered with ceramides. In addition, there are inns, shops in even larger numbers than before. Big and rich bazaar stretches on the two sides of the old wide main street filled with shops and inns.
But as the biggest decoration serves the town and every Serb brings to grace, big and beautiful church stands and next to it a nice school. In addition, Gurgusovac is proud with well done municipal hospital, among the first built in Serbia “.
Name of Knjaževac
Knjaževac gets its name on 17 January 1859. by Prince Milos Obrenovic, who was on that day in Gurgusovac and ordered the burning of the notorious Gurgusovac tower (that to the people was a symbol of darkness and slavery).
By Act of places in1886 Gurgusovac was formally declared the town.
In the period 1875 – 1877 the town was briefly occupied by the Turks. In 1883 after the liberation wars, because of unresolved political and economic situation there has been an outbreak of Timok rebellion. The immediate cause was the rebel seizure of firearms from the national army on the orders of King Milan Obrenovic, and its leaders were Aleksa Aca Stanojevic, Gavra Aničić, Ljuba Bozinovic and others.
Since 1913, during the Balkan wars, the region have very often been attacked by Bulgaria, even in 1915 it was occupied. Serbian army and the French Cavalry Brigade on 15 October 1918 freed Knjaževac.
During World War II, this area was occupied by the Germans (1941) to the final liberation of 10 October 1944.
After the liberation, town is rapidly developing. Mines around are re-opening, industrial facilities are creating to instead of former small craft shops, and all that affects to the great migration from village to town.