The United Nations announced that 1979 was to be The Year of the Child. Guided by that, Lyudmila Zhivkova–daughter of the Party leader Todor Zhivkov, and Head of the Committee for Culture of Bulgaria–proposed to convene an International Assembly for gifted children. The project was welcomed and realised with the help of UNESCO. The motto of the Assembly was “Unity, Creativity and Beauty”.
The motto, name and concept of the Assembly were influenced by the philosophy of the Russian artist and philosopher Nikolay Roerich. ‘’Banner of Peace” was the name of his movement for peace that he introduced to the UN. One of his goals was to gather together gifted children from all around the world; to “collect” and guide them in how to become the new leaders of the world, trained in the values of peace and friendship. Lyudmila Zhivkova was Roerich’s follower and was making a lot of decisions based on his ways. Except for the Assembly, she had other projects connected to the youth programme.
When Bulgaria was chosen to host the international event, the preparations were great. The park-monument was erected as the symbol of the Assembly and was built in only 30 days, so that it could be officially opened during the event.
The monument features a central pillar with 7 bigger and 18 smaller bells that can even play a whole concert. There are separate concrete pedestals around the pillar that hold the bells–186 in total.
For the Assembly in 1979, Bulgaria was visited by delegations from 78 countries. Each brought a bell, traditional for its country or folklore. The oldest one was from the 11th century, and there was a replica of a 5th century bell as well.
The event was meant to be a one-time thing, but it was liked so much that a decision was made to hold it once every 3 years. There were only 4 Assemblies held before the totalitarian regime fell and the initiative fell into oblivion.
In 1996 the monument was consigned for demolition, and the bells were to be moved to the Italian Lyceum for storage. The locals, from nearby neighbourhoods, gathered and stopped the demolition work thus saving the monument.
In 2002 the installation of new bells resumed–with a gift from Pope John Paul II.
There is a civil, non-government project to restore the monument, to clean it and restore the resting places. The project is currently working on restoring lighting to the monument so that it can be lit at night, and raising awareness in the community about this monument with different tours, festivals and bell concerts.
* Architects: Nikola Pavlov, Blagoy Atanasov, Georgi Genchev, Anton Maleev; Artists: Krum Damyanov, Mihail Benchev
Text by Aneliya Ivanova
1996 Used as a park for the people from the nearest neighbourhoods
2018 Used as a park for the people from the nearest neighbourhoods
1979 Communist Government
1996 Socialist Government (what is left of the Communist party, chosen temporarily, by vote)
2018 Governmental Ministry of Culture
1979 Newly founded, used regularly for events
1996 abandoned, earmarked for demolition
2018 Currently being restored
1979 Committee for Culture
1996 National Educational and Culture Complex with Italian Lyceum – Gorna Banya
2018 National Educational and Culture Complex with Italian Lyceum – Gorna Banya
Form of government
1979 Totalitarianism under Soviet influence
1996 Parliamentary Democracy
2018 Parliamentary democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
2018 Part of the park, with real cultural value