VIBRANT COMMUNITIES https://vagabond.bg/index.php/ en SILENCE OF THE CARYATIDS https://vagabond.bg/index.php/silence-caryatids-3595 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">SILENCE OF THE CARYATIDS</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/29/2022 - 12:14</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Restored, Sveshtari Tomb awes with millennia-old art, history and enigmas</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-11/sboryanovo%20tomb%20entrance.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-11/sboryanovo%20tomb%20entrance.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="sboryanovo tomb entrance.jpg" title="The Sveshtari tomb was clearly influenced by ancient Greek architecture, with a strong Thracian twist. The Thracians did not simply absorb foreign ideas and fashions, they adapted them to their own culture" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The Sveshtari tomb was clearly influenced by ancient Greek architecture, with a strong Thracian twist. The Thracians did not simply absorb foreign ideas and fashions, they adapted them to their own culture</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>No matter how diverse and interesting Thracian heritage is, time, destruction and rebuilding in war and peace, continual habitation and treasure-hunting have wiped out a lot of it – reducing it to a tomb here, a treasure there, and a shrine in what today appears to be the middle of nowhere. </p> <p>There is a place, however, where a significant part of the Thracian heritage and infrastructure has been preserved, making it easier to imagine what the actual life of this ancient people was like. Covering the bends and the surrounding hills of the Krapinets River, the Sboryanovo archaeological reserve offers a glimpse into a Thracian city and citadel, as well as several necropoli and shrines. The area has been actively researched since the early 1980s, and has so far proved fertile ground for archaeologists, revealing not only astonishing architecture and gold treasures, but also important information about the religion, economy and social life of the Thracians. </p> <p>From the second half of the 1st millennium BC until the times of the Romans, the region was the home of the Getae, a mighty and populous Thracian tribe which controlled the lands on both sides of the Danube. The Getae appeared in historical sources in the 6th century BC, when they were conquered by the Persians, and later fought, with various success, with ancient Macedonia and the heirs of Alexander the Great. Research at Sboryanovo shows that at least in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC this region was the centre of the political power for the Getae kings. Two of them, Cothelas and Dromichaetes, who played a significant role in international politics of the day, are believed to have been buried in Sboryanovo. </p> <p><img alt="The crudely made hands of the caryatids may indicate that the tomb's owner died suddenly and the artisan did not have time to finish his work properly" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/silence%20of%20caryatids%20of%20sveshtari/sboryanovo%20tomb%20caryatids%202.jpg" title="The crudely made hands of the caryatids may indicate that the tomb's owner died suddenly and the artisan did not have time to finish his work properly" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The crudely made hands of the caryatids may indicate that the tomb's owner died suddenly and the artisan did not have time to finish his work properly</em></p> <p>The Sveshtarska Grobnitsa, or Sveshtari Tomb, is the reserve's prime showstopper. </p> <p>Discovered in 1982 in one of the biggest mounds of the eastern necropolis – Ginina Mogila – it is without a match throughout the Thracian world. Its three rooms have unusual barrel-vaulted ceilings. The burial chamber is decorated with a fresco of an imposing woman crowning a rider with a wreath. Sculptures of 10 caryatids line the walls of the room. </p> <p>Sculpted of limestone, the women have disproportionate bodies, intricately carved dresses and sturdy faces with wide-opened eyes, which captivate the visitor in the claustrophobically narrow chamber. </p> <p>Historians believe that the Sveshtari caryatids represent the all-mighty Great Goddess of the Thracians. She is also the tall woman in the fresco, depicted at the moment she brings immortality to the deified owner of the tomb. Relying on circumstantial evidence, some scientists go as far as to claim knowledge of who the deceased was: King Dromichaetes, who ruled over the Getae between the end of the 4th and the first decade of the 3rd century BC. </p> <p><img alt="The two beds in the chamber were supposedly for the man and the young woman whose bones were discovered during the excavations" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/silence%20of%20caryatids%20of%20sveshtari/sboryanovo%20tomb%20caryatids.jpg" title="The two beds in the chamber were supposedly for the man and the young woman whose bones were discovered during the excavations" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The two beds in the chamber were supposedly for the man and the young woman whose bones were discovered during the excavations</em></p> <p>In 1985 UNESCO listed the Sveshtari Tomb as a World Heritage Monument. </p> <p>The burial mounds in Sboryanovo hold more promises of interaction with the dead Thracians and their way of life. So far, more than 100 tumuli have been identified here, giving some explanation why until recently the locals used to call the area The Land of the Hundred Mounds. Most of the tumuli are divided into two main necropoli. According to a hypothesis, their positions were chosen deliberately, making them a giant map of some of the constellations in the sky. </p> <p>In one of these groups, interpreted as an earthly copy of the Orion constellation, rises the 19-metre-high Great Sveshtari Tumulus. Inside it is a monumental tomb with Doric columns and in 2013 a buried wooden box was discovered containing exquisite gold objects, including women's jewellery and harness decorations, weighing more than 1.5 kg. Some scientists believed, that the tomb belonged to Cothelas, the Gaetic king in the last decades of the 4th century BC who played an important role in the local politics and who got married, in 339 BC, his daughter, Meda, to the most powerful man in the world, King Philip II of Macedon. Other historians believe that the gold objects are somehow connected with King Dromichaetes. </p> <p><img alt="he scene that depicts the deification of the tomb's owner was also left unfinished" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/silence%20of%20caryatids%20of%20sveshtari/sboryanovo%20tomb%20mural.jpg" title="he scene that depicts the deification of the tomb's owner was also left unfinished" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The scene that depicts the deification of the tomb's owner was also left unfinished</em></p> <p>Sboryanovo was not only a place for the dead but also a place for the living. On a narrow and easily defensible plateau by the Krapinets River, a walled city thrived between the last quarter of the 4th and the middle of the 3rd centuries BC. Back in the day it was called either Dausdava or Helis (historians disagree on the exact name) and spread on over 25 acres. The city's inhabitants enjoyed Greek wine and olive oil to such an extent that they left us the most extensive collection of imported amphorae ever found in ancient Thrace. The city gained its importance by its position on an ancient salt trade road. </p> <p>The end of the Thracian city at Sboryanovo came with a bang. It was destroyed for good by a strong earthquake, about 250 BC. </p> <p>Today archaeological research of the remains continues, but the trenches and low stone walls are not particularly spectacular. </p> <p>Several shrines of the Getae have been identified in Sboryanovo. One of them, currently called Demir Baba Tekke, is a good example of how one set of beliefs has built on another, ensuring continuity of religions and superstitions. </p> <p>It all started with the Thracians who, between the end of the 4th and the early </p> <p>1st century BC, created a shrine with rock altars and strong walls by the cold waters of a spring, now called the Five-Fingers Spring. When Christianity replaced paganism in the 5th and 6th centuries, the site was abandoned. It was revived again in the 16th century, when the tekke, or shrine, of the Muslim sage Demir Baba, or Iron Father, was built over its remains. Pilgrimage to what had been a pagan site started anew, by Muslims. The tekke is still an active religious site, visited by people who believe that Demir Baba will cure their illnesses. The strange, heptagonal stone tomb of the sage is an arresting sight, positioned straight over the rock altars of the ancient Thracians. </p> <h3>Sveshtari in New Light </h3> <p>In the summer of 2022, visiting Sveshtari Tomb became even more exciting. The Sveshtari in New Light project, managed by the Credo Bonum gallery with funding from the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation, invested $184,000 in restoration, conservation and modernisation of the tomb and the surrounding infrastructure. The project focused on expert renovation of parts of the tomb, installation of professional lighting and development of new exhibition and information, including with VR. </p> <p><img alt="The caryatids' dresses imitate the signature curl of acanthus leaves" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/silence%20of%20caryatids%20of%20sveshtari/sboryanovo%20tomb%20caryatids%20detail.jpg" title="The caryatids' dresses imitate the signature curl of acanthus leaves" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The caryatids' dresses imitate the signature curl of acanthus leaves</em></p> <p>The project united the expertise and efforts of Bulgarian and international professionals. A British company, Sutton Vane Associates, was commissioned to design the new lighting. The company has worked on China's Terracotta Army, a temporary exhibition at The British Museum, and sites such as Titanic Belfast and The Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. </p> <p>Since 2002, the United States has donated over $2,000,000 for preservation of historical and archaeological heritage in Bulgaria. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-194" hreflang="en">Issue 194</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/224" hreflang="en">Thracian heritage</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/259" hreflang="en">Thracian tombs</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/225" hreflang="en">Thracian shrines</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3595&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="W0oWFI6JCa5tik823vVdyYme2qTaXLL9FpUoW1WLXbQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 29 Nov 2022 10:14:51 +0000 DimanaT 3595 at https://vagabond.bg WINTER TALES IN TRYAVNA https://vagabond.bg/index.php/winter-tales-tryavna-3591 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WINTER TALES IN TRYAVNA</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/29/2022 - 10:16</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Old houses, wood carvings plus crisp mountain air add up to perfect Christmas atmosphere</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-11/tryavna%20old%20bridge.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-11/tryavna%20old%20bridge.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="tryavna old bridge" title="tryavna old bridge" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Wood-beamed houses, cobbled streets, mystic religious art and even some snow... you do not need to travel to France or Germany to immerse in the atmosphere of Christmas in a cosy town that has changed little over the centuries. </p> <p>Instead, visit Tryavna, on the northern slopes of the Stara Planina mountain range. </p> <p>It is one of the few places in Bulgaria spared of the "modernisation" wave of the 1970s and 1980s that replaced old streets, wood houses and fin-de-siècle buildings with uniform, brutalist town squares. With its old houses and shops, a school and a stone bridge, a church and a clock tower, central Tryavna still looks a lot as it did in the 18th-19th centuries. </p> <p><img alt="tryavna winter" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/tryavna%20bridge%20tower.jpg" title="Tryavna's emblematic old tower and bridge are the focus of a network of cobbled streets lined with beautiful 19th century houses" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Tryavna's emblematic old tower and bridge are the focus of a network of cobbled streets lined with beautiful 19th century houses</em></p> <p>Tryavna does not feel like a museum town. Ordinary people still live in the fine 19th century Revival Period houses. The cobbled streets are busy with townsfolk, hurrying about their business. One of the centre's top locations, in a traditional house between the city Clock Tower and the Revival Period school, which elsewhere would be an expensive restaurant, is still the café of the local pensioners' club. </p> <p>Tryavna appeared in 1565 as a settlement of people who had to guard from highwaymen the nearby mountain pass and its travellers. In the following two centuries, trade and commerce flourished. In the 17th century, a local icon painting school appeared. Today its disciples are still among the most revered icon painters in Bulgaria. Woodcarving expanded too, forming another school of artisans. </p> <p><img alt="tryavna engraving" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/tryavna%20old%20crafts%20engraving.jpg" title="A scene from Tryavna wool-processing workshop as depicted by 19th century Austrian ethnographer Felix Kanitz" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A scene from Tryavna wool-processing workshop as depicted by 19th century Austrian ethnographer Felix Kanitz</em></p> <p>The centre of Tryavna is a living exhibition of the skills and crafts of local masters. Every detail in the old buildings – from the carved wooden beams supporting bay windows to the big iron nail heads in the wooden doors – shows the desire of old-time masters to create things of beauty and endurance. </p> <p>The best place to see the skills of local craftsmen are the wooden ceilings of the early 19th century Daskalov House. They were carved during a competition between a master woodcarver and his ambitious apprentice. Both men carved suns and it is still hard to decide which one is better – the heavy summer sun made by the seasoned master or the young apprentice's sprightly spring sun. </p> <p><img alt="carved ceiling" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/carved%20ceiling.jpg" title="The so-called May Sun at the Daskalov House made by the master woodcarver who competed with his student who will make a better ceiling. The carving was made in 1808. The furniture in the room shows clear European influence on local lifestyle and was put there in the second half of the century" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The so-called May Sun at the Daskalov House made by the master woodcarver who competed with his student who will make a better ceiling. The carving was made in 1808. The furniture in the room shows clear European influence on local lifestyle and was put there in the second half of the century</em></p> <p>There is more in the St Archangel Michael church. Its iconostasis is covered with the intricate wood carvings of the best Tryavna masters, and the icons are on a par; superb examples of the art of the local icon-painting tradition. </p> <p>For more icons, visit the Icon Museum at the King's Chapel, built by Bulgarian Queen Ioanna in 1943-1944. </p> <p>For many, walking Tryavna's cobblestones, drinking Turkish coffee and rakiya in the restaurants, is immersion enough in the old-time atmosphere. For a fuller experience, do visit some of the museum houses like the Slaveykov House and the home of revolutionary Angel Kanchev. The house of the first Bulgarian professor of chemistry, Penko Raykov, shows how the elite's lifestyle got Europeanised after the mid-19th century. </p> <p><img alt="slaveykov house" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/slaveykov%20house.jpg" title="Relief of poets Petko and Pencho Slaveykov on the facade of their Tryavna house" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Relief of poets Petko and Pencho Slaveykov on the facade of their Tryavna house</em></p> <p>Tryavna's main landmark is the 21-metre Clock Tower in the city centre beside the beautiful humpback stone bridge. It was built in 1814. A year later two craftsmen from nearby Gabrovo installed a clockwork mechanism to regulate the working hours of the town's merchants and craftsmen. The clock works flawlessly to this day. </p> <p>Tryavna however is not stuck in the past. Two of Bulgaria's most peculiar sights, connected to modernity, are here. In the 1990s, a local physics teacher successfully petitioned for the installation of a Foucault Pendulum in the Clock Tower. It is still there, proving that the earth does spin. </p> <p><img alt="tryavna from above" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/tryavna%20from%20above.jpg" title="Tryavna is located on a route through the Stara Planina mountain range that used to be strategically important. Today the town is far from major roads" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Tryavna is located on a route through the Stara Planina mountain range that used to be strategically important. Today the town is far from major roads</em></p> <p>The former city public baths' building hosts the Museum of Asian and African Art. Its collection of wooden masks and figurines were donated to the city by a Tryavna-born New Yorker, the artist Zlatko Paunov. </p> <p>Local tastes have changed as well. For years, Tryavna has had its own label of craft beer made after... Belgian recipes. </p> <p class="text-align-center"><img alt="traditional coffee" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/winter%20tale%20tryavna/traditional%20coffee.jpg" title="Turkish coffee brewed in hot sand is one of Tryavna's delights" /><em>Turkish coffee brewed in hot sand is one of Tryavna's delights</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-194" hreflang="en">Issue 194</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/249" hreflang="en">The Stara Planina</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3591&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="-tLaFmPRwTNaJtjb8xcRaVUvf3civY77rhkxa2qf9XM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 29 Nov 2022 08:16:55 +0000 DimanaT 3591 at https://vagabond.bg ST NICHOLAS DAY, SOZOPOL STYLE https://vagabond.bg/index.php/st-nicholas-day-sozopol-style-3589 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">ST NICHOLAS DAY, SOZOPOL STYLE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/29/2022 - 10:09</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Fishermen, sailors celebrate their patron saint like nowhere else in Bulgaria</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-11/musicians%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-11/musicians%20bulgaria.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="musicians bulgaria" title="musicians bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Band of musicians bring jovial atmosphere to the feast</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>In Western Europe, the 6th of December, or St Nicholas Day, is a time where the first whiff of Christmas gets felt. After all, the saint with his white beard and penchant for bringing gifts to good children is the draft of the modern Santa Claus. </p> <p>In Bulgaria, St Nicholas Day is equally important although in a different manner. Seen as the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, merchants and bankers, the saint is celebrated by many people who carry the different iterations of the name Nicholas and their families. A particular food is also associated with this day. </p> <p><img alt="blessing" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/st%20nicholas%20day%20sozopol%20style/blessing.jpg" title="The blessing of the fishermen, sailors and their ships is the centrepiece of the feast of St Nicholas in Sozopol" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The blessing of the fishermen, sailors and their ships is the centrepiece of the feast of St Nicholas in Sozopol</em></p> <p>Ironically, the traditional meal for the feast of sea-related St Nicholas is... carp, a freshwater fish. The so-called Nikuldenski sharan, or St Nicholas Day carp, is a culinary monstrosity of carp stuffed with walnuts, wrapped in dough and then baked in an oven. Some Bulgarians admit that they cannot stand it and prefer to celebrate with salmon, bream or mackerel, depending on their budget. Yet, many others swear they have been waiting for a whole year for it. </p> <p>For a particular group of Bulgarians, however, St Nicholas Day means a lot more more than getting stuffed with stuffed carp. The fishermen of Sozopol, the town at the Black Sea coast, are all too aware on how dependent their livelihood is on the unpredictable and often treacherous sea. For them, St Nicholas Day is the time of the year when they can pray for luck and commemorate all their friends and relatives who have perished at sea.</p> <p><img alt="ships at sea" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/st%20nicholas%20day%20sozopol%20style/sozopol%20ships.jpg" title="A signal marks the time wreaths commemorating dead sailors should be tossed at sea" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A signal marks the time wreaths commemorating dead sailors should be tossed at sea</em></p> <p>Sozopol's fishermen are a breed of their own. They are famed for being slightly tipsy from early in the morning, eager to tell anecdotes and voice their opinions on politics. They are generous and boastful and, if they like you, will share their meal, their rakiya and their life stories with you. </p> <p>You rarely see them in summer, when they take to sea before dawn and drink aniseed liquor under the awnings of clandestine taverns known only to the locals. In winter, however, Sozopol is theirs, and the day when they are most visible, friendly and, of course, tipsy is 6 December, the feast of St Nicholas. </p> <p>In Sozopol, which has relied on fishing and seafaring since its foundation by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC, St Nicholas's Day is a serious affair. </p> <p><img alt="fish" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/st%20nicholas%20day%20sozopol%20style/fish.jpg" title="Fishing has been crucial for the livelihood of generations of Sozopol inhabitants" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Fishing has been crucial for the livelihood of generations of Sozopol inhabitants</em></p> <p>On the morning of 6 December, Sozopol's townsfolk attend Mass in St George's Church, in the old town. The priest blesses wreaths and bunches of flowers dedicated to those who were lost at sea. Then he leads a solemn procession, with the icon of St Nicholas carried by respected citizens, all the way to the harbour. There, the priest blesses the fishermen and the sailors, and all boats, ships and yachts moored in the bay. The flowers are distributed among the boat captains, who then sail out to sea and, at a signal, toss the wreaths away on the waves, a dedication to ll those who lost their lives. </p> <p>Once this is done, the 6th of December turns on a more festive mode. The seamen come back ashore, where there is drink and of course plenty of fish. They spend the hours until dark feasting, telling stories, remembering dead friends and complaining about the fate of fishermen who are so dependent on the capricious sea. </p> <p><img alt="fish soup" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/194/st%20nicholas%20day%20sozopol%20style/fish%20soup.jpg" title="After the ceremony, everyone is treated to a bowl of fresh fish soup" /></p> <p>Visiting Sozopol on the 6 December will provide an opportunity to partake of all of this as the party is open for everyone and everyone is very welcome. Being able to walk the empty streets of the Old Town and take in all that is extremely touristy in high season is a huge bonus. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-194" hreflang="en">Issue 194</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/254" hreflang="en">The Black Sea</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/227" hreflang="en">Bulgarian traditions</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3589&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="HrpgBV_JstP1wU8Cp99FzpmJDY4vCdlVvmdSP5ppZw4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 29 Nov 2022 08:09:25 +0000 DimanaT 3589 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/st-nicholas-day-sozopol-style-3589#comments FIRST KINGS OF EUROPE https://vagabond.bg/index.php/first-kings-europe-3561 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">FIRST KINGS OF EUROPE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff, America for Bulgaria Foundation</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 10/29/2022 - 13:30</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Ancient treasures from Bulgaria make centrepiece of Chicago Field Museum exhibition</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-10/gold%20wreath.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-10/gold%20wreath.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="thracian gold wreath" title="thracian gold wreath" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Goddess Nike is on the gold wreath of a Thracian nobleman whose grave was discovered near the modern villages of Zlatinitsa and Malomirovo. The find is in the collection of the National History Museum</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Who were the first kings of Europe? Homer heroes such as Agamemnon are the first to pop up in the minds of educated Westerners, but hierarchical societies on the continent predate the ancient Greeks. Millennia before them, people in southeastern Europe went on the long and often tortuous transition from simple farming communities to complex political organisations.</p> <p>An exhibition tells their story to audiences in the United States and Canada, unveiling a world of history, discovery and fascination. Organised by the Field Museum and scheduled to open in New York City, Chicago and Gatineau, Canada, The First Kings of Europe features finds lent by some of the finest museums in Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and others. These artefacts reveal the life, power and religions in prehistoric Europe between the end of the last Ice Age and the 1st millennium BC, and are as beautiful as they are scientifically important: elegant and mysterious pottery and ceramic objects, elaborate pieces of jewellery and impressive weapons, and tools of copper and bronze.</p> <p><img alt="boron treasure" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/borovo%20treaure.jpg" title="boron treasure" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A feast is depicted on the vessels from the Borovo Treasure in the Ruse Regional History Museum</em></p> <p>Some of the exhibition's centrepieces come from Bulgaria, which lies on an ancient crossroads since the first farmers' arrived from the Middle East. The Bulgarian finds come from the collections of the National History Museum, the Ruse Regional History Museum and the Varna Archaeology Museum, and were included in the exhibition with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation.</p> <p>Gold clothes ornaments, pieces of jewellery, a staff and a suspected penis sheath: the finds from the Varna Chalcolithic necropolis, which date back to 5000 BC, are unparalleled in their historical significance. Made by a community that already knew how to make tools and weapons of copper, they are the earliest gold objects known to science worldwide. Their importance goes even further. The gold items were buried, along with other precious objects such as fine flint tools, lavishly decorated pottery and sea shells imported from the Mediterranean, in just a couple of graves in a large necropolis. This is a clear sign of social stratification, one of the earliest indicators that simple farming communities of the Neolithic had given way to more hierarchical societies.</p> <p><img alt="varna necropolis gold" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/varna%20necropolis%20gold.jpg" title="varna necropolis gold" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Bull-shaped clothes ornaments of gold, discovered in an empty, probably symbolic, grave in the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis. The necropolis finds are the centrepiece of the Varna Archaeology Museum. Photography by Ádám Vágó © Field Museum</em></p> <p>Who were the people at the top of the social pyramid? Were they kings? Or priests? Or both? How did they manage to stay in power?</p> <p>Historians and archaeologists still struggle to find the answer. Social change in prehistoric southeastern Europe could have been provoked by mastering copper production. People, who were able to turn seemingly insignificant pieces of rock into hot metal and then into effective tools and weapons, might have appeared to the laity as magicians or masters of divine faculties, thus amassing political power as well. Another factor could have been the widening of preexisting long-distance trade routes and the introduction of organised trade with valuable commodities such as salt.</p> <p><img alt="borovo treasure rhyton" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/borovo%20treasure%20rhython.jpg" title="borovo treasure rhyton" /></p> <p><em>A rhyton, or horn-like drinking vessel, from the Borovo Treasure. Ruse Regional History Museum. Photography by</em> Ádám Vágó © Field Museum</p> <p>Social transformation in prehistoric southeastern Europe continued further when the region entered into the Bronze Age. This was an era of new and better tools and weapons of a more effective metal, the introduction of horses as combatant animals and a supposedly violent change of populations and even of religions from more feminine to a more masculine pantheon. All of these led to even more complex societies: people organised to survive in a changing environment with increased danger of war.</p> <p>Eventually, in the 2nd millennium BC, in the lands of what is now Bulgaria, a people whose name we know from historical sources emerged. These were the Thracians. In the 1st millennium BC they created kingdoms, built fortresses and tombs, and made history. The Thracians persisted in the region for centuries. They adapted to the Roman conquest until, in the 7th century AD, they were incorporated in the then young Bulgarian state. But before then, in the 1st millennium BC, they were an important political actor. The Persian invasion in the late 6th century BC galvanised the Thracian tribes into creating the first historically documented kingdoms in the region. These remained a fixture in southeastern Europe until the Romans' arrival.</p> <p><img alt="first kings of europe exhibition opening" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/first%20kings%20of%20europe%20exhibition.jpg" title="first kings of europe exhibition opening" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The exhibition already attracts crowds at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in NYC</em></p> <p>The Thracian kingdoms were ruled by a powerful elite of kings, noblemen and their armies. The objects from the grave of a mid-4th century BC Thracian nobleman, excavated by the modern villages Malomirovo and Zlatinitsa, featured in the First Kings of Europe, present a coherent picture of the lifestyle and beliefs of the Thracian elite.</p> <p>The man was just 18-20 years old when he died and was buried as befitting for a Thracian noble – in a tumulus, along with expensive items and slaughtered dogs and horses. As he was a warrior, a classical bowed Thracian sword, 177 bronze arrows, seven spears, a knitted breastplate and a helmet decorated with a three-headed snake accompanied him in his grave. The silver greave with gilt and decoration of a human face is more enigmatic – it would be impractical to use in a real battle, and the other part of the pair is missing. The other luxury items buried with the man reveal the deceased's lifestyle and religious beliefs – a beautiful gold wreath, a gold ring picturing himself receiving immortality from the Great Goddess, and a set of silver and gilt drinking vessels.</p> <p><img alt="ancient thracian greave" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/ancient%20thracian%20greave.jpg" title="ancient thracian greave" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The silver greave from the Zlatinitsa-Malomirovo grave, from the collection of the National History Museum, was a part of the exhibition at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York City</em></p> <p>Drinking also defines another impressive find representing the ancient Thracians in the First Kings of Europe exhibition. The Borovo Treasure was discovered accidentally near Ruse and consists of vessels that initially belonged to different sets, made between the late 5th and the late 4th century: three rhytons, or horn-like vessels, a vessel combining the shape of a rhyton and a jug, and a krater, or a deep bowl with two handles for mixing of wine and water. The treasure was possibly used in rituals devoted to Dionysus or the Cabeiri, the Thracian deities of sea, fertility, fire and metallurgy.</p> <p>The rhytons were probably made at a workshop specialising in such craft in the northwestern part of Asia Minor. The name, in Greek, of the Thracian king Cotys is written on two of them. The krater is adorned with a scene of a gryphon attacking a doe, its style suggests that it was made by a Thracian artisan.</p> <p><img alt="borovo treasure exhibition" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/first%20kings%20of%20europe%20exhibition%20treasure.jpg" title="borovo treasure exhibition" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Two rhytons from the Borovo Treasure, exhibited in NYC. The treasure is kept at Ruse Regional History Museum</em></p> <p>According to a hypothesis, the treasure was a gift by King Cotys, who ruled south of the Stara Planina mountain range, to an anonymous Thracian king whose realm was north. Why and when it was buried remains a mystery. It could have been hidden in turbulent times, but religious activity is another possible explanation. Thracian kings used to bury precious items as a way to appease the gods or to declare their ownership on their lands.</p> <p>The gold earring with a delicate depiction of Goddess Nike on a chariot, discovered in a funeral mound near Sinemorets, at the Black Sea coast, is also related to religion. According to archaeologists, the grave possibly belonged to a priestess.</p> <p><img alt="gold earring" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/ancient%20thracian%20gold%20earring.jpg" title="gold earring" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Gold earring with the Goddess Nike found in a grave near Sinemorets, from the collection of the National History Museum. Photography by Ádám Vágó © Field Museum</em></p> <p>The First Kings of Europe tells a fascinating story and presents a rare opportunity to introduce a little known culture to an overseas audience. The New York City show is already open for visitors, at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, until February 2023. On 31 March, The First Kings of Europe will open at Chicago's Field Museum where it will stay until the end of January 2024. From April 2024 to January 2025, the exhibition will be at the Canadian Museum of History Gatineau, QC, Canada. </p> <p class="text-align-center"><img alt="NYC exhibition visitor" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/first%20kings%20of%20europe/first%20kings%20of%20europe%20exhibition%20nyc.jpg" title="NYC exhibition visitor" /><em>A visitor of the NYC exhibition</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-193" hreflang="en">Issue 193</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/224" hreflang="en">Thracian heritage</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/258" hreflang="en">Thracian treasures</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/280" hreflang="en">Bulgarian history</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3561&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="cre_Jond950ORFOh3l5ZriNVVEOkTjQ8ZjKrhYIcFCw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 29 Oct 2022 10:30:26 +0000 DimanaT 3561 at https://vagabond.bg BULGARIA'S VERSION OF CANNERY ROW IS IN CHENGENE SKELE https://vagabond.bg/index.php/bulgarias-version-cannery-row-chengene-skele-3559 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BULGARIA&#039;S VERSION OF CANNERY ROW IS IN CHENGENE SKELE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">text and photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 10/29/2022 - 13:19</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Nondescript fishermen's settlement gains notoriety as 'alternative' Black Sea makeout spot</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-10/fishermen%20settlement%20bulgaria%20sunset.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-10/fishermen%20settlement%20bulgaria%20sunset.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="fishermen settlement bulgaria sunset" title="fishermen settlement bulgaria sunset" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Chengene Skele from air</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Any chance visitor who has detoured midway from the Burgas-Sozopol highway, on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, will end up in an odd location. As you drive up the bad road to the infamous maritime oil terminal, now the property of Russian giant LUKoil, you will inevitably take in an assortment of buildings – some of them makeshift, others with a more stable construction, but none appearing as if designed by a professional architect. Then you are in for the first big hit, a road sign announcing "Everything away from sea is provincial," according to Ernest Hemingway. A little further up the road a stone relief will reveal... US writer John Steinbeck, the 1962 Nobel Prize winner, who penned such masterpieces as The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men.</p> <p><img alt="steinbeck memorial bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/bulgarias%20version%20of%20cannery%20row%20is%20in%20chengene%20skele/fishermen%20settlement%20burgas%20steinbeck.jpg" title="steinbeck memorial bulgaria" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Probably the only place outside Salinas, California, where you can see a monument to John Steinbeck (1902-1968)</em></p> <p>Rub your eyes. You are not in Salinas, California, but in Chengene Skele, 10 miles south of Burgas. And yes, the street you just stepped on is called Cannery Row! And yes, generations of Bulgarians grew up with Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat and Sweet Thursday, often identifying themselves with the characters and trying to emulate their way of "peaceful wine drinking" and not being in a hurry for anything.</p> <p>To understand how John Steinbeck ended in Bulgaria you need a bit of local history.</p> <p>Chengene Skele is a Bulgarianised Turkish name which in translation means "Gypsy Harbour." The name is self-explanatory: at the turn of the 20th century the area was used as a fishermen's settlement, and many of the small-time fish catchers were local Gypsies. They would go out to sea in the early hours of the morning and by 10 o'clock they would already be drinking their wine: the working day had ended for them.</p> <p><img alt="abandoned boat bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/bulgarias%20version%20of%20cannery%20row%20is%20in%20chengene%20skele/abandoned%20boat%20bulgaria.jpg" title="abandoned boat bulgaria" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A river boat permanently docked at Chengene Skele was used as a training ground for divers. It has now been abandoned for years</em></p> <p>Through the 20th century Chengene Skele had an uneasy relationship with the authorities of Burgas. In the 1970s, as the Port of Burgas expanded, the fishermen were ordered to move their boats elsewhere. Chengene Skele was a convenient location. However, the official promises of the City Council it would undertake to supply water and electricity to Chengene Skele never materialised. The locals simply had to take matters in their own hands.</p> <p>Later, Chengene Skele was threatened with extinction because, understandably, none of its residents conformed to any urban planning, rubbish processing and so on. Most of the shacks erected there had no building permits. While some fishermen did live their fulltime year round, others just used the huts only occasionally, when they went out with their dinghies.</p> <p><img alt="fishermen settlement bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/bulgarias%20version%20of%20cannery%20row%20is%20in%20chengene%20skele/fishermen%20settlement%20burgas.jpg" title="fishermen settlement bulgaria" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Fishermen's Settlement likes Hemingway: "Everything that's far away from sea is provincial."</em></p> <p>Things started to change in the 2010s when some EU funds were channelled into Chengene Skele to improve infrastructure. In recent years the fishermen's settlement has gained a somewhat cult status as visitors not only from Burgas but from elsewhere stop by to try the local fish soup and the catch of the day – never in short supply. In addition to Black Sea scad, goby, and seasonally bonito and turbot the local eatery always has mussels, shrimps and roe – at very affordable prices. Both Steinbeck and Hemingway would have loved it.</p> <p>But be warned. If you visit in any time outside the cold months you will have to negotiate your way with the swarms of mosquitoes which locals claim can reach the size of sparrows. Unless you take all reasonable precautions you risk being eaten alive before you ever get yourselves to the fish soup. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-193" hreflang="en">Issue 193</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/254" hreflang="en">The Black Sea</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/235" hreflang="en">PostCommunism</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3559&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="lAR0vita7v8eeN27Lkzf9pwk2xSwT-GVv0xUNZxqC3Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 29 Oct 2022 10:19:30 +0000 DimanaT 3559 at https://vagabond.bg SURPRISE, SURPRISE IN... PERNIK https://vagabond.bg/index.php/surprise-surprise-pernik-3557 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">SURPRISE, SURPRISE IN... PERNIK</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 10/29/2022 - 13:08</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Derelict industrial town holds hidden gems</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-10/industrial%20ruins%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-10/industrial%20ruins%20bulgaria.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="industrial ruins bulgaria" title="industrial ruins bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>When you plan a trip in Bulgaria, Pernik is rarely on the list (except for one event, more on this below). An industrial behemoth of the Communist era that fell on hard times after the collapse of the planned economy post-1989, the city is known for its uninspiring urbanscape of factories in different states of dereliction. Its residents now often commute to nearby Sofia – less than 20 miles away, and have the dubious reputation of spending weekend nights in local clubs where fights are de rigueur. The comparison to Tolkien's Mordor has been made in popular culture and social media so frequently that is has long stopped being interesting or funny.</p> <p>This explains why most people just pass by Pernik on their way to more attractive places, like Rila Monastery, Greece or North Macedonia. However, if you do leave the highway and head towards Pernik, you will discover a place that is, if not fascinating, then at least interesting to explore.</p> <p>Pernik, for example, is one of the few old towns in Bulgaria which has not changed its name since its foundation. It has been Pernik since a fortress was built on the easily defended bends of the river Struma in the 9th century. The only hiatus was between 1949 and 1962, when the city's name was Dimitrovo, after Communist dictator Georgi Dimitrov, who was born in the nearby village of Kovachevtsi.</p> <p><img alt="mining directorate pernik" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/mining%20directorate%20pernik.jpg" title="mining directorate pernik" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>"Glory to the miners' labour" says a sign on the façade of the Mineworks Directorate, an emblematic Pernik site. In front of it is one of the few monuments to the victims of the Communist regime in Bulgaria. The directorate was privatised along with the Pernik mines after 1989. Its owner went bankrupt and in 2022 the National Revenue Agency put the building into receivership. Scandalised that the directorate could fall victim to some investor who would turn it into a flashy mall or demolish it altogether, Pernik citizens forced the city council to buy the building back. Eventually, the Bulgarian government lent the needed money. Until recently, the building was used for offices and there was a mining museum on the ground floor. Its interior and exterior have not been changed since its construction in 1932</em></p> <p>The Pernik fort guarded the important trading and military road to the Aegean, and at the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries it became a hotbed of Bulgarian resistance against the advancing Byzantine Empire. The local lord, Krakra, fought the invaders bravely and with all of his might, but in 1017 he saw that resistance was futile and surrendered to Emperor Basil II. His fortress remained an important outpost until the end of the Middle Ages, when it was abandoned. People, however, still lingered around the area.</p> <p>In 1869, the fate of Pernik changed. Under Ottoman rule, significant deposits of coal were discovered in the environs and these were soon exploited. When Bulgaria regained its independence, in 1878, Pernik became one of the hubs of the new economy. The coal mines expanded, with Bulgarian and foreign investment, and a number of other industries sprang up, including glass factories and steel mills. The population of Pernik increased, rising from 1,413 to 12,296 between 1892 and 1926. Within a generation, Pernik became the industrial heart of still largely agrarian Bulgaria.</p> <p><img alt="communist art pernik" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/communist%20art%20pernik.jpg" title="communist art pernik" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The face of Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s forst Communist dictator, dominates over nameless Pernik miners in this relief in central Pernik. Dimitrov was instrumental for the organisation of the two big miners' strikes for better working conditions, in 1906 and 1919</em></p> <p>It was only natural that this trend intensified when Bulgaria became a Communist state in the mid-1940s. Pernik became one of the favourites of the new regime, and not only because a number of top apparatchiks were born in the area. The city had all the prerequisites for an exemplary workers' community, and workers were the most fêted class in Socialist society. More factories were built, including those for heavy machinery and metallurgy, and the coal mines expanded even more.</p> <p>The city swarmed with new inhabitants, spreading out across the valley. Today Pernik has 10 large and 33 smaller neighbourhoods, the names of some of which reflect why and how they came into being – like Prouchvane – or Survey, and Rudnichar – or Miner.</p> <p><img alt="culture house pernik" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/culture%20house%20pernik.jpg" title="culture house pernik" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Palace of Culture. The graffiti on the fountain's edge depict Pernik's symbol, two crossed hammers. The building was used as a backdrop in a 1970s East bloc movie about the deposition of late President Allende of Chile</em></p> <p>Like all the industrial centres of Communist Bulgaria, Pernik suffered heavily during the post-1989 transitional period from a planned to a free market economy. Many factories were closed down and others scaled back production, leading to mass emigration. Pernik remains a sort of an industrial hub, specialising in heavy metallurgy, and has a major thermal power plant, but it is far from what it used to be in the past.</p> <p>The face of Pernik is a mosaic of all the crucial periods in its history. The fortress where it all began is the city's main tourist attraction. Now known as Krakra, it is about 2 km from the city centre, on a plateau with fine views of the area. Until recently, a visit to the fortress made for a pleasant walk among greenery and the low walls of fortifications and medieval churches. A recent initiative, however, has robbed the place of all its rustic charm. Walls of plastic and metal now rise above the genuine ruins, "recreating" the long lost turrets of the fortress. As with so many fortresses these days, the "reconstruction" was made with EU funding, under the Regional Development Programme. It caused an outcry, but it is unlikely that the new structures will be demolished before the elements take over.</p> <p><img alt="georgi dimitrov monument" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/georgi%20dimitrov%20monument.jpg" title="georgi dimitrov monument" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Monument to Georgi Dimitrov, who was born in nearby Kovachevitsa</em></p> <p>The centre of Pernik is a mixture of buildings from the various stages of industrialisation. Among the rather drab and faceless apartment blocks and administrative buildings from the 1970s and the 1980s, the neo-Classical buildings of the Mineworks Directorate and the so-called Mining Church from the 1920s-1930s stand out, as does the Palace of Culture, from 1957 – a gem of Stalinist baroque style that has been used as film stage sets.</p> <p>Pernik has its own history museum, whose exhibition includes artefacts from a Roman era sanctuary of Asclepius and Hygieia, but more interesting is the underground Mining Museum. Established in the 1980s. It went through a period of abandonment and ruin in the 1990s, and was reopened in the late 2000s.</p> <p><img alt="abandoned restaurant" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/modern%20ruins%20bulgaria.jpg" title="abandoned restaurant" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>An abandoned restaurant near Krakra Fortress</em></p> <p>Curiously, the most popular cultural event in Pernik has nothing to do with heavy industry, but with traditional Bulgarian culture. It is the Surva mummers festival, the event mentioned at the beginning of this article. Held each year in January or February (the dates vary) since 1966, it brings together folklore groups from all over Bulgaria and Europe. On the coldest days of the year, when Pernik is even greyer than usual, the colourful masked men fill the central streets. Their bright costumes enliven the damp winter and the ringing of their bells echoes between the buildings, providing another reason to show that Pernik is not as unwelcoming as it is perceived by most Bulgarians. </p> <p class="text-align-center"><img alt="mummers pernik" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/surprise%20in%20pernik/mummers%20pernik.jpg" title="mummers pernik" /><em>The mummers that participate in the Surva festival take their costumes seriously. Many are dedicated to preserving the authenticity of the tradition that celebrates the rebirth of nature in late winter</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-193" hreflang="en">Issue 193</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/302" hreflang="en">20th century Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/223" hreflang="en">Communist Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/235" hreflang="en">PostCommunism</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3557&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="xpZ3es4Pv_gw3nihDoUtkjmK2Ci9R_GCUwWlKIHybxI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 29 Oct 2022 10:08:21 +0000 DimanaT 3557 at https://vagabond.bg WHO WAS ALEKSANDAR STAMBOLIYSKI? https://vagabond.bg/index.php/who-was-aleksandar-stamboliyski-3555 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHO WAS ALEKSANDAR STAMBOLIYSKI?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 10/29/2022 - 12:59</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria's first dictator or genuine democrat</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-10/aleksandar%20stamboliyski.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-10/aleksandar%20stamboliyski.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="Monument to Aleksandar Stamboliyski in front of the Sofia Opera and Ballet house" title="Monument to Aleksandar Stamboliyski in front of the Sofia Opera and Ballet house" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Monument to Aleksandar Stamboliyski in front of the Sofia Opera and Ballet house</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>When you visit the Sofia Opera and Ballet House you will see an imposing bronze statue of a heavy-set man beside the grand entrance. Dressed in an old-fashioned suit and overcoat, a curled moustache on his round face, he must be an important singer, right?</p> <p>Wrong. This man has nothing to do with opera or any of the arts for that matter. He is Aleksandar Stamboliyski (1879-1923), one of Bulgaria's most controversial politicians. He rose to prominence in the early 20th century, created his own political ideology and tried to turn it into reality. He failed and met a gruesome end, leaving behind a legacy that still divides the nation.</p> <p>To understand the role this man played in early 20th century Bulgaria, you need to go back to the first years after Liberation from Ottoman rule. In the 1880s and the 1890s the Bulgarian society was at a crossroads. The country's economy and its society were overwhelmingly rural, consisting mainly of small-time farmers who used primitive technology to till their lands. In its efforts to Europeanise Bulgaria as quickly as possible, the government invested mainly in urban development, infrastructure and industry.</p> <p>Understandably, many villagers felt left behind and disenfranchised. In the 1890s, led by the rural intelligentsia, they started to form coops and unions to help them acquire modern farming technology and improve their lives.</p> <p>In 1899, a government decision galvanised the peasantry. After years of bad harvests, various outbreaks of disease affecting farm animals and the rise of personal debt in rural Bulgaria, a government default on international creditors was looming. The government decided to return to taxing villagers in kind, but the peasantry was far from happy: being the most populous sector of the nation, it was already the largest tax payer. Why, then, were they not properly represented? The same year they formed their first national professional organisation, the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union, or BZNS.</p> <p>The union quickly became politicised, and in 1901 it launched a political party with the aim of giving both voice and power to the peasantry.</p> <p><img alt="aleksandar stamboliyski as prime minister" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/who%20was%20aleksandar%20stamboliyski/stamboliyski%201919.jpg" title="aleksandar stamboliyski as prime minister" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Stamboliyski was just 40 years old when he had to lead the nation during one of its darkest times and sign a humiliating peace treaty with the victorious Allies after the First World Wa</em>r</p> <p>Enter Aleksandar Stamboliyski. Born in Slavovitsa, a village near Pazardzhik, he had studied philosophy and agronomy in Germany for a while before participating in the founding of the BZNS in 1899. Assertive and ambitious, he soon rose through the ranks and was among the initiators of its transformation into a political party. By 1905 he was the de facto leader and in 1908 he was elected to parliament.</p> <p>The following year, he published his best known political treatise, Political Parties or Professional Organisations. His ideology was partially inspired by popular ideas of the time, including Marxism, but with a strong Bulgarian slant. Stamboliyski maintained that Bulgarian society could not be divided along class lines, and that political parties were useless in serving the people. Instead, Bulgarian society should be divided on an estate principle, with all the power vested in the peasantry, which he viewed as the embodiment of traditional Bulgarian values. Though they were by far the most populous sector of the population the peasants were exploited by rich urbanites with their deeply corrupt lifestyles and mores.</p> <p>Stamboliyski's unorthodoxy ran in many different directions. He was a republican, and he opposed the prevailing nationalistic sentiment to unite all the Bulgarian-inhabited lands into one Bulgarian state, with the emphasis on Macedonia. While Bulgaria was preparing for war with Serbia over Macedonia, he advised peace and friendship with the Serbs.</p> <p>Stamboliyski was ready to pay for his ideas. When he opposed Bulgaria joining the Great War in 1915 on the side of Germany, advocating neutrality, he was sentenced to life in prison.</p> <p>He did not stay in jail for long. By September 1918, it was evident that Bulgaria had backed the wrong horse in the war. While the government was negotiating a truce, the soldiers on the Thessaloniki frontline mutinied and headed towards Sofia – a violent group of dissatisfied, exhausted men hungry for revenge on those responsible for what would become known as the Second National Catastrophe (the first was in 1913, after Bulgaria lost the Second Balkan War and much of its territory, including Macedonia).</p> <p>With the rebels approaching Sofia, the government sent Stamboliyski to negotiate a settlement with the mutineers. Stamboliyski became their leader instead.</p> <p>The revolt was brutally crushed by pro-government forces and, fearing the consequences, Stamboliyski went into hiding.</p> <p>The setback did not last long, however.</p> <p>In October, King Ferdinand I, who had led Bulgaria into both national catastrophes, abdicated and his son, King Boris III, ascended the throne. In December, participants in the soldier's rebellion were pardoned, and Stamboliyski quickly reentered political life, where his star rose rapidly.</p> <p>In January 1919, he became a minister in the coalition government that was trying to save Bulgaria from the impending economic and political crisis, and to negotiate peace terms with the victors of the Great War.</p> <p><img alt="memorial water fountain to aleksandar stamboliyski" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/who%20was%20aleksandar%20stamboliyski/memorial%20water%20fountain.jpg" title="memorial water fountain to aleksandar stamboliyski" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Memorial water fountain to Stamboliyski near his home village, Slavovitsa. In 2021, it was vandalised – the words "National traitor" were red-painted on it. The politician is buried in a stone mausoleum in the village. BZNS members and activists gather there on 14 June to mark the anniversary of his murder</em></p> <p>That government failed and Bulgaria spiralled into a deep crisis. Radical political ideas took hold among the dissatisfied, impoverished population. In the August election the majority voted for the BZNS and the Socialists. Compromised by their political failures, the established parties seemed embarrassingly inadequate.</p> <p>In October 1919, a year after the failed soldier's rebellion, Stamboliyski became prime minister. Within a few weeks, on 27 November 1919, he had to undertake one of the toughest tasks a Bulgarian politician had ever faced: to sign a humiliating peace treaty, at Neuilly-sur-Seine in France. Reportedly, after signing he broke his pen in anger.</p> <p>For Bulgarians, that day remains one of the darkest dates in their history. Bulgaria lost long-coveted territories and had to take in thousands of refugees, while struggling with a ravaged economy, huge loss of life and heavy reparations. Bulgaria was ordered to maintain a defence force no greater than 30,000, including police and border guards.</p> <p>Stamboliyski's first cabinet was in coalition with some of the old, liberal parties, but these soon withdrew. By 1920, the government was already in the hands of the BZNS.</p> <p>They wasted no time, pushing through legislation against the "culprits of the national catastrophes," which quickly turned into a tool to deal with any political opposition.</p> <p>The BZNS also initiated radical reforms that fit their ideology. Ownership of farm land was limited to plots a single family could till. The state bought the excess land cheaply, and redistributed it to refugees. Some large-scale industrial concerns were also nationalised.</p> <p>The BZNS made education for children aged 7-14 years compulsory and free, and opened more schools. It also invested in higher education and in culture, and modernised Bulgarian grammar and the alphabet (some of their changes are still in use today).</p> <p>To solve the problem of labour shortages, the BZNS mobilised young men and women to work for free on infrastructure projects. This both helped the economy and bypassed some of the peace treaty restrictions, as it provided men with basic military training. However, conscripts could pay themselves out of service. Obviously, the situation benefitted the well-to-do and created fertile ground for corruption.</p> <p>Stamboliyski's policies quickly antagonised the upper and the middle classes, but this was just the tip of the societal iceberg. The intelligentsia, the Church and the military were also not spared. For the BZNS, these were all parasites living on the backs of the poor peasantry. The salaries of teachers, professors and others were reduced, the activities of military officers were closely monitored and some Church properties were nationalised.</p> <p>The fact that Stamboliyski's policies were enforced by the brutal Orange Guard, a paramilitary organisation whose weapon of choice was the club, hardly made him a darling among the growing number of opponents. By 1922, these included even the Communists, who were the BZNS's only proper opposition in parliament.</p> <p>Stamboliyski's foreign policy made him even more enemies. He wanted to normalise relations with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes (future Yugoslavia). The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation, or VMRO, which was rapidly transforming from a revolutionary movement to a terrorist structure with a deep influence in Bulgaria, was far from happy. In 1922, the VMRO tried to assassinate Stamboliyski but failed.</p> <p>And there were the corruption scandals. Stamboliyski ranted against the low mores of the intelligentsia and the urban elites, but his personal life was far from exemplary, if the rumours were to be believed. There were also hints of widespread corruption and embezzlement among the BZNS ranks.</p> <p>Stamboliyski did not concern himself with much of this, a classic case of hubris. In the elections of April 1923, the BZNS won 52 percent of the ballot that, according to a newly-introduced system, translated into 212 seats in a 245-member Parliament. Was he heading towards a dictatorship?</p> <p>Stamboliyski's foes believed this was the case, and that a coup was the only way to get rid of him. On 9 June a clandestine organisation, the Military Union, backed by some of the old political parties, and supposedly King Boris III himself, overthrew the BZNS government. The Communists decided to stand on the sidelines of what they said was a conflict between two bourgeois classes.</p> <p>The coup was not only quick, it was brutal. A number of high-ranking BZNS members were killed. Here and there, villagers rose up to defend the BZNS government, but the so-called June Uprising was quickly put down. Stamboliyski organised some resistance, but was overpowered and arrested in his villa in Slavovitsa. What happened there is one of the most infamous events in 20th century Bulgarian political history. Left in the hands of some VMRO fighters, Stamboliyski was tortured and murdered, his dead body mutilated beyond recognition.</p> <p><img alt="september 1923 mural" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/193/who%20was%20aleksandar%20stamboliyski/memorial%20mural%201923.jpg" title="september 1923 mural" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A mural made under Communism in Kilifarevo, a town near Veliko Tarnovo, represents the agrarians, who rose to defend the BZNS government in June 1923, and the Communists, who took power in the country in a Soviet-backed coup in 1944, as brothers-in-arms fighting for people's freedom. In reality, the Communists did not support the June 1923 revolt</em></p> <p>According to the Bulgarian officers who finally restored order, millions of leva, allegedly embezzled by Stamboliyski, were discovered in his cottage.</p> <p>The death of Stamboliyski set in motion a series of events that transformed Bulgarian society. The BZNS leader might have been heading towards dictatorship, but democracy was far from restored in Bulgaria.</p> <p>In September 1923, following orders from the Comintern in Moscow which had interpreted the situation in Bulgaria as ripe for a Bolshevik revolution, Communists rose in a poorly thoughtout and badly organised "uprising." Many BZNS members joined them, but the rebellion was brutally crushed by the government of Aleksandar "Blood-Stained Professor" Tsankov. This led to a vicious circle of retaliation, arrests of leftists and violence.</p> <p>The BZNS somehow survived and in the following years split into several factions which sometimes made it into parliament and sometimes did not. After the 1944 Communist coup, its leftwing incarnation was the only party allowed to exist as a token opposition that kept up the pretence of Bulgaria as a parliamentary democracy.</p> <p>After the collapse of Communism, in 1989, some of the BZNS returned to the political scene, but times had changed. Bulgaria had not been a rural based society or economy for decades. After a brief flourish, powered mainly by nostalgia for the supposedly good old days when everyone lived in a rural idyll, the BZNS slipped into political oblivion.</p> <p>The man who embodied the organisation's bolder and more violent past remains a controversial figure. After 1944, the Communists forgot their animosity and lionised Stamboliyski. One of Sofia's largest boulevards is still named after him and there is a Stamboliyski town, among others. There is the statue in front of the Opera, too, because that plot of land was initially purchased by the BZNS in the early 1920s for its headquarters. Construction started after the Second World War, and the building was designed with two purposes in mind: as the BZNS headquarters and as an opera and ballet venue. For years, the whole building was called the Aleksandar Stamboliyski Memorial House.</p> <p>Monuments to the 1923 September Uprising built under Communism are all over Bulgaria. The so-called 1923 June Uprising has received far less prominence.</p> <p>The house where Stamboliyski died is a gruesome museum. In one of the rooms, on the fading wallpaper, you can still see Stamboliyski's initials and the year 1923. He wrote it with his own blood: possibly a provocation to both his enemies and to posterity.</p> <p>Opinion on whether Stamboliyski was a hero or a villain is still divided. According to the political left wing, he was an idealist who tried to give a voice to and empower the voiceless and the powerless; an ideologue who broke new ground and tried to build a new type of democracy, one without political parties. His stance against the intelligentsia was misinterpreted; he opposed only a cultural elite that was completely detached from the plight of its own people.</p> <p>Liberals will never stomach the brutality of Stamboliyski's authoritarian regime. According to his most fervent critics, his ideas were either a semi-literate hodge-podge without any real value, or were in line with those of Italian fascists and German nationalists, or both.</p> <p>Intellectuals will never forget his dismissiveness. They see his hatred towards the cultured elite as a progenitor of the purges of the intelligentsia by the Communists immediately after 1944. Even today, some Bulgarians have a strong, and sometimes justified, distrust of any person of intellectual bearing.</p> <p>For nationalists, Stamboliyski was a traitor, a man who abandoned the plight of Bulgarians in Macedonia.</p> <p>As with so many other historical figures, Stamboliyski might have been all of the above. In early 2020s Bulgaria, his story seems more poignant than ever, replete with an uncanny resemblance to this nation's current political affairs.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-193" hreflang="en">Issue 193</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/280" hreflang="en">Bulgarian history</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/302" hreflang="en">20th century Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3555&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="LEWpi91QgDy-yo9JmRW81X_A7NbBVU2hGZxciexobuc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 29 Oct 2022 09:59:31 +0000 DimanaT 3555 at https://vagabond.bg ALL AROUND KARDZHALI https://vagabond.bg/index.php/all-around-kardzhali-3518 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">ALL AROUND KARDZHALI</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sun, 08/28/2022 - 15:43</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>City in deep south may appear dull, but environs are marvel of nature, history</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-08/dam%20rhodope.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-08/dam%20rhodope.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="Kardzhali Dam is a preferred spot for picnic, photos and some water fun" title="Kardzhali Dam is a preferred spot for picnic, photos and some water fun" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Kardzhali Dam is a preferred spot for picnic, photos and some water fun</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>When you have a long weekend ahead and the weather looks good for a trip, heading to Kardzhali is a great option. The Rhodope mountains are beautiful – pleasant and refreshing in all seasons – and this city is the perfect base to explore some interesting sites.</p> <p>Kardzhali itself is hardly an attraction. It is a relatively new city dominated by faceless Communist and post-Communist architecture. Besides its Regional History Museum, located in a beautiful building initially constructed in the 1920s for a Muslim religious school, there is nothing more to see.</p> <p>However, its environs more than make up for this. The idyllic hills around are scattered with natural phenomena, ancient Thracians shrines and stunning landscapes.</p> <p><img alt="The rock city of Perperikon is a puzzle of buildings and fortifications" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/perperikon%20rock%20city.jpg" title="The rock city of Perperikon is a puzzle of buildings and fortifications" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The rock city of Perperikon is a puzzle of buildings and fortifications</em></p> <p>Arguably the best known of these is Perperikon, the rock city a few miles north of Kardzhali, which was carved out millennia ago. It is said to have been the seat of the famed ancient oracle of Dionysus who predicted the glorious future of both Alexander the Great and Emperor Augustus. It is also dubbed "the Bulgarian Machu Picchu."</p> <p>What you will encounter there reinforces Perperikon's reputation, although the Machu Picchu comparison is a bit of an overstatement. Rising above the picturesque valley of the Perpereshka River, Perperikon stands atop a rocky hill. The site has been extensively excavated, revealing walls, stairs, cisterns, churches, palace buildings, a necropolis and the remains of a medieval fort.</p> <p><img alt="A medieval tower is the sole survivor of Perperkion's extensive fortifications" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/perperikon%20tower.jpg" title="A medieval tower is the sole survivor of Perperkion's extensive fortifications" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A medieval tower is the sole survivor of Perperkion's extensive fortifications</em></p> <p>Covering more than 5 sq km, Perperikon is the largest megalithic site in the Balkans. People visited here to fill crevices in the rocks with fragments of pots as offerings to unknown deities or spirits as early as the 6th millennium BC. Suddenly, and for reasons that remain enshrouded in the mist of history, all activity ceased. It would resume a thousand years later. Significantly, people started carving niches, altars, and basins into the rocks much later, in the 18th to 12th centuries BC. Gradually, a rock settlement was built around the shrine, boasting a fortified acropolis, a mighty palace and two neighbourhoods on the southern and the northern slopes of the hill.</p> <p>When the Romans took over the region, in the 1st century AD, they added their own buildings to Perperikon. The old fortification walls on the acropolis were reinforced, reaching almost 3m in width.</p> <p><img alt="perperikon" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/perperikon%20air.jpg" title="The easiest way to make sense of Perperikon's topography is to see it from above. The city was located on a domineering hill that used to control the main routes in this part of the Rhodope" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The easiest way to make sense of Perperikon's topography is to see it from above. The city was located on a domineering hill that used to control the main routes in this part of the Rhodope</em></p> <p>Christianity came in the early 5th century, but unlike other pagan sacred places in the Balkans, Perperikon was not abandoned. Instead, Christians moved into the empty temples, built churches over them and turned the place into a stronghold for the local bishops.</p> <p>Life on Perperikon came to an end in 1362, when the Ottomans invaded and the hill was abandoned for good, leaving it to nature, which soon swallowed up the remains of the churches and the Thracian shrines.</p> <p>The site became a household name in the 2000s, when large-scale archaeological excavations started. These continue to this day. As a result Perperikon looks different every year, warranting repeated visits.</p> <p>In the past few years Perperikon has found a rival in fame. The Thracian rock shrine at Tatul, east of Kardzhali, is a strange sight by any means. It is dominated by a rock in the shape of a truncated pyramid, with two tombs carved into it. None other than Orpheus, the legendary Thracian musician who descended into Hell and came back alive, lay buried there, or so a popular tale goes. How is it possible for a mythological personality to have a real-life grave? According to another hypothesis, the Orpheus from the Greek myths was based on a real man from Thrace, whose achievement was to reform the religion of the ancient Thracians, introducing into it Apollo, the god of light and enlightenment.</p> <p><img alt="tatul orpheus" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/tatul%20orpheus.jpg" title="Who was buried in this strange rock tomb? Tatul shrine is one of Bulgaria's greatest archaeological mysteries" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Who was buried in this strange rock tomb? Tatul shrine is one of Bulgaria's greatest archaeological mysteries</em></p> <p>If rock shrines are your thin, you will find a lesser known, but equally impressive one near Tatul. Harman Kaya near the village of Bivolyane is on a high plateau that rises above a meandering river. Like other Thracian rock shrines, it is packed with carvings, niches and basins. What makes it special are the two large circles that seem to have been deliberately cut into the rock floor. Some researchers have interpreted them as bases from which the ancient Thracians used to make astronomical observations.</p> <p><img alt="thracian rock shrine" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/thracian%20rock%20shrine.jpg" title="Harman Kaya shrine by the Bivolyane village" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Harman Kaya shrine by the Bivolyane village</em></p> <p>More Thracian riches await west of Kardzhali, at the village of Dazhdovnitsa, and east of it, at Dolno Cherkovishte village. There you will find some of the most mysterious objects created by the ancient Thracians, the rock niches. Made three millennia ago, they were carved into prominent rocks at precipitous heights. No one is sure why or how they were made.</p> <p>With the exception of Perperikon, all of the sites mentioned so far require little or no walking. However, you will need to hike for about an hour to see the mysterious Womb Cave, west of Kardzhali. It was discovered in the early 2000s, and as its name suggests, it looks like a vulva. The shape is not a coincidence. The Thracians deliberately carved the entrance to the cave as a symbolic representation of their much venerated Great Goddess, the mother of the entire universe. The cave was supposedly a temple to her. Some researchers even claim that on one particular day of the year the rays of the sun, which represents the Great God, reach the bottom of the cave and symbolically impregnate the goddess, thus continuing the eternal circle of life on earth.</p> <p>The landscapes around Kardzhali are equally impressive, with rolling hills, cliffs and rock formations rising above meandering rivers and photogenic nature phenomena.</p> <p><img alt="petrified wedding" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/petrified%20wedding.jpg" title="The Petrified Wedding by the Zimzelen village is an intriguing natural phenomenon with a dark legend. Some claim that there is a small pond by the feet of the stone pillar that was supposedly the groom. It formed from his tears" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Petrified Wedding by the Zimzelen village is an intriguing natural phenomenon with a dark legend. Some claim that there is a small pond by the feet of the stone pillar that was supposedly the groom. It formed from his tears</em></p> <p>By far the most popular is the Vkamenena Svatba, or the Petrified Wedding, near the village of Zimzelen, a couple of miles out of town. Wind and water have carved the soft volcanic rock into a group of white conical columns. Among them, two reddish pillars stand out. According to a legend, these are the petrified remains of a bride and a groom. The white stones around them are the rest of the wedding party.</p> <p>It is said that while the wedding party was descending the slope on its way to the home of the groom, a gust of wind lifted the veil covering the bride's face. Her father-in-law beheld the beauty of the bride and was instantly gripped by an unholy passion. God was quick to turn everyone into stone.</p> <p><img alt="stone mushrooms bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/stone%20mushroom%20bulgaria.jpg" title="Stone Mushrooms by the Beli Plast village" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Stone Mushrooms by the Beli Plast village</em></p> <p>Nearby, close to the village of Beli Plast, stands a group of stone mushrooms. The most spectacular of this "species" is 2.5m tall. This phenomenon is the result of underwater volcanic activity, combined with erosion when the ancient sea, which is now where the Rhodope mountain range rises, disappeared.</p> <p>Both the Petrified Wedding and the Stone Mushrooms are easily accessible by car.</p> <p>The so-called Petrified Forest, near Raven village in the Tatul area, consists of 20-odd scattered yellowish logs standing in a deep ravine. About 30 million years old, they are the calcified remains of a prehistoric forest that was engulfed by a volcano eruption. Some even claim that you can see the annual growth rings in the logs. This interesting site is not clearly marked, and to find it, it is better to ask for assistance from one of the villagers.</p> <p><img alt="rhodope dam" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/rhodope%20dam.jpg" title="The horseshoe bend by the Star Chitak village appeared when Kardzhali Dam raised the water level in this part of the Arda" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The horseshoe bend by the Star Chitak village appeared when Kardzhali Dam raised the water level in this part of the Arda</em></p> <p>Kardzhali is situated between two large dams on the river Arda: Kardzhali west of the city and Studen Kladenets east of it. Built in the 1950s and the 1960s, they inevitably changed the landscape with their massive walls and still waters stretching between forest-covered slopes. Kardzhali lake has a girdle of hotels and restaurants by its banks, and is the place to see arguably Bulgaria's best known horseshoe river bend. Located near Star Chitak village, it is deep and swirls almost 360-degrees, evoking the American Southwest rather than eastern Europe.</p> <p>Studen Kladenets's own famed horseshoe bend is on the road to Rabovo village. If you continue from there towards the walls of the reservoir you will see Sheytan Dere, or Devil's River. It lives up to its name. After the Arda was dammed, a narrow, menacing canyon became visible on the river bed. Until then, it had been hidden deep under the water.</p> <p><img alt="muslims bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/muslims%20bulgaria.jpg" title="Congregation at Podkova's Wooden Mosque" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Congregation at Podkova's Wooden Mosque</em></p> <p>If you want to see a monument of culture that is full of life, head south of Kardzhali. In Podkova village you will find Bulgaria's southernmost train station and a charming old mosque built entirely of wood, supposedly without the use of a single iron nail. The origins and history of the mosque are lost in time but, according to a legend, it was built by seven maidens whose fiancés were killed in battle. The girls vowed to remain unmarried, spent their dowries on wooden beams and built the mosque in a single night.</p> <p><img alt="tobacco pickers bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/discovering%20kardzhali/tobacco%20pickers%20bulgaria.jpg" title="Tobacco is a traditional crop for Kardzhali and the area. It has been in a steady decline for several decades now but many locals stick to it" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Tobacco is a traditional crop for Kardzhali and the area. It has been in a steady decline for several decades now but many locals stick to it</em></p> <p>Wherever you go in this part of the Rhodope, do not miss out on the opportunity to chat with the locals: shepherds in the lush mountain meadows, elderly women walking the hills, and young and old sitting in the shade of their yards, stringing sticky and smelly tobacco leaves. Friendly and hospitable, they embody the best character traits of the people who live in the mountains. It is these often unexpected encounters that bring a particular charm to travelling around Kardzhali, an experience that is hard to match elsewhere in Europe. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-191-192" hreflang="en">Issue 191-192</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/229" hreflang="en">The Rhodope</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/248" hreflang="en">Nature</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/280" hreflang="en">Bulgarian history</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/255" hreflang="en">Legends Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/224" hreflang="en">Thracian heritage</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/225" hreflang="en">Thracian shrines</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/259" hreflang="en">Thracian tombs</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3518&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="1WaE7ny7qZLguozDj-BZ_rdN78ADAZLUwjIwd6dsOhw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 28 Aug 2022 12:43:48 +0000 DimanaT 3518 at https://vagabond.bg (RE)BUILDING BULGARIA'S PAST https://vagabond.bg/index.php/rebuilding-bulgarias-past-3516 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">(RE)BUILDING BULGARIA&#039;S PAST</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 08/27/2022 - 11:03</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Over-restored ancient, medieval ruins keep popping up in past 15 years</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-09/veliko%20tarnovo%20fortress.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-09/veliko%20tarnovo%20fortress.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="veliko tarnovo fortress.jpg" title="trapezitsa fortress" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The fortifications on Trapezitsa hill, in Veliko Tarnovo, are were built in the 2010s in a bid to make Veliko Tarnovo more &quot;illuminating&quot; for visitors</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>When Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, the expectation was that membership would bring the struggling former Communist country closer to the more developed economies in Europe. Amazingly, one of the first things Bulgarians started spending EU money on was not on much needed infrastructure such as new roads, industries and businesses, or on modernising the education and healthcare systems. Instead, Bulgarian municipalities across the nation rushed to use EU funding to build... ruins.</p> <p>Over a decade, larger and smaller towns have erected ancient forts and medieval walls, towers and churches. The new constructions smell of fresh mortar and concrete, and their brand new tiled roofs and plastic-framed windows shine under the sun, but they are being advertised to the public and the media as a revival of Bulgaria's glorious past.</p> <p><img alt="Tsarevets's medieval fortifications, in Veliko Tarnovo, are among the best known images from Bulgaria. All were built either in the 1930s and in the 1980s" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/veliko%20tarnovo.jpg" title="Tsarevets's medieval fortifications, in Veliko Tarnovo, are among the best known images from Bulgaria. All were built either in the 1930s and in the 1980s" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Tsarevets's medieval fortifications, in Veliko Tarnovo, are among the best known images from Bulgaria. All were built either in the 1930s and in the 1980s</em></p> <p>In fact, constructing new ruins has been popular in Bulgaria for almost a century. It is not difficult to see why. While Bulgarians are proud with their 1,300 years of history, the land lacks spectacular ancient and medieval ruins because wars, conquests and later generations reusing them as building material have destroyed most of them. In the late 19th century, when Bulgaria was liberated after 500 years of Ottoman domination, the lack of ruins became something of a political problem. Bulgarians knew that they were an ancient people with a glorious past, but the humble remains of medieval capitals and ancient cities hardly fostered a feeling of pride. They needed more. The ruins problem became particularly acute after the devastation and trauma caused by the territorial losses in the wake of the Balkan and the First World War in 1913-1918.</p> <p>Rebuilding medieval ruins in Bulgaria began in the 1930s, in the old capital of Veliko Tarnovo. It was a time of heightened nationalistic sentiment that led to the country's involvement in the Second World War. The construction effort continued on a grand scale in the 1970s and the 1980s, when, after two decades of promoting "socialist internationalism," Communist Bulgaria switched to imaginative representation of those elements of the glorious past that the Communist Party thinkers deemed appropriate for the new order. At this time the foundations of the bigger buildings of the medieval capitals of Pliska, Preslav and Tarnovo were completely or partially rebuilt to what supposedly was their medieval grandeur.</p> <p><img alt="Contractors at work to build Sozopol's supposedly ancient and medieval wall, in 2013. Iron bars, a technology unknown in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, are clearly visible" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/sozopol%20fortress.jpg" title="Contractors at work to build Sozopol's supposedly ancient and medieval wall, in 2013. Iron bars, a technology unknown in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, are clearly visible" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Contractors at work to build Sozopol's supposedly ancient and medieval wall, in 2013. Iron bars, a technology unknown in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, are clearly visible</em></p> <p>But boosting national pride was only a part of the reasoning behind the hectic construction of ruins in the 2000s and 2010s. EU money was abundant and the Regional Development programmes allowed it to be spent on excavation, restoration and opening up of historical sites to foster local tourism and businesses. Raising the ghosts of forts and cities from the ground was seen as a win-win situation. Tourists would find new places to visit and take selfies at. Archaeologists, architects and construction companies would get more employment, locals would get new jobs, and the hotels and the restaurants would get more customers.</p> <p>However, the enthusiasm of making historical sites more exciting to visitors in combination with the lack of controls over the construction works led to severe breaches of international protocols for the preservation of archaeological heritage. Defined in the so-called Venice Charter and reaffirmed in the Nara Document of UNSECO's World Heritage Committee, the basic principles and rules of restoration of historical remains stipulate that preserving the authenticity of a monument is paramount. All reconstruction should be clearly indicated as such, and has to be done with materials as close to the original as possible. It must be designed after the original appearance of the monument.</p> <p><img alt="The Late Antiquity fortress at the Yaylata plateau after it was rebuilt in the 2010s" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/yaylata%20fortress.jpg" title="The Late Antiquity fortress at the Yaylata plateau after it was rebuilt in the 2010s" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Late Antiquity fortress at the Yaylata plateau after it was rebuilt in the 2010s</em></p> <p>This means that you cannot excavate the barely preserved walls of a fortress and then build on top of them towers, gates and crenellations unless you have a verifiable record showing what the original structure looked like. You cannot use concrete building blocks, shiny roof tiles and plastic window frames. A good example is the restoration of central Warsaw, now an UNESCO World Heritage Site, after the destruction of the Second World War: historical documents were referred to to rebuild the city as close to the original as possible. In Bulgaria, this is almost impossible because most of the medieval churches, forts and ancient city walls have been in ruins, literally, for centuries. The memories of their original design, not to speak of any blueprints and building papers, have been lost to time.</p> <p>The chief result of a decade of hectic rebuilding of ruins in Bulgaria is that the new structures dotting the country from Vidin to Rezovo and from Gotse Delchev to Kamen Bryag look brand new. They lack any atmosphere or authenticity.</p> <p><img alt="The &quot;restored&quot; ruins of the once atmospheric Trajan's Gate fortress" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/trajans%20gate.jpg" title="The &quot;restored&quot; ruins of the once atmospheric Trajan's Gate fortress" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The "restored" ruins of the once atmospheric Trajan's Gate fortress</em></p> <p>One of the early rebuilding projects of this sort was the restoration of the ancient and medieval fortification wall of Sozopol at the Black Sea coast. Erected in 2003 by an NGO with EU funding, it is still hailed as a major crowd-puller. Ironically, it has even gained an undeserved aura of authenticity in the hive mentality of Bulgarian social media. In 2021, when an entrepreneur successfully brought a legal case to demolish a part of the fortification wall as it obstructed the sea view from his restaurant, there was a public outcry. The Bulgarian Facebook saw this as yet another assault of uncontrolled capitalism on cultural heritage. Few remembered that the wall was less than 20 years old.</p> <p>The new ruins built after Sozopol's example mostly focused on Bulgaria's storied medieval past. One of the most notorious examples is in Veliko Tarnovo. Reconstruction in the old capital went on by erecting a brand new fortification wall on Trapezitsa hill, where the wealthy citizens used to live in the 12th-14th centuries. Three towers of the medieval fort overlooking Kyustendil were restored to their supposed original height of 14 m. New structures were also erected at Peristera fort, near Perushtitsa. The list is long.</p> <p><img alt="Plastic-fantastic: The &quot;socialisation&quot; of the Krakra fortress in Pernik went notoriously wrong" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/krakra%20fortress.jpg" title="Plastic-fantastic: The &quot;socialisation&quot; of the Krakra fortress in Pernik went notoriously wrong" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Plastic-fantastic: The "socialisation" of the Krakra fortress in Pernik went notoriously wrong</em></p> <p>In 2013, the efforts of the Pernik City Council to attract more attention to the town's main tourist site, the medieval fortress of Krakra, backfired spectacularly. Claiming that they wanted to spare the original walls from the weight of a new construction, the investor erected over them a lighter structure of metal and plastic. In the daytime it represents how the fortification looked and by night the "artistically illuminated" plastic panels look like shields. Or at least that was the idea. The result is pure kitsch. People compared the new Krakra Fortress to the remains of some cheap movie set and dubbed it Pernikland.</p> <p>Ancient Roman ruins were not spared either. The spectacular and deeply atmospheric ruin of a fortification known as Trajan's Gate, near Ihtiman, was rebuilt and reconstructed to such an extent that it has been completely robbed of its spirit. Another blatant example was the complete reconstruction of a Late Antiquity basilica in Sandanski. In the northeast of Bulgaria, the fortress on the Yaylata plateau was reconstructed using poor quality stones that had nothing in common with the original structure.</p> <p>Near Belchin village, the humble remains of a Late Antiquity fort were heavily rebuilt, complete with a church, gate and towers. Concrete was used for the reconstruction. The thorough rebuilding of a whole church no one had ever seen was at least questionable. Despite this, the Tsari Mali Grad project, as the compound is known and advertised, won the 2013 Building of the Year Award for conservation and restoration of cultural and historical heritage. The project's managers not only invented the architecture of the site, they also invented its history. Little is known about the original fortification and even its name is obscure, but this did not stop the promotion of the newly-named Tsari Mali Grad, or Little King's Town, as the "place where Bulgaria began."</p> <p>The trend for over-construction also affected one of Bulgaria's most important archaeological reserves. In 2017, the complete restoration of the Grand Basilica in Pliska, Bulgaria's first medieval capital, began. Parts of the church had already been restored under Communism, but in the 2010s this was obviously seen as insufficient. The whole structure should be finished, claimed the project's ideologue, the late Bozhidar Dimitrov, then director of the National History Museum. The Grand Basilica was the symbolic centre from which Christianity spread into the Bulgarian lands, and it was more important to "revive" it than to agonise over the stipulations of the Venice Charter and the Nara Document. Patriotism should come first. After an energetic start, the reconstruction of the Grand Basilica has now stalled, probably because the money ran out.</p> <p>Amazingly, some communities resisted the temptation to build over their ruins. In 2015 a proposal for the reconstruction of Plovdiv's fortification walls in the Old Town was tabled. Local citizens, architects and archaeologists did all they could, including booing Bozhidar Dimitrov during a public discussion, to have the project cancelled.</p> <p>Is the building of new ruins justified? The data, where there is any, is inconclusive. Tsari Mali Grad did become a tourist hotspot, to a large extent because of the hotel compound and spa facilities in close proximity to the new ruin. According to rumours, this had been the purpose all along, simply to attract customers.</p> <p>The large numbers of Bulgarian and foreign tourists taking selfies against the new fortifications at Trapezitsa Hill obviously do not mind. It is mainly locals who can be seen wandering around the restored towers at Kyustendil. For most of the new ruins it is hard to say whether they have generated the intended tourism revenue.</p> <p>There are also the suspicions that the recent building of ruins in Bulgaria was a smokescreen for some companies and individuals to gain access to EU cash. So far, the only serious claims of financial misdemeanour were made in the summer of 2021, when the then caretaker government announced both the quality of restoration of the Yaylata fort and the money spent on it were suspicious. The scandal did cause some ripples and then died out.</p> <p>What remains are the facts on the ground: poorly constructed fake ruins now litter Bulgaria's historical landscape.</p> <h3>THE GOOD EXAMPLES</h3> <p><strong>The Bishop's Basilica and the Small Basilica in Plovdiv</strong></p> <p>There are examples of restored and socialised archaeological heritage in Bulgaria that show that a better, science-based approach at popularising historical sites is possible. They are both in Plovdiv.</p> <p><img alt="Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/bishops%20basilica%20philippopolis.jpg" title="The Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis and the Small Basilica (bellow) were beautifully and intelligently turned into modern museums that tell the story of ancient and medieval Plovdiv" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis and the Small Basilica (</em>bellow<em>) were beautifully and intelligently turned into modern museums that tell the story of ancient and medieval Plovdiv</em></p> <p>Between the late 4th century and the 7th century, the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis and the Small Basilica were two of the focal points of early Christian life in Plovdiv and the region. Both churches were lavishly decorated. The former, which is the largest early Christian church ever discovered in the Bulgarian lands, was particularly spectacular as it was the seat of the local bishop.</p> <p>Both churches were discovered in the 1980s. Despite the centuries of oblivion, their mosaics stunned. Still, the basilicas were again abandoned, and were left to run to seed.</p> <p>In the 2010s, first the Small Basilica and then the Bishop's Basilica were brought back to life as modern tourist sites. They were excavated and their mosaics were restored and returned to their original places. New, modern buildings were created over the ruins, to display them and to tell their past with traditional and digital storytelling to attract, entertain and educate Bulgarian and foreign visitors.</p> <p><img alt="small basilica plovdiv" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/rebuilding%20bulgaria%20past/small%20basilica.jpg" title="small basilica plovdiv" /></p> <p>The two basilicas in Plovdiv are now an outstanding example on how to make archaeological heritage attractive without sacrificing its authenticity.</p> <p>Importantly, both projects were not funded with EU money. Instead, their research, reconstruction and socialisation were sponsored by the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Plovdiv City Council. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-191-192" hreflang="en">Issue 191-192</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/301" hreflang="en">Archaeology Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/257" hreflang="en">Medieval Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/232" hreflang="en">Roman heritage</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3516&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="brVByn0uyO6A_2c8SW9FgfccfkVNySeKorX5ZhPxMwk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 27 Aug 2022 08:03:31 +0000 DimanaT 3516 at https://vagabond.bg SILENCED FAIR EN ROUTE TO STAMBOUL https://vagabond.bg/index.php/silenced-fair-en-route-stamboul-3514 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">SILENCED FAIR EN ROUTE TO STAMBOUL</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/251" lang="" about="/index.php/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 08/27/2022 - 10:52</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Uzundzhovo used to be centre of international trade, but no longer</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/index.php/sites/default/files/2022-08/uzundzhovo%20church%20mosque%20gate.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-08/uzundzhovo%20church%20mosque%20gate.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="uzundzhovo church mosque gate" title="uzundzhovo church mosque gate" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Notwithstanding online shopping, it is hard to imagine what the experience of purchasing goods from far and wide in a highly cosmopolitan society was like in pre-industrial times. A quiet village in southern Bulgaria offers some illumination.</p> <p>The cries of merchants selling splendid carpets from Persia and flamboyant fabrics from India, the aroma of the sacks of coffee and tea mingling with that of food wafting from the kitchens of the inns. The varied smells emanating from the press of humanity mixed with the livestock for sale, the rays of the autumn sun catching the expensive furs from Russia and the exquisite glass vases from Italy: all these exciting scenes used to take place during the Uzundzhovo trade fair when the vast Ottoman Empire still covered three continents.</p> <p>In its heyday, the international trade fair, which used to take place at Uzundzhovo each September, would run for 40 days and attract up to 50,000 people.</p> <p>It is hard to say how one of the biggest trade fairs in the Ottoman Empire kicked off, as historical data is scarce. According to the most popular theory, around the end of the 16th century Koca Sinan Pasha (1506-1596) arrived in the village of Uzundzhovo. The politician, military leader and statesman was granted the position of grand vizier five times during his turbulent career and was five times dismissed by two sultans at that, Murad III (1574-1595) and Mehmed III (1595-1603).</p> <p>Sinan Pasha decided that Uzundzhovo would be suitable as a trading centre as the village stood at the crossroads between Constantinople, Belgrade, the Aegean Sea and the Danube. The pasha knew that trade fairs and the people that visited them needed infrastructure, so he proceeded to build a large compound for merchants and travellers. This included a magnificent mosque with a stone dome and a marble fountain in the courtyard, a hamam, or bath house, an imaret, or soup kitchen, and a two-storey kervansaray, or roadside inn, with 350 rooms and stabling for 1,000 horses. A watchtower was added in the 17th century.</p> <p>Admittedly, Uzundzhovo was a quiet village on non-market days – nearly as quiet as it is today. Even the enthusiastic 17th century Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi, who described the kervansaray as "impressive", admitted: everyday Uzundzhovo was a village of "some hundred hovels, and lacked a water supply."</p> <p>The fair enjoyed its heyday at the beginning of the 19th century but declined rapidly some 50 years later. "Buyers seldom turned up. Trade was slack. Many merchants brought their goods back, having failed to make any bargains," the Bulgarian Tsarigradski Vestnik weekly reported in 1859. The authorities tried to stimulate trade by tightening security on the roads and abolishing some taxes, but their efforts were to no avail. In 1876 merchants and buyers gathered in Uzundzhovo for the last time.</p> <p><img alt="A stone inscription marks the location of the imaret, or soup kitchen, that used to feed hundreds of hungry merchants visiting Uzundzhovo each year" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/191-192/silenced%20ottoman%20fair/uzundzhovo%20church%20mosque.jpg" title="A stone inscription marks the location of the imaret, or soup kitchen, that used to feed hundreds of hungry merchants visiting Uzundzhovo each year" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A stone inscription marks the location of the </em>imaret<em>, or soup kitchen, that used to feed hundreds of hungry merchants visiting Uzundzhovo each year</em></p> <p>Modernisation tolled the death bell for the trade fair. The railway connections between Ruse on the Danube and Varna at the Black Sea (1866), and between Belovo and Lyubimets (1874) left Uzundzhovo out of the loop. The merchants who had once bought goods at the fair could now order as much as they wanted whenever they needed it directly from the producers, and receive the goods by train.</p> <p>Within decades the kervansaray, the hamam and the imaret disappeared from the face of Uzundzhovo. New streets and homes were built on the site. A single arch is all that remains of the huge kervansaray.</p> <p>The mosque survived too, but only because it was turned into a church.</p> <p>Muslims left Uzundzhovo after the 1885 unification of the independent Principality of Bulgaria and the autonomous Ottoman province of East Rumelia. The abandoned mosque was still in good condition, so when the old village church collapsed in the early 20th century, instead of constructing a new one, the local community chose the cheaper option, and moved the church into the mosque. Fortunately, proposals to pull down the mosque and use its stones to build a new church were scrapped.</p> <p>The Ottoman decorations and inscriptions were painted over and an altar was built from the stones of the demolished minaret.</p> <p>The church of the Assumption of Our Lady was consecrated in 1906. During renovations in 2007 the restoration revealed some of the decoration of the former mosque. Some can still be seen on the walls. Otherwise, modernisation meant painting new, "modern" murals depicting Orthodox saints and Biblical scenes. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine and realised by the Free Speech Foundation, with the generous support of the <a href="https://us4bg.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the FSI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates.</strong></p> <p><strong>Подкрепата за Фондация "Фрий спийч интернешънъл" е осигурена от Фондация "Америка за България". Изявленията и мненията, изразени тук, принадлежат единствено на ФСИ и не отразяват непременно вижданията на Фондация Америка за България или нейните партньори.</strong></p> <hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-191-192" hreflang="en">Issue 191-192</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/277" hreflang="en">Ottoman heritage</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3514&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="u1XijnwWm7aza_uGe8HY4H_2qYFWwh_YHTc5jV_-Uac"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 27 Aug 2022 07:52:53 +0000 DimanaT 3514 at https://vagabond.bg