Anniversaries were often commemorated during the totalitarian period in Bulgaria. The celebrations comprised not only events, concerts and books, but the building of monuments as well.
That’s the case with this monument too. It was built in 1976 to mark the 100th anniversary of the April Uprising.
The idea of the monument is to represent the “three generations of fighters for freedom” referred to the following years:
1876 – the April Uprising was an insurrection organised by the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire, which indirectly resulted in the re-establishment of the Bulgarian state in 1878. The Ottoman Army brutally suppressed the rebellion, slaughtering most of the initiates and the innocent population in the cities where the uprising started. That resulted in a public outcry in Europe.
1923 – The September Uprising was an armed insurgency staged by the Bulgarian Communist Party, under Comintern pressure, as an attempt to overthrow the government of Bulgaria. The uprising’s goal was the “establishment of a government of workers and peasants” in Bulgaria, not the conversion of the country’s socioeconomic system to communism. Later it was proclaimed to be the predecessor of communism in Bulgaria.
1944 – The September Revolution was a coup to change the Kingdom of Bulgaria’s government. It was the beginning of radical reforms towards socialism.
The idea of succession was one of the important points of socialism; it was used to prove their legitimacy and that their ideas were the same as the ones the fighters for freedom had in 1876. That, of course, is only their interpretation of the historical events, but it carries more weight when it’s carved in stone.
The monument itself has an interesting asymmetrical plan. The central part has a bell tower, a terrace and a light well. Тhere is an underground floor with a crypt for the fallen fighters from the region. On one side of the main part, there are 3 stepped terraces, representing the 3 uprisings: on each terrace is a wall with big stone reliefs that feature scenes from the history and the mythology of the events. It is an interesting fact that the reliefs depicting the April Uprising–being the reason for building the monument–are on the lowest, farthest terrace so that it’s possible to miss it if you don’t go all the way around.
The way the monument is built is also interesting. Most of the monuments from the period are built from big stone blocks or concrete, however, the façade of this one is made from round stones that make it look like medieval citadel ruins, which can be found all around Bulgaria. The inside part is lined in red bricks. Also, it follows the traditional scheme for monuments on specific locations outside of inhabited places: one big, memorable form on the outside that can be seen from afar. The decoration, sculptures etc. are on the inside, so they impact the viewers only when they are inside the monument, during an event, in the company of other people–maybe even an orchestra, bells chiming etc.
Today, although it is not completely dedicated to communist ideology, the monument is nevertheless in a state of decay and has been vandalised. This year the government finally transferred ownership of the monument to the municipality, so they are planning a restoration and popularisation of the memorial.
TEXT BY ANELIYA IVANOVA
1976Monument for annual events
2018 Still standing, but decaying
Form of government
1976 Totalitarianism under Soviet influence
2018 Parliamentary Democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
1976 Monument with real cultural value of local importance
2018 Monument with real cultural value of local importance