Revival Period https://vagabond.bg/index.php/ en THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS https://vagabond.bg/index.php/devil-details-3387 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS</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">Wed, 04/27/2022 - 11:55</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3 lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Creatures of hell are most fascinating if somewhat menacing 'inhabitants' of Bulgarian churches</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/2022-04/bulgarian%20hell%207.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-04/bulgarian%20hell%207.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="An Orthodox Satan is about to devour a unrighteous man in the village of Teshovo, western Bulgaria" title="An Orthodox Satan is about to devour a unrighteous man in the village of Teshovo, western 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">An Orthodox Satan is about to devour a unrighteous man in the village of Teshovo, western Bulgaria</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Guidebooks boast about the beauty and artistic importance of the murals in Bulgaria's churches that date from the later centuries of Ottoman domination. Created by a society that was still deeply rooted in medieval tradition, but which was beginning to look towards and absorb Western European influences, this style of decoration sometimes charms but is sometimes hard to stomach. To the enthusiastic art lover, it embodies the search for new artistic means that defined the work of Bulgarian painters in the late 18th and 19th century. In this crucial period when Bulgarians were opening up to the broader world they created art that combined their desire to stay true to medieval conventions of depicting saints and Biblical scenes, while reflecting in a modern way the world around them, with its fashions, its social conflicts and changes. To the casual observer, the murals from this era can seem crude and even slightly infantile.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Whatever their view of Bulgarian Revival Period clerical art hardly anyone would not stop and ponder the didactic, and often hilarious, depictions of Judgement Day and Hell in churches.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="A chain gang of corrupt clergymen are led into the mouth of Hell by two devils in the village of Churilovo, western Bulgaria" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%206.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>A chain gang of corrupt clergymen are led into the mouth of Hell by two devils in the village of Churilovo, western Bulgaria</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">In keeping with sacred tradition, the Judgement Day story was depicted on the western walls of churches, to the right of the entrance. The left side was reserved for the less interesting images of Paradise.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">The treatment of the two scenes could not be more different. Paradise is static: a high-walled garden filled with the egg-like heads of the righteous. The only people who still preserve some individuality here are Old Testament patriarchs.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">In stark contrast, the inferno is (pun intended) a pandemonium of devils torturing sinners being herded towards a river of fire flowing into the gaping mouth of Hell. The chaos combines mediaeval tradition, naive artistic style, patriarchal mores, a hint of burgeoning national identity and a very special sense of humour.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Judgement Day at Bachkovo Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Judgement Day at Bachkovo Monastery</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Danger, darkness and sin have always intrigued humanity more than piety, possibly because taking the wrong path has always been easier. Artists were aware of this and while they painted the pious with a boring sameness as a compact group, they spared no time, effort or imagination when it came to the frescoes on the right-hand side. Each person there counts, if not for their individuality, then for their individual sins.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Here they are, dozens of the damned humans being led into Hell or already being punished for their misdeeds: the murderers and the adulterers, the thieves, the covetous and the misers, the liars and the corrupt judges dying in the webs that they spin, along with the drunkards and the unbaptised, demonstrating to worshippers the types of behaviour not tolerated in Heaven and thus defining the moral standards of the community. To enhance their popular appeal, Revival Period painters covered a broad spectrum of sins. As a result, the murals can be interpreted as a satirical view of Bulgarian life and are rich in charming and informative details from the type of clothes to the type of sins in fashion at the time.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Death and Hell take their toll, Monastery of the Transfiguration near Veliko Tarnovo" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%202.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Death and Hell take their toll, Monastery of the Transfiguration near Veliko Tarnovo</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Look closely at the figures of the people bound for Hell, and you will see the arrogant higher clergy in their expensive robes, guilty of ignoring the lesser folk, and the exquisite dresses of the rich city women damned for their vanity, adultery and love of cosmetics. As this period saw the emergence of a new Bulgarian national identity, Hell was also open for the special sort of sinners who, according to the inscriptions above their heads, "betrayed their nation." Sheep stealers, cheating millers, publicans who adulterate their wine with water, dishonest shopkeepers, along with those who do not bother to wake up early to go to work or to Sunday mass: all have places reserved for them in the inferno, where they are punished according to their misdeeds. Millstones and lambs hang from the necks of crooked millers and sheep rustlers, while oversleepers lie on beds of red-hot iron. Ouch.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Death and the sinner, Troyan Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%209.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Death and the sinner, Troyan Monastery</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">In spite of their naivety and crudeness, or precisely because of them, the 19th century sinners continue to engage modern viewers. No one knows what the average Revival Period churchgoer thought of them but today they appear amusing or crudely comic. The only exception is, of course, Satan: an ominous, muscular figure embracing a bunch of damned souls.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Devils in Bulgarian Revival Period churches escape from the confines of Last Judgement murals. You can find them all over the place, for example in the moralising scenes of desperately ill people seeking help from clairvoyants. The Church did not approve of the (usually female) healers, and so their deeds were denounced with strong artistic language: in the murals these well-dressed women take advantage of the sick and poor as they "cure" them by feeding them with... demon faeces.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Witches and adulteresses being consigned to Hell, Rila Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%205.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Witches and adulteresses being consigned to Hell, Rila Monastery</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">Demons feature heavily in the scenes of a popular cycle of frescoes dedicated to the wanderings of a dead man's soul in the 40 days after his death. During this period the soul, guided by an angel, has to endure a number of temptations and to witness the punishments for various sins, represented by demons in a range of colours, shapes and with various other attributes.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">While devils seem to be having a generally good time in Revival Period churches (including dancing a joyous horo while clairvoyants go about their business), they look truly pitiful in the depictions of St Marina, who is venerated as a capable opponent of evil creatures and is often depicted as beating the hell out of a demon (pun intended) with... a mallet.</p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Rivers of blood and the dead rising from their graves at Kapinovski Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%204.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Rivers of blood and the dead rising from their graves at Kapinovski Monastery</em></p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG">There is hardly a Revival Period church in Bulgaria that does not display at least one Last Judgement scene with its collection of sinners and devils. The most outstanding devil scenes were painted by Zahariy Zograf, the leading artist in Bulgaria at the time, in the main church of Rila Monastery, and at Preobrazhenski Monastery near Veliko Tarnovo. While Zograf's frescoes are refined and professional, the cruder creations of ordinary village painters in lesser known churches, especially in western Bulgaria, can be a true delight. Searching them out in some obscure place can turn into a rewarding exploration of times past, when damnation could be the result both of a major sin like murder, and something as dangerous to the community and the soul as having a lie-in. </p> <p lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><img alt="Witches feed a man with devil's faeces" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/187/devil%20in%20the%20details/bulgarian%20hell%203.jpg" title="" /></p> <p class="text-align-center" lang="en-SG" xml:lang="en-SG"><em>Witches feed a man with devil's faeces</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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-187" hreflang="en">Issue 187</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/220" hreflang="en">Bulgarian art</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=3387&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="qG4r6EEDES6BsF8lW1bXIo2BynEYZtMKuPZAm-wrLrQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 27 Apr 2022 08:55:28 +0000 DimanaT 3387 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/devil-details-3387#comments BULGARIA'S CLOCKTOWERS https://vagabond.bg/index.php/bulgarias-clocktowers-3310 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BULGARIA&#039;S CLOCKTOWERS</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">Fri, 02/25/2022 - 12:25</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Before wristwatches and smartphones public clocks chimed time away</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/2022-02/tryavna.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-02/tryavna.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="tryavna" title="tryavna&#039;s clocktower" 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">Tryavna&#039;s clocktower</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Today, knowing what time it is becomes a problem only if the battery of your smart phone is dead and there is no one around to ask. For previous generations, it was different. For millennia, people measured their days and nights by the movement of the sun and stars, or waited for a rooster to crow.</p> <p>The first contraptions used to measure time date back to Antiquity, but gained momentum in the late Middle Ages when the clockwork mechanism was invented. The growing urban population and increased economic activity needed a better way to divide day and night into time for work and time for recreation.</p> <p>Clocktowers soon became ubiquitous all over Europe. Tall and impressive, they were visible from afar and announced the passage of time to the local population.</p> <p>In those days, Bulgarians lived under Ottoman rule, and the first clocktowers appeared in their lands somewhat late, probably at the turn of the 16th-17th centuries. By the end of the 18th century and particularly in the 19th century the construction of clocktowers all over Bulgaria had become routine. Their appearance reflected the increased activity of Bulgarians busy in their shops and workshops, in industries vital to the Ottoman markets. These towers, usually equipped with bells, were also used to announce major events in local life, such as a fire or an attack.</p> <p>The architecture of the clocktowers changed over time. The earliest look more like fortifications, with strong stone walls and tiny window openings – for a reason. The second half of the 18th century was a time of bandit raids, so clocktowers were used as a place of refuge by the local population. The towers from the 19th century were more elegant, reflecting the increased European influence over art, architecture, lifestyle and politics in Bulgarian lands.</p> <p>After the liberation in 1878, clocktowers in Bulgaria changed in accordance with the new European fashion. Older clocktowers were upgraded with new mechanisms and dials. The construction of standalone towers was replaced by structures incorporated into the new public buildings.</p> <p>In Bulgaria the decline of clocktowers of all types occurred in the 1970s and the 1980s, when a number of towns saw their old centres – houses, streets, clocktowers and all – demolished during a mass attempt to impose Socialist urbanism.</p> <p>Today, most of the surviving clocktowers in Bulgaria are in smaller cities and towns, a sad reminder of the times when they used to mark the hours for thriving communities busy in trade and manufacture.</p> <h4>Berkovitsa</h4> <p><img alt="berkovitsa clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/berkovitsa.jpg" title="berkovitsa clocktower" /></p> <p>Today Berkovitsa is but a sleepy backwater in Bulgaria's northwest, the most economically depressed region in the EU. Its clocktower is one of the few reminders that this was not always so. Built in 1764, it had a clockwork mechanism brought from faraway Bessarabia, near the Dniester River. The tower is 21m high and has the fortress-like appearance typical of the period.</p> <h4>Burgas Railway Station</h4> <p><img alt="burgas railway station" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/burgas.jpg" title="burgas railway station" /></p> <p>Clocks have always been and always will be an important part of any railway station. The railway station in Burgas boasts one of the most beautiful examples in Bulgaria. The station was built in 1903, and was a great achievement for the time: modern and spacious, in the best European fashion of the day. The design was so successful that it was copied for the railway station in Varna.</p> <h4>Byala</h4> <p><img alt="Byala clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/byala.jpg" title="Byala clocktower" /></p> <p>The clocktower in Byala, yet another quiet town in northern Bulgaria, was built in 1872. Initially, it was a church belfry and received its first clockwork mechanism in 1906. It was a Made-in-Switzerland piece of machinery, donated by a former finance minister. The clock is still working, although the tower itself has undergone some changes. In 1952, the cross that used to stand on top was replaced with a Communist five-pointed star. For some reason, in 1960 the star was replaced with an amphora-shaped figurine, which remains there to this day.</p> <p><strong>Gabrovo</strong></p> <p><img alt="Gabrovo clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/gabrovo.jpg" title="Gabrovo clocktower" /></p> <p>This Stara Planina mountains town became an industrial centre in the 18th century, which prompted the construction of a clocktower. That structure was lost in 1798, when it was burned to the ground during a bandit raid. Its replacement, constructed in 1811, was also lost eventually.</p> <p>The clocktower that you see today in central Gabrovo was built in 1835, with pro bono labour given by the citizens and donations from the local craft guilds. It is 27.7m high and a fine example of the typical clocktower of its days: a fortress-like lower part and an elegant tower rising above the commotion of the market streets around. Its bell is older, made in 1792 in Vienna and had an inscription in German. Initially, time was measured with the ringing of the bell, but in 1882 a proper clock-face was installed.</p> <p>Of the two water fountains that used to flow at the base of the tower, only one survives today. Another survivor from the past is an old Ottoman inscription, built into the wall, that recalls the construction of the 1811 clocktower.</p> <p>The tower was restored in the 1960s, and the clockwork mechanism in the 1980s, but today it no longer works properly.</p> <h4>Plovdiv</h4> <p><img alt="Plovdiv clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/plovdiv.jpg" title="Plovdiv clocktower" /></p> <p>The year when the first clocktower was built in the Bulgarian lands is lost to history, but it happened some time in the second half of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th centuries in Plovdiv, a multicultural city of lively trade and commerce. Constructed atop one of the city's hills, the clocktower was such a novelty that it stuck in the local imagination.</p> <p>Even today, it remains firmly embedded in Plovdiv's topography. The hill is still called Sahat Tepe, or Clock Hill, although for some time its official name has been Danov's Hill.</p> <p>The clocktower now atop Clock Hill, however, is not that famous structure. The original, which was built of wood, burned down at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1809, it was replaced with the current one, at 17.5m high, and its mechanism was made in Vienna and installed in 1883.</p> <h4>Razgrad</h4> <p><img alt="Razgrad clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/razgrad.jpg" title="Razgrad clocktower" /></p> <p>The clocktower in central Razgrad is the 1864 incarnation of an older clocktower from the 18th century. It is about 26m high, and its bell was imported from Hungary in 1731. The original clockwork mechanism is in the city museum, after it was replaced with a new one in the 1970s. Curiously and rather unusually, Razgrad used to have a second clocktower. It has not survived.</p> <p><strong>Sevlievo</strong></p> <p><img alt="Sevlievo clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/sevlievo.jpg" title="Sevlievo clocktower" /></p> <p>Whether it was built in 1775, 1777 or 1779 is a question historians disagree on, but one thing is certain: Sevlievo's clocktower is one of the oldest preserved in Bulgaria. Today it is one of the few historical landmarks left in the town.</p> <h4>Shumen</h4> <p><img alt="Shumen clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/shumen.jpg" title="Shumen clocktower" /></p> <p>The clocktower in Shumen was built in the 1740s, at the same time as the most prominent Ottoman structure in the town, the beautiful Tombul Mosque. It is 18m high and used to announce the time with two bells that rang every 15 minutes. There is a richly decorated water fountain at the base, along with an elaborate Ottoman inscription relating to the construction of the tower. There used to be a mosque nearby, known as Sahat Mosque after the clocktower, but it does not exist anymore.</p> <h4>Svishtov</h4> <p><img alt="Svishtov clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/svishtov.jpg" title="Svishtov clocktower" /></p> <p>You do not need to read the building inscription, which tells that Svishtov's tower was built in 1763, to guess its age. Its fortress-like architecture says it all. The mechanism still works, although it is not as old as the tower. It is a 1890 replacement, made in Austria.</p> <h4>Tryavna</h4> <p><img alt="Inside Tryavna's clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/tryavna%20clocktower.jpg" title="Inside Tryavna's clocktower" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Inside Tryavna's clocktower</em></p> <p>Tryavna's clocktower is perhaps the most recognisable in Bulgaria, and for a reason. It is the only one that still stands in its original urban environment. Tryavna was lucky to escape the large-scale demolition of old city centres in the 1970s and the 1980s, and preserves its 19th century core almost intact. As the tallest building there, the 21m clocktower has been the natural focus of life and a source of local pride ever since its construction in 1812. The clockwork mechanism has been working ever since it was installed in 1815, and is maintained with enthusiasm by the current keeper, a local pensioner. He is also responsible for the tower's other peculiarity: the only Foucault's Pendulum in Bulgaria is to be found there.</p> <h4>Zlatitsa</h4> <p><img alt="Zlatitsa clocktower" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/bulgaria%20clocktowers/zlatitsa.jpg" title="Zlatitsa clocktower" /></p> <p>Rising to almost 18m, Zlatitsa's clocktower appeared in 1777, when the town prospered through trade and manufacture. The clock still works, although the mechanism is not the original one but a 1922 replica made by a local enthusiast, who also sponsored the restoration of the tower. </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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-185" hreflang="en">Issue 185</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/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=3310&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="zep3g-zQ3ej4al9274Hj2D12cZ_tPtxdrqd4haAu-rs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 25 Feb 2022 10:25:06 +0000 DimanaT 3310 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/bulgarias-clocktowers-3310#comments WINTER IN RILA MONASTERY https://vagabond.bg/index.php/winter-rila-monastery-3308 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WINTER IN RILA MONASTERY</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">Fri, 02/25/2022 - 12:06</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Popular tourist site becomes fairytale when enveloped in snow</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/2022-02/rila%20monatery%20from%20the%20air.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-02/rila%20monatery%20from%20the%20air.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="rila monatery from the air" title="rila monatery from the air" 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>As the largest and most famous monastery in Bulgaria, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rila Monastery can appear a little overwhelming if you visit in high season or during major Christian festivals. The crowds that gather in the picturesque yard, with its toy-like painted church and the striped arches of the galleries, can obliterate any feeling of holiness, or the tranquility that is usually associated with a monastic institution of such fame.</p> <p>Visit Rila Monastery in winter, however, and you will be in for a completely different experience. The crowds of visitors are no more than a trickle, and the snow on the roofs and the nearby mountains transforms the compound into what could be the setting for a fairy story with a slightly ominous tinge. The fortress-like appearance of the outer walls, the cosy wooden-beamed balconies and the colourful, gleaming church, with the mystic slopes of the Rila mountains rising in the background, invite you to extend your stay as long as possible.</p> <p>You can actually do this. The monastery offers good, cheap accommodation on site, which allows you to immerse yourself in its atmosphere as no ordinary tourist could: with the chime of the bells measuring time and the procession of black-clad monks heading to church.</p> <p><img alt="RIla Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/rila%20monastery%20night.jpg" title="RIla Monastery" /></p> <p>You will also have time to learn more about this fascinating place.</p> <p>For centuries Rila Monastery has been a treasure trove. Its mighty walls were built to protect its riches, and medieval Bulgarian kings and wealthy Bulgarians made lavish donations. The main church, Nativity of the Mother of God, was painted by the best artists of the 19th century.</p> <p>Ironically, this place that has accumulated such earthly possessions was founded by a man who had absolutely no desire for strong walls, a treasury or the attention of the powerful.</p> <p>St Ivan of Rila, who founded the holy abode, became its patron saint, and with time was accepted as the hallowed protector of all Bulgarians. He lived in the 9th-10th centuries, a fateful time. Bulgaria was then a mighty state, famous and feared as a result of the imperial and cultural policies of King Simeon the Great, but his constant wars had exhausted the country. When he was succeeded by his heir, King Petar, Bulgaria slid downhill. The poor became poorer, the rich got richer and the elite increasingly copied the lavish lifestyle of the archenemy, Byzantium.</p> <p><img alt="RIla Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/rila%20monastery%20air.jpg" title="RIla Monastery" /></p> <p>The disappointment and dissatisfaction of ordinary Bulgarians were channelled into two spiritual movements, both of which cherished frugality and piety, and despised vanity and earthly possessions. They were, however, radically different from each other. The Bogomils were a dualistic sect that believed all earthly power, civil and religious, came from the Devil, and the only way to avoid damnation was to abandon traditional society and live in poverty in simple communities. The ascetic movement did not object to the social order: its adherents just chose to live in solitude in some deserted place, alone with their prayers. This explains why, when both state and Church persecuted the Bogomils as heretics, the hermits were not only left alone but were venerated as spiritual leaders.</p> <p>Ivan of Rila was one such man. Born a humble villager, he led an ordinary life until his parents died, when he was 25 years old. Ivan then gave up all his property and became a monk, eventually ending up alone in the high and deserted Rila mountains. The fame of his piety grew and spread far and wide, and even King Petar visited him. Ivan of Rila would not agree to meet the king and only showed himself from a distance. Of all the lavish presents that Petar had brought, he accepted only some fruit, refusing the gold.</p> <p><img alt="RIla Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/rila%20monastery%20fresco.jpg" title="RIla Monastery" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Adam and Eve as seen by a 19th century Bulgarian icon painter</em></p> <p>Even in the 10th century living a simple life far from crowds was not easy. Before long the hermit found himself amid a growing community of followers, and was forced to seek solitude farther up the mountain. There he died, supposedly in 946, at the age of 70. Today a small chapel marks the place where he lived. The monastic community that sprang up around his initial place of habitation became Rila Monastery.</p> <p>The hermit was canonised soon after his death, and in the following centuries his supposedly miraculous remains travelled around Bulgaria. In the 1180s they were notoriously stolen during a Hungarian raid and brought to what would later become Budapest. Subsequently, the bones ended up in Tarnovo and were only returned to their rightful home, with much pomp and ceremony, as late as 1469. They are now in the monastery's main church, exhibited for veneration in an elaborate wooden reliquary that is opened only on high days.</p> <p><img alt="Rila Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/rila%20monastery%20mass.jpg" title="Rila Monastery" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Rila Monastery monks led by their abbot perform vespers</em></p> <p>Ivan of Rila is said to have subsisted on a diet of herbs and potions to embalm himself while he was still alive. Some stories depict him as notoriously bad-tempered. He would curse whole villages for refusing to give him food or shelter, and was responsible for the death of his young nephew. The boy had decided to become a monk and joined Ivan. When the angry father reclaimed his son, Ivan of Rila asked god to save the young boy from the woes of earthly life. The nephew never reached home, as he was bitten by a snake and died on the way back.</p> <p>The veneration of St Ivan of Rila passed down through the centuries, attracting a never-ending stream of donations to Rila, until it grew to be the largest monastic foundation in Bulgaria.</p> <p>The earliest surviving building is Hrelyu's Tower, a defensive structure with its own small chapel, built in 1335 by a local lord to provide shelter for the monks. The 23-metre-high tower proved useful during a number of bandit raids when Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule. In more peaceful times it was used as a prison, and as an isolation ward for sick or deranged monks. For the modern visitor the most alluring feature of Hrelyu's Tower is the medieval murals in the 5th floor chapel. The two-storey belfry adjacent to the façade dates from the 19th century.</p> <p>The rest of the monastery may have been impressive and beautiful, but it was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1778. Restoration took several decades, during which time, in 1833, a section of the new building was lost to another fire.</p> <p>It was during the 1830s-1850s that the strong walls which now protect the monastery and the living quarters appeared, soon to be complemented by the striped galleries and the exquisite main church covered both inside and out with frescoes shining blue, green, red and yellow. Its architecture is a major deviation from the prevalent Bulgarian Revival Period style of the day. Built on the site of an older, medieval basilica, it copied the style of churches on Mount Athos, with a cross-shaped nave, five domes and a colonnaded outside gallery instead of a narthex.</p> <p><img alt="james bourchier grave" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/james%20bourchier%20grave.jpg" title="james bourchier grave" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Resting place of famous Irish journalist James Bourchier (1850-1920). Bourchier spent many years in Bulgaria and chose to be buried near Rila Monastery</em></p> <p>The Rila Monastery library preserves books and manuscripts from the 11th-19th centuries, including the precious Rila Charter, issued by King Ivan Shishman in 1378, which still bears his gold seal. The document specifies the properties of the monastery and how it should be run, making it an important historical source about life in the 14th century.</p> <p>A more sinister story can be found inside the church. In the misty light of one of the side aisles, a simple cross marks the resting place of King Boris III (1918-1943). Bulgaria's last ruling monarch died soon after he returned from a meeting with Hitler in Germany. He was buried at Rila Monastery, but his remains did not stay there for long. Fearing his grave might become a place of pilgrimage, the Communists exhumed his corpse in 1946, and reburied it several times in different places. What actually happened to the king's remains in the end is a matter of continuing speculation, but after the collapse of Communism, in 1989, only his embalmed heart could be found. It was reburied at Rila Monastery in 1993.</p> <p>Another man of prominence in Bulgarian history was buried close to the monastery. James Bourchier (1850-1920), the Irish journalist who covered Bulgaria's tumultuous history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, chose to remain in Bulgaria even in death.</p> <p><img alt="Rila Monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/185/rila%20monastery%20in%20winter/rila%20monatery%20church.jpg" title="Rila Monastery" /></p> <p>The cultural and historical significance of Rila Monastery ensured that even under Communism it continued to be viewed with respect. It was maintained and treated as a place to take visitors on bus tours, as described by John Updike, who visited in 1964.</p> <p>In 1961, Rila Monastery was declared a state museum; religious activity declined, and the monastic community shrank to just a few dozen.</p> <p>In 1976, the whole area was declared a national historical reserve, and the Monastery was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.</p> <p>There are several churches and other religious sites around Rila Monastery. The Presentation of the Virgin Mary Church in the monastic cemetery has 19th century murals and an ossuary. Three miles beyond the monastery stands the Old Fasting House, supposedly the original place where St Ivan of Rila was buried. In 1820, a church, The Dormition of St Ivan of Rila, was erected on the site. A new fasting house marks the burial place of the saint's nephew. Two churches stand there: the 18th century St Luke's possessed such a fine iconostasis that it was taken away and can now be seen in the National History Museum, while the church of the Intercession of the Mother of God dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. On the way to the Old Fasting House there is a newer church, St Theodosius of Tarnovo. Building started in 1956, but ground to a halt under the Communist government and it remains uncompleted. </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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-185" hreflang="en">Issue 185</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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=3308&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="z2dQk91qreaFK7HRVgAcKYsjiZWOZch1NfeBKVg0C4Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 25 Feb 2022 10:06:45 +0000 DimanaT 3308 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/winter-rila-monastery-3308#comments WHO WAS FATHER PAISIY? https://vagabond.bg/index.php/who-was-father-paisiy-3232 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHO WAS FATHER PAISIY?</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, 11/30/2021 - 13:41</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>A book by a monk defines whole epoch of Bulgarian 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/2021-11/bansko%20centre.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2021-11/bansko%20centre.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="Monument to Father Paisiy in the centre of Bansko, his supposed birthplace" title="Monument to Father Paisiy in the centre of Bansko, his supposed birthplace" 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 Father Paisiy in the centre of Bansko, his supposed birthplace</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The Revival Period. Any visitor who has been to Bulgaria for more than a couple of days for business and/or pleasure has heard this combination of words, but what does it mean? It is the name of a singular, and highly idealised, period in Bulgarian history.</p> <p>It covers the late 18th and much of the 19th centuries. That was the time when, after over four centuries of Ottoman domination, the Bulgarians emancipated themselves, and also defined themselves as a separate nation from the rest of the Sultan's subjects. They had spent the previous four hundred years in a feudal society, isolated from the changes, progress and turmoil that had swept over the rest of Europe. They lived quietly, subsisting on small-time farming, animal husbandry and handicraft. They had preserved their own language and folklore culture, but besides their priests and the odd wealthy merchant they had basically no economic, cultural or political elite. They identified as Eastern Orthodox Christians subservient to the Greek-dominated Constantinople Patriarchate (there were Bulgarian Muslims, too, but the two communities kept themselves separated).</p> <p>In a way, for about four centuries Bulgarians lived in a bubble.</p> <p><img alt="A modern painting of the 18th century monk depicts him busy writing his famed book" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/paisiy%20painting.jpg" title="A modern painting of the 18th century monk depicts him busy writing his famed book" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A modern painting of the 18th century monk depicts him busy writing his famed book</em></p> <p>The Revival Period was the time when they broke free from. The most entrepreneurial became merchants and traders. They travelled and conducted business both within and outside the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. The younger generation discovered nationalism. Some eagerly embraced it. Realising that they were different from the other subjects of the Sultan, Bulgarians began to build schools, open community centres, and demand their own church where their language would be used. They began to print newspapers and books in Bulgarian, and became interested in international politics, although mainly as onlookers. The most hotheaded of them even plotted rebellion against the Ottomans. The dream of the revival of the Bulgarian state was born, and this eventually came to pass, in 1878.</p> <p>The physical expression of this vibrant and turbulent time were the beautiful houses you see today in places such as Plovdiv, Koprivshtitsa and Kovachevitsa. The national dress and traditional music you see and hear in tourist advertisements and traditional restaurants also took shape during the Revival Period, although the brightest individuals of the time actually aspired towards a European lifestyle and fashion.</p> <p>In short, for modern Bulgarians, what happened (or what they believe happened) in the Revival Period defines to a significant extent the very essence of Bulgarian-ness.</p> <p>How did this crucial period in Bulgarian national history start?</p> <p><img alt="The first page of the original manuscript of Slav-Bulgarian History" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/history%20of%20slav%20bulgarians.jpg" title="The first page of the original manuscript of Slav-Bulgarian History" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The first page of the original manuscript of Slav-Bulgarian History</em></p> <p>It is hard to put a finger on a particular event or individual who started it all. It was a long process affected by many factors: the contemporary mood in Europe and the birth of nationalism in general, the decline of the Ottoman Empire and Russia's meddling in the region. However, there is one man whose work is now widely accepted to be the symbolic beginning of the Bulgarian national Revival Period.</p> <p>Otets Paisiy Hilendarski, or Father Paisiy of Chilandar, was a monk in one of the monasteries at Mount Athos. Chilandar was controlled by Serbs, but many of its monks were actually of Bulgarian origin, including Paisiy and his elder brother, who was the abbot.</p> <p>Father Paisiy started writing his book while in Chilandar but an internal conflict between the monks forced him to move to another monastery on Mount Athos, the Bulgarian-controlled Zografou. There, in 1762, he finished what he called "a small history."</p> <p>Its original title, in line with the 18th century fashion, was lengthy: <em>Slav-Bulgarian History. On the Bulgarian People, Kings and Saints, and All Bulgarian Deeds and Events, Gathered and Composed by Hieromonk Paisiy, Who Lived in the Holy Mount Athos and Who Arrived There From the Samokov Eparchy in 1745, and Who Collected This History in 1762 for the Benefit of the Bulgarian People</em>.</p> <p>Written in the vernacular of the time, <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em>, as the book is now known, gathered on its pages the story of the rise and the might of medieval Bulgaria. It introduced the reader to the nation's glorious but forgotten past.</p> <p><img alt="chilandar monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/chilandar%20monastery.jpg" title="chilandar monastery" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The medieval environment that gave birth to Bulgaria's modernity: Father Paisiy began writing the book of his life in Chilandar Monastery at Mount Athos</em></p> <p>Yet it was more than just a history book. Its spirited rhetoric was a wake-up call to the whole nation. Bulgaria had not always been a nation of humble shepherds and ploughmen, Paisiy reminded his readers with a burning passion. The Bulgarians used to have their own kings and a kingdom. They used to win battles against the Greeks and the Serbs, who were now claiming to be more civilised than the Bulgarians. Those Bulgarians who shunned their Bulgarian identity in order to adopt a supposedly more prestigious Greek one were fools, Paisiy maintained. Bulgarians used to be great and they could become great again, was the not very subtle message of the book.</p> <p>The Bulgarians only needed to get rid of the Greeks, who controlled the church, and the Ottomans, who controlled the government, Paisiy implied.</p> <p>However, the Bulgarians needed some time to take those small steps. First, the <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em> had to reach its audience.</p> <p>In 1762, printed books were still a rarity in the Ottoman lands. Manuscripts were the norm. Ironically, the book that propelled Bulgarians into modernity was distributed one hand-copied volume at a time. The first of these was made as late as 1765, and the next one even later, in 1771. An edited version was printed for the first time in 1844. Tellingly, this happened in Hungary rather than in the Ottoman Empire where printing presses were still not common.</p> <p><img alt="zografou monastery" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/zografou%20monastery%20bells.jpg" title="zografou monastery" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The book is kept at Zografou monastery</em></p> <p>Once it had served its purpose – to make Bulgarians aware of their own identity and their past, the <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em> slipped into oblivion, overshadowed by newer, more modern and more accurate history books.</p> <p>Its author was also forgotten. Caught between medieval anonymity and the emphasis on the individual that modernity entailed, Father Paisiy remained an enigma. The few details of his life, his research and his motivation that we know about were mostly provided by himself, in his "simple story." In doing this, he breached medieval tradition which stipulated that writers, painters, and builders should remain nameless and faceless.</p> <p>Father Paisiy was born in 1722, and his birth name was either Petar or Penko. The Samokov Eparchy covered a large portion of the Western Balkans, but there is some evidence that he was born in Bansko. Both his father and one of his brothers were wealthy merchants in that town.</p> <p>We will never know how young Paisiy became interested in Bulgarian history, nor what motivated him to dedicate his life to recording and popularising it. While he may at times have presented himself as a humble, almost semiliterate man, in keeping with the medieval tradition, his book disproves this notion. In 1758, he went to Sremski Karlovci, a Serbian town in the Vojvodina region that was then under Austrian control. Officially, he was there to collect donations for the Chilandar Monastery, but as he admits in his book, he spent most of the time looking for sources of Bulgarian history. These included two accounts written by a Venetian cardinal and an abbot from Dubrovnik. When he moved to Zografou, he immersed himself in its library and used its rich collection of medieval royal documents and stories about the lives of Bulgarian saints to complete his story. The extent and diversity of his sources clearly show that Father Paisiy was anything but semiliterate.</p> <p><img alt="Zografou monastery library" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/zographou%20monastery%20library.jpg" title="Zografou monastery library" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The abbot of Zografou monastery shows a facsimile copy of Slav-Bulgarian History. After the original manuscript was stolen from the monastery, and returned years later, only a selected few are allowed to touch the original</em></p> <p>Father Paisiy achieved all of this while suffering, in his own words, from intestinal ailments and recurring headaches. After he finished writing the <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em>, he left Mount Athos again and returned to the Bulgarian lands. Under the pretext of collecting donations, he began to introduce his book and his ideas to anyone who could read and was eager to listen.</p> <p>He supposedly died in 1773, probably in Stanimaka, today's Asenovgrad.</p> <p>Paisiy's achievement and his role in promoting the Bulgarian national Revival Period were recognised only after this epoch in Bulgarian history ended. By the late 19th century, he had been introduced into the pantheon of national heroes. The popular poet Ivan Vazov helped in this, by cementing into the national consciousness the cliché that still persists about Paisiy – "a monk dark, anonymous and pale," who wrote in a dimly-lit cell and was conscious of the importance of his task: "from now on the Bulgarian people has its own history and becomes a nation."</p> <p>In 1962, the bicentenary of <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em>, the Bulgarian Church sanctified Father Paisiy. His name is found all over the country: in streets, schools, libraries and a university. The national order of achievements in culture is named after him, too. Bulgarian students are obliged to study his book in literature classes, though most struggle to comprehend it. What was once a vivid text written in the vernacular is now difficult to understand, even in the modernised version published in 1914.</p> <p><img alt="Zografou monastery murals" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/zografou%20monastery%20murals.jpg" title="Zografou monastery murals" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Murals at Zografou monastery</em></p> <p>Sadly and inevitably, there is now a darker side to Otets Paisiy's public image. Nationalists have appropriated his name and his ideas to promote xenophobia and, ironically, a fear of anything new, especially if it comes from Western Europe. In the interwar period, a fascist youth organisation took the name Otets Paisiy. Nowadays, nationalists quote his famous "Oh, ignorant one, why are you ashamed to call yourself a Bulgarian?" when they decide that Bulgarian-ness is under threat from some EU regulation, the Covid-19 vaccination, immigration, gender equality, legislation against domestic or child abuse, or even Bulgarian children getting interested in Halloween.</p> <p>The strangest event in which the long-dead Father Paisiy became embroiled took place in the 1980s and the 1990s. In 1984, the Bulgarian Communist State Security stole the original draft of <em>Slav-Bulgarian History</em> from the library of Zografou monastery, and replaced it with a copy. What happened to the original in the following years is not clear, but in the late 1990s it somehow ended up on the desk of the then director of the National History Museum. The nation was mesmerised, and huge queues of people wanting to see the book formed in front of the museum. There were calls to never return it to "the Greeks" of Mount Athos and many saw as an act of treason the decision of the then president of Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov, to return the book to the monastery in 1998.</p> <p><img alt="Zografou monastery entrance" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/182/birth%20of%20bulgarian%20nation/zografou%20monastery%20entrance.jpg" title="Zografou monastery entrance" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The entrance of Zografou monastery</em></p> <p>Today the precious book is again kept in Zografou's library. For security reasons, it is not on general view, and just as in the times when it was written it is now again only for the eyes of a select few.</p> <p>A recurrent enigma, the figure of Father Paisiy embodies both the good and the bad of Bulgarian nationalism, but his legacy remains. After all, this monk from a faraway monastery always saw history and its consequences as a long-term project. </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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-182" hreflang="en">Issue 182</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/304" hreflang="en">Prehistory Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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=3232&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="tWUhMwc-PQIstq4RtoAIHHcyJBBhijtaGRKBC-jZckw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 30 Nov 2021 11:41:37 +0000 DimanaT 3232 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/who-was-father-paisiy-3232#comments BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF NESEBAR https://vagabond.bg/index.php/birds-eye-view-nesebar-3158 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BIRD&#039;S EYE VIEW OF NESEBAR</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">Thu, 08/26/2021 - 15:30</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Flying over UNESCO-heritage site on Black Sea is must-do, at least virtually</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/2021-08/nesebar%20from%20air%20night.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2021-08/nesebar%20from%20air%20night.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="nesebar from air night" title="nesebar from air night" 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>Looking for some peace and quiet on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in summer is a natural aspiration, even in a year of pandemic and reduced international tourism like 2021. But there are places by the sea where peace and quiet in summer are not to be found. Even in a "slow" tourist summer, they are abuzz with local and foreign visitors; lively and vibrant, sometimes vulgar and often irritating.</p> <p>Nesebar is one of those places.</p> <p>The UNESCO-listed town has an unbeatable combination of attractions for modern tourists. It is spectacularly located on a rocky promontory on the northern edges of Burgas Bay. Ornate medieval churches with decorative red-and-white facades mingle with spacious 18th and 19th century wooden houses. And then, there is the sea. North of Nesebar stretches Bulgaria's longest beach – the 8-kilometre strip of golden sand now mostly occupied by the concrete excrescences of the Sunny Beach resort. South of Old Nesebar there are some other locations, though much overbuilt, to unfold your beach towel.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="nesebar medieval church" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/birds%20eye%20view%20of%20nesebar/nesebar%20from%20air%20medieval%20church.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Christ Almighty is one of Nesebar's most famed churches. Built in the 13th-14th centuries, it is a fine example of the late-medieval Byzantine architecture that favoured richly ornate façades</em></p> <p>Nesebar became a summer crowd puller in the 1960s, when Communist Bulgaria created Sunny Beach. It had to cater to international tourists from the East bloc and also some West Europeans paying in hard currency, which was in high demand in the planned economy of Comecon. Bulgarians loved it, but as few of them could afford the new, flashy hotels at Sunny Beach, they opted for renting cheap rooms in Old Nesebar and around.</p> <p>Nesebar's popularity grew steadily, and boomed in the 2000s, when uncontrolled construction of even bigger, flashier hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs took over in the now privatised Sunny Beach. The residents of Old Nesebar were quick to ride the wave of private initiative, free market and free travel. They added new rooms to their century-old houses and put up stalls to sell kitschy Made-in-China souvenirs and beach "essentials" at any available place.</p> <p>The mayhem reached such an intensity that in 2012 UNESCO threatened to remove Nesebar from its famous World Heritage list. After some altercations between the authorities demolishing illegal construction in Old Nesebar and enraged locals, business on and around the promontory continued as usual.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="nesebar late antiquity church" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/birds%20eye%20view%20of%20nesebar/nesebar%20from%20air%20old%20bishopric.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Old Bishopric used to be the town's cathedral, now it is engulfed in later buildings and souvenir stalls</em></p> <p>So why visit Nesebar, especially in summer, a reader might ask themselves. Truth be told, crowds, business, trade and Nesebar have been inseparable since the town appeared on the promontory some millennia ago. Being quiet and museum-like is not in Nesebar's fabric; it is an aberration, a quirk. Nesebar was established by people who sought a quick profit, and it was continuously inhabited by their equally entrepreneurial descendants, who wisely used Nesebar's strategic location on the Black Sea coast to control trade and military routes. They built the beautiful churches and the houses, which now define Nesebar's townscape, mainly as a flashy status symbol of their wealth and power, a symbol as potent then as the grand hotels and the bustling bars in nearby Sunny Beach today.</p> <p>Historians say that Nesebar was initially a Thracian settlement, but the people who really set things moving there were newcomers arriving from faraway.</p> <p>In the 8th-7th centuries BC, ancient Greek cities in the Aegean were struggling to feed their growing populations. Colonisation of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea ensued, providing an outlet for the energy of the surplus young, and potentially rebellious, men from these cities. There was another benefit as well. The new colonies tapped the resources of foreign lands and established trade routes that supplied their hometowns with vital goods such as grain.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="nesebar medieval church" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/birds%20eye%20view%20of%20nesebar/nesebar%20from%20air%20medieval%20church%202.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>According to local legend, the medieval St John the Unconsecrated was never endorsed due to a fatal accident during construction. It suffered heavily from a devastating earthquake in 1913</em></p> <p>The Greeks, who arrived in the late 7th century BC at the rocky promontory, were a part of this movement. They were quick to dig in its strategic location. How did the Thracians, who were already living there, react? We do not know. The fact is that the Greeks established a city on the promontory and started trading with the Thracians on the mainland. The Greek colony's name, Mesambria, preserved a trace of its Thracian past. Bria is one of the few Thracian words we know today. It means "town."</p> <p>Greek Mesambria soon grew into a local power, a position it would hold for most of the following centuries. The exchange of Thracian grain, wood, wool and honey for Greek goods thrived. Profits were invested in the construction of strong fortifications and lavish temples. Mesambria continued to fare well after the Romans took over, in 72 BC, as a vital trading centre on the Black Sea.</p> <p>The town struck it really lucky in the 4th century AD, when a single man changed the course of world history. In 313, Emperor Constantine legalised Christianity and in 330 moved the imperial capital from Rome to Constantinople, on the Bosporus. Suddenly Mesambria, a city that for centuries had been on the fringe of civilisation, found itself within reach of the heart of a mighty empire. Its new, increased importance also made it a centre of Christianity.</p> <p>In the millennium that followed, the city – whose name evolved to Mesemvria – witnessed the construction of at least 40 churches. Eighteen remain to this day. One of the oldest is the 5th century Old Bishopric, now a shell of a building and a favourite with modern tourists. However, the churches built in the 11th-14th centuries are the ones that leave the strongest impression: concoctions of white stone and red brick laid in stripes, with ornaments such as suns, "wolf teeth," and swastikas, embellished with blue and green glazed tiles. This decorative style was rather understandably borrowed from nearby Constantinople. Mesemvria's connection to Byzantium was so strong that, in spite of the Bulgarians' efforts during the Middle Ages, the city rarely found itself outside the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire. It even fell under Ottoman rule the same year as Constantinople, in 1453.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="nesebar church" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/birds%20eye%20view%20of%20nesebar/nesebar%20from%20air%20church.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Unlike most churches in Nesebar, the Dormition of the Mother of God is a functioning house of prayer. It is also much newer, as it was built in 1873. A supposedly miraculous icon, dubbed the Black Mother of Christ, is kept in it and attracts crowds of pilgrims on 15 August</em> </p> <p>Location was location and trade was trade, regardless of the empire that taxed it. Mesemvria continued to prosper under the Ottomans, notwithstanding intermittent attacks by pirates. A decline started to creep in during the 19th century when a new trading centre, where Burgas is now, appeared south of the city. Gradually, Mesemvria turned into a fishing community whose inhabitants lived in beautiful wooden houses among the medieval churches.</p> <p>When Mesemvria became a part of modern Bulgaria, in 1885, it was still predominantly Greek. This was soon to change, and it almost destroyed the town. In 1906, news about Greek atrocities against Bulgarian communities in Macedonia, which was then still under the Ottomans, galvanised Bulgarian society. Tensions rose in cities with significant Greek populations such as Varna and Plovdiv. Days later, the Black Sea Greek town of Anhialo (now Pomorie) saw violent clashes that killed 14 people and caused a devastating fire. Mesemvria was next to face conflict that could have turned lethal. Luckily, the local mayor reached a compromise with the Bulgarians.</p> <p>Mesemvria was saved, but the Greeks did not stay there for long. After the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and the Great War redistributed the Ottoman Empire's European lands, most Greeks left Bulgaria. In their place ethnic Bulgarians from Greek-controlled territories arrived.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="nesebar from air" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/birds%20eye%20view%20of%20nesebar/nesebar%20from%20air.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p>In 1934, a nationalist Bulgarian government issued a decree to rename Mesemvria as Nesebar.</p> <p>At the time Nesebar was little more than a backwater that relied mostly on fishing. Things started to change when the fashion for seaside holidays reached Bulgaria. In 1959 the first hotel of what would become Sunny Beach welcomed its guests.</p> <p>Ironically, this decision by Communist Bulgaria to start a major resort turned the tide for Nesebar and gradually brought it back to its former self as a bustling centre of commerce and crowds. At least in summertime.</p> <p>If you prefer to have Old Nesebar's churches, mansions and alleys mostly for yourself, do visit after mid-September, when holidaymakers pack up their cars and board charter flights and return to their homes in Bulgaria and abroad, and peace and quiet reclaim the rocky peninsula.</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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-179-180" hreflang="en">Issue 179-180</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/283" hreflang="en">medieval heritage</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/281" hreflang="en">Bulgarian architecture</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/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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=3158&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="QgI13r-754IrIdO2F8I8BwyNR9vXA9IK1A16hVWSdwo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:30:04 +0000 DimanaT 3158 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/birds-eye-view-nesebar-3158#comments THE SECRETS OF REVIVAL PERIOD PLOVDIV https://vagabond.bg/index.php/secrets-revival-period-plovdiv-3154 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE SECRETS OF REVIVAL PERIOD PLOVDIV</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">Thu, 08/26/2021 - 15:03</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Colour, splendour, curious stories thrive in city's old quarter</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/2021-08/old%20plovdiv%20houses.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2021-08/old%20plovdiv%20houses.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="old plovdiv houses" title="old plovdiv houses" 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">A narrow passage separates the Kuyumdzhieva (left) and the Georgiadi House. Both are museums, dedicated respectively to local ethnography and Revival Period history</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The braw houses lining the cobblestone streets of Old Plovdiv are arguably the city's most recognisable sight. The only thing that can distract from marvelling at their painted façades, projecting bay windows and verdant gardens is the pavement. Polished by the feet of generations of passers-by, it is slippery even when dry, as the traveller and historian Konstantin Jireček noted as far back as the late 19th century.</p> <p>The mansions were built in the 18th and 19th centuries by wealthy Bulgarian, Greek and Armenian merchants, who traded and travelled far and wide within and beyond the vast Ottoman Empire. The architecture reflected the Ottoman fashion of the day: bay windows, ornamental wood carving and overhanging eaves. However, they have their own idiosyncrasies that have led some Bulgarian researchers to label their style Plovdiv Baroque.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="Kuyumdzhieva House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Kuyumdzhieva House has one of the finest façades in Old Plovdiv, and its interior reveals how 19th century Plovdiv residents combined traditional with European-style living</em></p> <p>The design of the Plovdiv Revival Period houses reflects the society that created them. Built by men with significant disposable income, they provided luxurious living for their inhabitants. People in other cities and towns usually had ateliers and shops on the ground floor of their homes, but the rich Plovdiv merchants were above the idea of combining business and pleasure. Their mansions served only one purpose: to impress the visitor, while being comfortable living quarters for their families.</p> <p>This was how the distinctive façades of the Plovdiv houses came to be, with their curved bay windows and eaves, bold colours and frescoes of flowers, landscapes and geometrical ornaments. High stone walls surrounded the small gardens, but at least one side of the house opened onto the street, as the inhabitants obviously wanted to keep up with what was going on in the city.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="embroidered tablecloth" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20detail.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Located nearby, Balabanova House is another place that preserves an interior from a bygone era</em></p> <p>This was particularly relevant for the womenfolk as, according to tradition, no reputable woman should be seen just walking in the streets, unattended by a male relative. A curious architectural invention, unique to Plovdiv, solved the problem. The Klyukarnik, or literally Space for Gossip, is a small projecting bay window at street level which allowed women to keep up with the latest news about town without leaving the comfort of their home. Interestingly, Bulgarians all over the country still use the word Klyukarnik as a nickname for Facebook.</p> <p>The interiors of Plovdiv's Revival Period houses matched their exteriors in grandeur. A large drawing room took up the best part of the living area, where guests were greeted and entertained in an environment that combined the old and the new. Fine traditional woodcarvings covered the ceilings, but the furniture and the cutlery were imported from the West, while murals of flowers and cities near and far adorned the walls.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="wooden ceiling" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20ceiling.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Wooden ceiling at Hindliyan's House</em></p> <p>The beauty of Revival Period Plovdiv enchants today, but it was not always so. At the end of the 19th century, Bulgarians became fascinated with Westernisation. Suddenly, the houses of their fathers and grandfathers seemed obsolete, outdated and uncomfortable. Consequently, many houses were demolished or abandoned. By the middle of the 20th century the Old Town was a shadow of its former self, with houses in different stages of dereliction, inhabited only by elderly folk.</p> <p>Luckily, just at that time the local council recognised the importance of the Old Town and its houses, and started to survey, document and restore them. According to some sources, in the following decades up to 80 percent of the houses in the neighbourhood were restored or built anew. Unfortunately, restoration works were often far from perfect. For example, instead of the original building materials such as clay mixed with reeds, bricks were used for the walls. Some of the restored murals also had nothing to do with the original decorations.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="HIndliyan House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20interior%202.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Hindliyan's House is one of the best places to peek into the lifestyle of wealthy Plovdiv citizens</em></p> <p>In spite of these shortcomings, the Old Town of Plovdiv is now a place where the atmosphere of times long gone is still palpable and a significant number of its beautiful houses have become museums and galleries.</p> <p>The Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv is in one of the Old Town's most imposing buildings, the Kuyumdzhiev House. It was erected in 1847 by a wealthy merchant, Argir Kuyumdzhioglu, and makes good use of a natural slope and some medieval ruins that still exist. Its rear wall incorporates parts of medieval Plovdiv's fortification walls and Hisar Kapiya gate. Seen from the front, it has only two storeys, but at the back it has four.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="Lamartine House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20lamartine.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The house where French poet and revolutionary, Alphonse de Lamartine, lived for some time in 1833, is named after him, not after its owners, the Mavridis </em></p> <p>The Kuyumdzhieva House has 12 rooms and two drawing rooms decorated with woodcarved ceilings. Its magnificent interior suggests the wealth of its original owners but the house has seen poorer times as well. At the end of the 19th century it was used as a dormitory for girls, then variously as a milliner's factory, a vinegar distillation workshop and a flour storeroom. In 1938 its significance was recognised, and the predecessor of today's Regional Ethnographic Museum moved in.</p> <p>The Balabanov House is another landmark of Old Town Plovdiv. It was built by a merchant, Panayot Lampsha, at the beginning of the 19th century, but is known by the name of its last owner, a timber merchant called Hristo Balabanov. It was modelled on the sumptuous residences lining the Bosporous in Istanbul at the time. The Balabanov House has all the telltale signs of a Revival Period Plovdiv mansion: large drawing rooms, lavishly decorated spaces and internal staircases.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="Klianti House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20interior.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The grand salon of the Klianti House is richly decorated with ornate murals and had luxury furniture imported from Europe</em></p> <p>Unfortunately, the original Balabanov House was knocked down in 1935. It was rebuilt 40 years later using the master construction plans. Most of its rooms are now used for cultural events and exhibitions.</p> <p>Next to the Balabanov House is the residence of the wealthy Armenian merchant, Stepan Hindliyan. In contrast to the Balabanov House, it has mostly remained in its original state.</p> <p>The Hindliyan House is in fact a small mansion-type compound. In addition to the large main house it has service rooms, accommodation for the servants, a laundry and a summer kitchen. Interestingly, it also has a private safehouse in the form of a windowless two-storey building equipped with a heavy door, where the Hindliyan family kept its wealth.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="art gallery plovdiv" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20zlatyu%20boyadzhiev.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Seeing the paintings of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev is a must when in Plovdiv. They are exhibited in the two-storey house of Dr Stoyan Chomakov, built in the mid-19th century</em></p> <p>It was built in 1848 and it had all the mod cons of the time, including an Ottoman-style bathroom, a hamam, with running hot and cold water and a room for the bathers to relax in.</p> <p>Most of the rooms are decorated with wall paintings depicting faraway locations that the owner reputedly visited in his business travels. These include St Petersburg, Stockholm, Venice, Lisbon, Athens, the Prince Islands in the sea of Marmara and Jerusalem. Curiously, whoever painted them had apparently done so out of imagination rather than real-life experience: Jerusalem, for instance, was depicted as being at a... sea.</p> <p>Stepan Hindliyan's family left its opulent residence in 1915 and donated it to 23 Armenian families fleeing from the Ottoman Empire. In 1974 the house was listed, restored and equipped with 19th century furniture.</p> <p>One of Old Plovdiv's grand houses bears the name of the French poet and revolutionary, Alphonse de Lamartine. The beautiful three-storey house with arches that seem to defy gravity was built in 1830 by a local, the merchant Georgi Mavridi. What Lamartine did to immortalise it was stay there for three days, in 1833, whilst returning from the Middle East.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="Nero house, Plovdiv" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20nero%202.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Veren Stambolyan House is dedicated to the works of Dimitar "Neron" Kirov, an emblematic Plovdiv artist </em></p> <p>Today the Lamartine House belongs to the Bulgarian Union of Writers. One of its rooms is open for visitors and houses a small exhibition about Lamartine.</p> <p>The Klianti House is one of the oldest in Plovdiv. Its construction started in the late 18th century and ended in 1817. During the following decades it underwent major renovations that significantly altered its architecture. Today only about three quarters of its original design remains. What impresses most is the sumptuously decorated ceilings that depict ornaments, vases and plants, and the murals of Vienna, Constantinople and Klianti House itself. In 2017 Klianti House and its decorations were restored to their 1817 design.</p> <p>Built in the 1860s, the residence of the wealthy merchant from Karlovo, Georgi Nedkovich, makes its mark with its sumptuously decorated façade featuring ornate compositions and landscapes above its windows. Its furnishings reflect the 19th century vogue: European furniture and floors covered with Chiprovtsi and Kotel carpets.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="art by nero" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20nero.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Art by Dimitar "Neron" Kirov</em></p> <p>Some houses in the Old Town merit a visit not so much for their architecture or interior design but for the artwork they house. The gallery showcasing Zlatyu Boyadzhiev's art is one of them.</p> <p>The two-storey building was erected in 1858-1860 for Dr Stoyan Chomakov, who was a leading figure in the 19th century Bulgarian Church independence movement. Having graduated in medicine in Italy, he returned to Plovdiv and became the chief surgeon of Bulgaria's first hospital, founded in Plovdiv after the 1878 liberation. In the late 19th-early 20th century the house was used as a residence by Prince Ferdinand I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the Bulgarian monarch at the time. In 1984 it was turned into a gallery for Zlatyu Boyadzhiev's art.</p> <p>To call Zlatyu Boyadzhiev (1903-1976) a naivist would be to downplay the talent of a remarkable painter who depicted Bulgarian life in Plovdiv and beyond. His later style, inimitably grotesque, was the result of a stroke he suffered in 1951. Left partially paralysed, he was physically compelled to abandon realism, and thus a personal tragedy spawned one of the most influential Bulgarian artists. Zlatyu Boyadzhiev's paintings are explosions of life in bright, pure colours: women chat and pray in quaint chapels, while men drink, butcher pigs and go hunting. Priests pray over dead bodies, and children ride sledges in an ostensibly chaotic swirl of dramatic, comic and tragic tales.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="The old Hippocrates Pharmacy is a true gem of Old Plovdiv" src="/sites/default/files/issues/179-180/secrets%20of%20old%20plovdiv%20houses/old%20plovdiv%20house%20pharmacy.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The old Hippocrates Pharmacy is a true gem of Old Plovdiv</em></p> <p>Whitewashed on the outside, the Veren Stambolyan House, dating back to the mid-19th century, looks misleadingly uninteresting. However, since 2010 it has housed a permanent collection of the paintings of Dimitar "Neron" Kirov (1933-2008), one of the emblematic Plovdiv artists.</p> <p>One of the most pleasant gems of Old Plovdiv is a pharmacy set in the house of Dr Sotir Antoniadi. From 1872 to 1947 Plovdiv citizens came here to buy medicines prepared by pharmacists with degrees from West European universities. The tiny two-storey house is full of dozens of small bottles, drawers, scales, herbs, books, anatomical models and strange instruments that appear better suited for torture than cure. The house has a miniature yard, with medicinal flowers and herbs that it is as enchanting as the interior.</p> <p>The Revival Period citizens of Plovdiv spent their money not only on building houses for themselves and their families but also on projects that benefited the whole community, one being the Yellow School. This is the oldest building in Plovdiv that is still being used for its original purpose. It was erected in 1868 through a sultan's decree, which is indicated by two stone tablets on its wall, one in Ottoman Turkish and one in Bulgarian. Initially, the building housed the First Plovdiv High School. In 1964, the Plovdiv Academy for Music, Dance and Visual Arts moved in. At present, it is the home of its Folklore Faculty.</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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-179-180" hreflang="en">Issue 179-180</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/276" hreflang="en">Plovdiv</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/281" hreflang="en">Bulgarian architecture</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=3154&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="7U4y1hw-B1UQgyAC63U6fbhl8j7HWUZqLylYeB3j1Gk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:03:35 +0000 DimanaT 3154 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/secrets-revival-period-plovdiv-3154#comments (RE)DISCOVERING MELNIK https://vagabond.bg/index.php/rediscovering-melnik-3059 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">(RE)DISCOVERING MELNIK</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">Mon, 05/31/2021 - 11:18</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>From stunning scapes to heavy wine, there is a lot to discover in Bulgaria's smallest town</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/2021-05/melnik%205.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2021-05/melnik%205.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="The mansion of the wealthy Kordopoulov family looms over the rest of Melnik, surrounded by the town&#039;s emblematic sandstone cliffs" 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 mansion of the wealthy Kordopoulov family looms over the rest of Melnik, surrounded by the town&#039;s emblematic sandstone cliffs</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>What is Bulgaria's smallest town? Bulgarian children learn the answer early in school. However, the reason both local and foreign tourists visit Melnik, population 194, is not its size. They cherish Melnik, in southwest Bulgaria, for its well-preserved Revival Period architecture, strong local wine and surreal surroundings of white limestone pyramids. Its location is just off the E79 route from Sofia to Greece, a short drive from Bansko.</p> <p>On the surface, Melnik is one of the best museum-town experiences in Bulgaria. Tall traditional houses fill narrow ravines and riverbeds between even taller limestone pyramids. Dark, strong wine made of the local Wide Melnik Vine matures in deep cold cellars, dug into the soft rock. The spacious, lavishly decorated rooms of the Kordopulov's House, Melnik's main museum, inspire fantasies of times long gone. As with most museum towns, Melnik looks as if it comes straight out of a  fairytale.</p> <p>Look closer and you will detect a certain feeling of sadness in Melnik, the melancholy of a place that is long past its prime and is now trying to survive on the remnants of its former glory.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="The reception room at Kordopoulov's House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/176/discovering%20melnik/melnik%204.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The reception room at Kordopoulov's House is furnished in the traditional Ottoman fashion: low benches and lots of fabrics, cushions and woodcarvings. The stain-glass windows, a luxury at the time, fill the room with natural light</em></p> <p>The town relies heavily on tourism and small-time wine-production. Its inhabitants are now dependent on what their forefathers built, and those old inhabitants of Melnik created much more than is visible today. Not all that long ago, the town was home to thousands of people of all nationalities, faiths and walks of life.</p> <p>Melnik appeared in the early Middle Ages and, as it was in an easily defensible location by a popular Balkan road, it was hotly contested between local powers, mainly Bulgaria and Byzantium. The city often changed hands and on several occasions was the capital of autonomous rulers.</p> <p>The most prominent of those was Bulgarian Alexius Slav. A cousin of the Asenvtsi Brothers, who restored Bulgaria's sovereignty after two centuries of Byzantine domination, in 1185, he declared independence in 1207. At that time the last of his cousins died and the throne passed on to a man he considered an usurper. Slav held his stronghold, Melnik, for 20 years but eventually the area was incorporated in Bulgaria and he slipped out of history.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="The cellars of Kordopoulov's House" src="/sites/default/files/issues/176/discovering%20melnik/melnik%20wine.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The cellars of Kordopoulov's House are a different experience. Dug in the sandstone bedrock, dark and perpetually cool, they were used for wine ageing and storage. A tour of Kordopoulov's House ends in the cellars, with a wine tasting and an option to buy local wine</em></p> <p>Medieval Melnik was extensive and fortified, with dozens of churches and fortified houses lived in until the beginning of the 20th century. Bulgarians and Greeks cohabited, and Bulgarian kings and Byzantine emperors sometimes banished rebellious noblemen to Melnik.</p> <p>The city went through a period of decline when the Ottomans conquered in the late 14th century. It gradually began to revive itself three centuries later, due to its location and the production of wine and tobacco. When Ottoman traveller Evliya Celebi visited Melnik he saw a beautiful village, full of lush vineyards and gardens.</p> <p>In the following 250 years Melnik prospered and grew. This was when spacious mansions like the Kordopulova House appeared, providing opulent living for the wealthy wine and tobacco producers and merchants. It was also the time when Melnik again became a fortress – only this fortress was not made of stone and mortar, but of language, culture and religion. The area around the city was Bulgarian-populated, but Melnik was another affair. A significant number of Turks and Gypsies called it home while the majority were Greeks and Bulgarians.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="The town stretches along the banks of a capricious local river. Most of the year it is almost dry, but flash floods are not unheard-of" src="/sites/default/files/issues/176/discovering%20melnik/melnik.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The town stretches along the banks of a capricious local river. Most of the year it is almost dry, but flash floods are not unheard-of</em></p> <p>The Greek culture prevailed as it was considered more sophisticated. For decades Bulgarian families spoke Greek even in their homes, and sent their children to the local Greek school rather than the Bulgarian one. The lure of Philhellenism was so strong that even Bulgarian villagers who resettled in Melnik would soon start to converse in Greek.</p> <p>This situation changed after the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913, when Melnik and its surroundings joined Bulgaria. The Turks left. The Greeks left. The Bulgarians who sided with the Greeks left, too. The town shrank and many houses were abandoned. When Bulgarian historian Professor Vasil Zlatarski visited Melnik in 1916, he saw "a true ruin: from 2,000 houses (with about 10,000 inhabitants) there are hardly 200 inhabited houses; everything else is ruined or half-ruined from fires, or whole houses stand whole, but without windows and doors."</p> <p>By that time Melnik had already been in decline. It all began with the changing of the transit routes in the mid-19th century. Traffic along the Struma Valley, where the modern E79 now runs, intensified and Melnik, isolated in its forbidding labyrinth of stone pyramids, was forgotten. The city was often inhospitable even to its own inhabitants, with rains turning its narrow alleys and streets into torrents of muddy water. People began leaving for better and more prosperous cities in the region.</p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="Despite the tourist boom, many homes and buildings in Melnik are abandoned and on the brink of collapse" src="/sites/default/files/issues/176/discovering%20melnik/melnik%202.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Despite the tourist boom, many homes and buildings in Melnik are abandoned and on the brink of collapse</em></p> <p>By the 1880s, Melnik was already a place of dilapidation and dust, with no sanitation. The wine was still good but the local vineyards would be soon decimated by phylloxera.</p> <p>Wine production in Melnik began to revive in the interwar period. Winston Churchill is reported to have been a connoisseur of the local wines. The other impetus for at least a partial revival came in 1968, when Melnik was declared a museum town – and the tourists arrived, hungry for the beauty of the old-time atmosphere, and thirsty for a glass of the strong, almost black wine. </p> <p class="align-center"><span><img alt="melnik" src="/sites/default/files/issues/176/discovering%20melnik/melnik%203.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p> </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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-176" hreflang="en">Issue 176</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/281" hreflang="en">Bulgarian architecture</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/318" hreflang="en">Bulgarian wine</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/280" hreflang="en">Bulgarian history</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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">Comments</h2> <article role="article" data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-304" about="/index.php/comment/304" typeof="schema:Comment" class="comment js-comment by-anonymous clearfix"> <span class="hidden new-indicator" data-comment-timestamp="1625378360"></span> <header> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/index.php/user/0" class="profile"> </article> </header> <div class="comment__content-container"> <nav class="comment__links"><drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=304&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="2d6B3WuY6c5E1L2Z3MB60uZcBT_TEOKEvTGxfyr7IKQ"></drupal-render-placeholder></nav> <div class="comment__meta"> <span>Submitted by <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Eskra Dale (gmail) (not verified)</span></span> Sun, 07/04/2021 - 08:55 <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2021-07-04T05:55:00+00:00" class="rdf-meta hidden"></span> </span> </div> <h3 property="schema:name" datatype="" class="title"><a href="/index.php/comment/304#comment-304" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">A place to love</a></h3> <div class="comment__content"> <div property="schema:text" class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><p>No other place on earth like it. I discovered Melnik because of its wine I had immediately fallen in love with it elsewhere in BG. Had to visit. Was treated to vintage from a cave on a warm day in May. Nothing in the world will ever surpass that experience. Bliss. That was in 1996 on my second trip to BG, which I will always treasure.</p> </div> </div> </div> </article> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3059&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="KaM1910G-aZHX4yU3IqFxFPWmh2mx-_gnG1leYJtNQE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 31 May 2021 08:18:28 +0000 DimanaT 3059 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/rediscovering-melnik-3059#comments POSTCARD FROM ELENA https://vagabond.bg/index.php/postcard-elena-2845 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">POSTCARD FROM ELENA</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">Fri, 10/30/2020 - 11:10</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>From history to ham: sleepy Stara Planina town is hidden gem</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/2020-10/old%20elena.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-10/old%20elena.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="Elena&#039;s traditional old town" 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">Elena&#039;s traditional old town</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>"First we waited for the British tourists, then we waited for the Russians and now we are waiting for the Romanians." This was how, a decade ago, a guesthouse owner summed up the hopes and disappointments of small-time entrepreneurs in Elena, a town in the Stara Planina mountain range, about 40 kms from Veliko Tarnovo. Back in those days, EU-funded development of "green" initiatives and rural tourism was all the rage in Bulgaria, especially in economically struggling areas. Seen as a magic bullet for all the economic problems that beset small-town Bulgaria, guesthouses, traditional restaurants and eco trails were popping up overnight all across the country.</p> <p>The tourist boom never materialised in the way it was envisaged and promoted, and in many places tourism infrastructure began to decline. This, however, did not mean that those places which had had high hopes were not worth visiting. In the Covid-19-defined summer of 2020, thousands of Bulgarians decided to swap their usual holiday in Greece or Italy for Bulgaria, and they were amazed to discover the hidden gems in their own country.</p> <p><img alt="Monument to 19th century painter Zahari Zograf" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/zahari%20zograf%20monument.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Monument to 19th century painter Zahari Zograf</em></p> <p>Elena is one such place. This sleepy town of about 5,500 residents has all the attributes to be a centre of tourism. It is located in a particularly picturesque corner of the Stara Planina, and combines traditional wooden houses darkened over time with elegant turn-of-the-century town houses. Elena's history is equally formidable. It is quiet now, but in the 18th-19th centuries the town was prosperous. Its wealthiest inhabitants were so influential that even Ottoman officials were at pains not to disturb them. The local school was good at "producing" teachers who spread all over the Bulgarian lands, promoting modern education and ideas of national independence. It was dubbed The Teachers Factory. The list of prominent Bulgarian clerics, rebels, entrepreneurs, writers and politicians born in Elena at that time is disproportionately long for such a small place.</p> <p>One of the legends about how Elena came to be reflects the high self-esteem locals had in those days. It attributes the foundation of the town to an eponymous medieval queen. The other popular legend about Elena's beginnings reflects the main danger the community faced: attacks by brigands vying for its wealth. It maintains Elena was named after a beautiful local girl killed in a brigand attack on her wedding day.</p> <p><img alt="The 1865 Nativity of Virgin Mary church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/bridge.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The 1865 Nativity of Virgin Mary church</em></p> <p>After the Bulgarian state was restored, in 1878, Elena began to lose inhabitants and businesses as many moved to the new capital Sofia and its opportunities. This was how Elena's long decline began, a process that became more pronounced after 1989, with the collapse of Communism and its planned economy that provided lowly-paid but secure jobs. In the 2000s and the 2010s, tourism was one of the few opportunities for locals to earn a living in Elena.</p> <p>Elena and its environs are a delight to explore. Sleepy hamlets with traditional houses populate the meandering roads around the town. The nearby Hristovski Waterfall and the springs of the Kamchiya River are the most interesting natural sites in the area, and Yovkovtsi Reservoir is a pleasant spot for angling and holidaying.</p> <p>Elena itself has physically changed little from the times of its prosperity. Its old core climbs up a hill: a maze of cobbled streets, dark wooden mansions and a museum precinct housing the "Teachers Factory" school and two formidable churches.</p> <p><img alt="Assumption and St Nicholas church are a couple of meters apart" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/st%20nicholas%20and%20assumption%20churches.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Assumption and St Nicholas church are a couple of meters apart</em></p> <p>Built three decades and a couple of metres apart, St Nicholas Church and the Assumption Church could not be more different. The locals built St Nicholas in 1804 in line with the Ottoman regulations that limited the size and appearance of churches. Consequently, from the outside St Nicholas is low and unimpressive, its walls at least a metre thick and its windows looking like embrasures. You could certainly believe the legend which claims that during construction the citizens of Elena lied to the Ottoman, saying that they were erecting a barn, not a place of worship. When you step into the church, however, you are in for a surprise, as the interior is covered in bright, intense murals painted in 1817-1818.</p> <p>The Assumption Church was built in 1837, soon after the sultan eased restrictions on non-Muslim places of worship, and it shows. This church is grand and ambitious in scale, and its dome can be seen from afar. It was in fact Bulgaria's largest pre-1878 Liberation church; a larger-than-life, unapologetic message of the self-confidence of the community which built it.</p> <p><img alt="Murals at St Nicholas church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/frescos.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Murals at St Nicholas church</em></p> <p>After 1878, Western European fashions in urban planning arrived in Bulgaria, and in Elena. Citizens were quick to build for themselves, their businesses and their community elegant homes, schools, assembly halls and churches. This part of Elena continues to reflect this: a charming mixture of Western architecture with strong Balkan and post-Communist flavours. Under Communism, Elena was also one of the few traditional Bulgarian towns that were lucky not to get revamped according to the brutalist urban planning popular in the 1970s and the 1980s. Its Socialist-era central square, adorned with the ubiquitous monument celebrating local history and the bright Communist future to come, is small and unobtrusive.</p> <p>Elena is a pleasure not only for the eyes and the mind, but also for the palate. The area's unique microclimate is why here and only here the famous and utterly delicious Elenski but, an air-dried ham similar to prosciutto crudo, is produced. For years the only way to try it was to get to know someone in Elena eager to share their homemade Elenski but. Nowadays, thanks to local initiatives and entrepreneurs, you can buy it from specialised stores in Elena, along with other meat delicacies made from traditional recipes. Some of these businesses even deliver across Bulgaria, but that is no excuse to be lazy. Take a trip to Elena to experience this gem of a place for yourself. </p> <p><img alt="Each Elena family has its own recipe for the famed Elenski but bacon" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/elena%20ham.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Each Elena family has its own recipe for the famed Elenski but bacon</em></p> <h4>What was Januarius doing in Elena?</h4> <p>Januarius Aloysius MacGahan, the Ohio-born reporter for the London Daily News in the 1860s and 1870s sometimes stayed with a friend in Elena, who also acted as his interpreter.</p> <p><img alt="Januarius MacGahan" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/januarius%20macgahan.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p>Even under Communism Bulgaria celebrated MacGahan for his intense writing about Ottoman atrocities in the Bulgarian lands and for his championship of the Bulgarian national cause. The small Balkan town is one of the few locations in Bulgaria where you can actually see a monument to an American. In recent years the local authorities have even changed the caption to MacGahan's larger-than-life monument as the previous one misspelled his first name as "Jenerarius."</p> <p><img alt="Painted horse carts can still be seen on the streets of Elena" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/cart.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Painted horse carts can still be seen on the streets of Elena</em></p> <p><img alt="Monuments in Elena's Communist-era square" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/monument.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Monuments in Elena's Communist-era square</em></p> <p><img alt="Petrified ammonite from Elena's most surprising site of interest, the Palaeontology Museum. Housed in a wooden old mansion it displays fossils found in the area" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/fossil.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Petrified ammonite from Elena's most surprising site of interest, the Palaeontology Museum. Housed in a wooden old mansion it displays fossils found in the area</em></p> <p><img alt="Old tombstones lined by St Nicholas Church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/169/elena/tombstones.jpg" class="align-center" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Old tombstones lined by St Nicholas Church</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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-169" hreflang="en">Issue 169</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/299" hreflang="en">Bulgarian food</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/246" hreflang="en">Traditions Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/249" hreflang="en">The Stara Planina</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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=2845&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="xfyTryJZDZj7G3rTnAJupB1hFE4JQTU-W_ZvQmZsy04"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:10:02 +0000 DimanaT 2845 at https://vagabond.bg VELIKO TARNOVO: CITY OF A THOUSAND VISTAS https://vagabond.bg/index.php/veliko-tarnovo-city-thousand-vistas-2350 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">VELIKO TARNOVO: CITY OF A THOUSAND VISTAS</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">Wed, 08/05/2020 - 11:28</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>One of Bulgaria's it-places</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/2020-08/veliko%20tarnovo%205.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-08/veliko%20tarnovo%205.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="veliko tarnovo 5.jpg " 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">Tsarevets fortress and the Patriarch&#039;s Church, built in the 1980s, seen from the New Metropolitan church, built in the 1930s </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Each country has a handful of it-places. They are instantly recognisable from millions of fridge magnets and Instagram posts, and their history, with its tragedies and triumphs, is part of the national consciousness.</p> <p>Veliko Tarnovo is one of Bulgaria's it-places. Clinging to the slopes above a series of meanders of the River Yantra, it still has echoes of the splendid medieval capital that witnessed this nation's glory and its halcyon days before it fell to the Ottomans. The traditional houses that climb the city hills are a reminder of the times when Tarnovo was a centre of rising Bulgarian national consciousness, and are as picturesque as they are impractical to live in. After Bulgaria regained its statehood, in 1878, Tarnovo blended the symbolical and the historical, and became the setting for two major events. In 1879, the first Bulgarian parliament met there and adopted the first Bulgarian Constitution, known affectionately to this day as the Tarnovo Constitution. Significantly, all but two of Bulgaria's Grand National Assemblies, whose powers exceeded those of regular Bulgarian parliaments as they were supposed to make constitutional amendments, met at Tarnovo, including the most recent one, in 1990. In 1908, Bulgaria's full independence from its former suzerain, the Ottoman Empire, was declared in Tarnovo.</p> <p>Veliko Tarnovo is not all about history, national pride and quaint architecture. It teems with the students of one of Bulgaria's oldest universities. Before the Covid-19 pandemic anyway, it was always busy with tourists. During the optimistic part of the 2000s (do you remember those times?), expats from the UK, Ireland and elsewhere settled in the city and the nearby villages.</p> <p><img alt="The 1980s monument dedicated to the kings of the Asen dynasty adorns a Yantra meander. A landmark in itself, it is a beloved spot for artists and wedding photos" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/166/city%20of%20thousand%20vistas/veliko%20tarnovo%206.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The 1980s monument dedicated to the kings of the Asen dynasty adorns a Yantra meander. A landmark in itself, it is a beloved spot for artists and wedding photos</em></p> <p>The melding of revered Bulgarian history and modern events in Tarnovo is not without conflict. The medieval fortifications and churches on the Tsarevets and Trapezitsa hills that are now seen as the epitome of national glory were largely built in the 1980s (in the case for the former) and the 2000s (in the case for the latter) to inspire patriotism and to provide photo opportunities. The ring of medieval churches at the foot of Tsarevets hill was, for the most part, newly reconstructed after damage caused by the Ottomans and, in 1913, by a powerful earthquake. The most questionable additions to "patriotic tourism" in Veliko Tarnovo are the most recent ones: a multimedia visitor centre peopled by wax figures of Bulgarian kings and queens, and an amazingly silly Mini Bulgaria theme park right at the foot of Tsarevets.</p> <p>The Revival Period part of the city that spreads over the hill opposite Tsarevets and Trapezitsa is more authentic. Its whitewashed houses, which inspired Le Corbusier during his 1911 trip to the Balkans, are reminders of the days when Tarnovo was a major economic and cultural centre, and an inspiration for nationalist sentiment. The post-1878 European-style houses and the public buildings among them add another layer to this ever changing city, where history and tradition may have been destroyed and rebuilt, but rarely vanished completely. In those days Tarnovo did not necessarily look to its past, but strove to belong to the wider world.</p> <p><img alt="In 1911, Tarnovo houses stunned Le Corbusier. &quot;What an incredible city,&quot; the architect wrote. &quot;Thousands of houses balancing on the edge of vertical cliffs, rising one above the other, reaching up to the top of the ridge. Their walls are white, their skeleton is black and their roof is like tree bark. Seen from a distance, the monotonous layering of the houses makes space for several large white spots, which are the churches&quot;" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/166/city%20of%20thousand%20vistas/veliko%20tarnovo.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>In 1911, Tarnovo houses stunned Le Corbusier. "What an incredible city," the architect wrote. "Thousands of houses balancing on the edge of vertical cliffs, rising one above the other, reaching up to the top of the ridge. Their walls are white, their skeleton is black and their roof is like tree bark. Seen from a distance, the monotonous layering of the houses makes space for several large white spots, which are the churches"</em></p> <p>This is now under threat. While over-construction undermines the integrity of Tarnovo's medieval core, the Revival Period and late 19th century part of the city suffers from neglect. Tired of climbing up and down the steep alleyways in the old centre, many residents have opted for more convenient homes in the flatter, newer part of the city. Targeting tourists, many old houses were restored and made into hotels, B&amp;Bs and restaurants, yet way too many others are in different stages of abandonment and dereliction, slowly crumbling into nothing. When they collapse, they are replaced by unnatural amalgamations combining respect for traditional architecture with a love of plastic double-glazed windows.</p> <p>Hopefully, Veliko Tarnovo will survive the carnage of misplaced modernity. After all, as one of Bulgaria's it-places it has seen worse in its centuries-old history. </p> <p><img alt="After the Ottomans took Tarnovo, in 1393, they settled over the ruins of Tsarevets Hill. Bulgarians had to move house to the steep hill nearby. In the 19th century they erected some beautiful churches, such as Ss Constantine and Helena, built in 1872 by famed master builder Kolyu Ficheto" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/166/city%20of%20thousand%20vistas/veliko%20tarnovo%204.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>After the Ottomans took Tarnovo, in 1393, they settled over the ruins of Tsarevets Hill. Bulgarians had to move house to the steep hill nearby. In the 19th century they erected some beautiful churches, such as Ss Constantine and Helena, built in 1872 by famed master builder Kolyu Ficheto</em></p> <p><img alt="Brothers Asen and Petar started their rebellion against the Byzantines in St Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church, in 1185, and effectively restored the Bulgarian state after two centuries of Byzantine domination. The current building is a masterful reconstruction from the 1970s. The Ss 40 Martyrs Church by the bridge was less lucky. Built in 1230, it was used as burial ground of Bulgarian kings, but when the Ottomans invaded, they converted it to a mosque. Then an earthquake damaged it severely. By the 1970s the church was on the verge of collapse. When it was finally restored, in the 2000s, the result was an aesthetic compromise. Both St Dimitar and Ss 40 Martyrs are now museums" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/166/city%20of%20thousand%20vistas/veliko%20tarnovo%203.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Brothers Asen and Petar started their rebellion against the Byzantines in St Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church, in 1185, and effectively restored the Bulgarian state after two centuries of Byzantine domination. The current building is a masterful reconstruction from the 1970s. The Ss 40 Martyrs Church by the bridge was less lucky. Built in 1230, it was used as burial ground of Bulgarian kings, but when the Ottomans invaded, they converted it to a mosque. Then an earthquake damaged it severely. By the 1970s the church was on the verge of collapse. When it was finally restored, in the 2000s, the result was an aesthetic compromise. Both St Dimitar and Ss 40 Martyrs are now museums</em></p> <p><img alt="The so-called Baldwin Tower has the grim fame of being the prison of Baldwin I of Flanders, the first Westerner to rule in Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade took over Byzantium, in 1204. He ended up in Tarnovo after he lost a battle to Bulgarian King Kaloyan, in 1205. For some reason (sources disagree), the crusader enraged the Bulgarian to such an extent that he was maimed and thrown alive from the tower. He survived the fall and suffered for days before dying. The Baldwin Tower you see today is not genuine. It was built in the 1930s after the design of another Medieval tower – in Cherven Fortress, near Ruse" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/166/city%20of%20thousand%20vistas/veliko%20tarnovo%201.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The so-called Baldwin Tower has the grim fame of being the prison of Baldwin I of Flanders, the first Westerner to rule in Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade took over Byzantium, in 1204. He ended up in Tarnovo after he lost a battle to Bulgarian King Kaloyan, in 1205. For some reason (sources disagree), the crusader enraged the Bulgarian to such an extent that he was maimed and thrown alive from the tower. He survived the fall and suffered for days before dying. The Baldwin Tower you see today is not genuine. It was built in the 1930s after the design of another Medieval tower – in Cherven Fortress, near Ruse</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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-166" hreflang="en">Issue 166</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/257" hreflang="en">Medieval Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</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=2350&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="RhWAsNdpdRgm75Qous9M846_gqcPIkmQdCgRK9-3t-Y"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 05 Aug 2020 08:28:56 +0000 DimanaT 2350 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/veliko-tarnovo-city-thousand-vistas-2350#comments WHO WERE CYRIL AND METHODIUS? https://vagabond.bg/index.php/who-were-cyril-and-methodius <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHO WERE CYRIL AND METHODIUS?</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/1" lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">floyd</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 04/30/2020 - 08:50</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria celebrates creators of Slavonic alphabet as major national heroes</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/2020-05/46a6d3fa3730bbc176c46dd1be92fe9e_XL.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/46a6d3fa3730bbc176c46dd1be92fe9e_XL.jpg" width="900" height="675" alt="46a6d3fa3730bbc176c46dd1be92fe9e_XL.jpg" 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">Statue of Ss Cyril and Methodius in front of the eponymous National Library in Sofia. As the building was constructed during Communism, the façade inscription omitted &quot;saints&quot; from the brothers&#039; names</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The image of two men, one young and sporting a dark beard and the other older and white-bearded, with books and parchments in their hands, are to be found all over Bulgaria. There are countless statues and posters, church murals and icons. Their images multiply on 24 May, when long processions of students crowd the central streets of every city carrying posters, usually decorated with flowers.</p> <p>Their names are also to be seen everywhere: on schools, streets, the National Library and one of the oldest universities in the country. This is an impressive feat for two people who lived 1,200 years ago and who, according to some historians, were not even Bulgarian.</p> <p>Born in 9th century Salonika, Cyril and Methodius achieved something which still shapes the cultural landscape of Bulgaria and Europe. As with so many things, it started with politics.</p> <p>In the mid-9th century, thousands of pagan Slavs had settled within and around Byzantium, forming a buffer zone between that state and Rome. Both centres of power were keen to spread their own form of Christianity among these Slavs as an effective tool for gaining political influence in medieval times.</p> <p><img alt="Cyril and Methodius" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V163/cyril_and_methodius/cyril-methodius-5.jpg" title="Cyril and Methodius" width="100%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Bulgarian students parade in central Burgas on 24 May, Day of Ss Cyril and Methodius, the Cyrillic alphabet and Bulgarian education, science and culture</em></p> <p>In Constantinople, Patriarch Photios had a bright idea. At that time, only three languages were permitted for the saying of mass and the copying of the Holy Scriptures: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. What if, Photios thought, Byzantium preached to the Slavs in their own tongue? Translating the Bible and the liturgy into a language they could understand would very likely convert more souls, and increase the influence of Byzantium. Emperor Michael III liked the idea, but there was a hurdle. Greek letters were unfit to express all the Slavonic sounds. A new alphabet, tailored to the phonetics of the Slavonic language, had to be created. This would require someone with a deep knowledge of the Slavonic and other languages, and also of Christian philosophy and scripture.</p> <p>Fortunately for Photios and Michael III, they had such a man. Born in the 820s into the family of a Thessaloniki official, Cyril was fluent in Slavonic. Bulgarians claim that he had learnt the language from his supposedly Bulgarian mother. Another explanation is that he picked it up from the many Slavs in the city. Besides being a brilliant linguist, Cyril was also an accomplished philosopher. He was less than 40 when he was sent to proselytise among the Khazars in the Crimea. He produced some impressive arguments but ultimately failed, as the Khazars opted for Judaism. However, the Khazar Mission established Cyril as an exceptional theologian and public speaker.</p> <p>When in 862 Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia (today part of the Czechia and Slovakia), asked Emperor Michael III for missionaries to convert his people to Christianity, Cyril was the obvious choice. By the time when he and his elder brother Methodius, who was a scribe, left for Moravia, Cyril had already devised an early version of the Slavonic alphabet.</p> <p><img alt="Cyril and Methodius" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V163/cyril_and_methodius/cyril-methodius-1.jpg" title="Cyril and Methodius" width="100%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>A statue of Ss Cyril and Methodius is among the sculptures on Charles Bridge, in Prague</em></p> <p>Known today as Glagolitic (the name comes from the Slavic verb glagoliti, to speak), it looks strange to modern eyes and rightfully so. Many of its letters were borrowed from Armenian, Coptic and Hebrew scripts, and others were Cyril's invention.</p> <p>Upon arrival in Great Moravia, the two brothers wasted no time. They started translating the Holy Scriptures and teaching local boys the Glagolitic alphabet.</p> <p>Initially, they were welcomed, but things did not go smoothly. Rome sent its own missionaries to Great Moravia and protested that the Byzantine monks were using an uncanonical language to say Mass and for the holy texts. In 867, Cyril went to Rome where he successfully argued the use of the Slavonic language and alphabet in church and scripture. He never left Rome. In 869, he fell ill and died, aged 42. Cyril was buried with full honours in the San Clemente Basilica. His tomb has been a destination for Bulgarian state dignitaries for many years.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Methodius remained in Great Moravia. He advocated the use of the Glagolitic alphabet for 20 years, but finally Western Christianity prevailed. Soon after Methodius died, in 885, aged 69, the pope banned the celebration of mass in the Slavonic language. Methodius's most trusted disciples were expelled.</p> <p>This is when Bulgaria entered the story.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Cyril and Methodius" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V163/cyril_and_methodius/cyril-methodius-3.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Cyril and Methodius" width="70%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Monument to Cyril and Methodius in Ohrid, North Macedonia. Note that the Latin letter j finishes Methodius's name, instead of the Cyrillic й. This is a remain from the times when North Macedonia was a part of former Yugoslavia, where Latin rather than Cyrillic letters were used for certain Slavic sounds. The people of North Macedonia also pride themselves as being the land where the Cyrillic script was developed, in Ohrid, by one of Cyril and Methodius's disciples</em></p> <p>At that time, the Bulgarian nation was still being formed from the amalgamation of pagan Bulgarians, who mostly controlled the government, a Slav majority, and what had remained of the ancient Thracians. In 863, Prince Boris I adopted Eastern-rite Christianity as a means to unite the constituent groups who prayed to different pagan gods. By the 880s, he had already realised that adopting Christianity from Byzantium had paved the way for unwanted Greek political influence in Bulgaria.</p> <p>When Prince Boris I heard that Cyril and Methodius's disciples had reached his realm, he was quick to summon them to his capital. He realised that the Glagolitic alphabet and use of the Slavonic language in church would be an effective tool against Byzantium. In an ironic twist of fate, Prince Boris used Byzantium's political tool against Byzantium itself.</p> <p>The disciples arrived in Bulgaria in such bad health that only two of them survived the ordeal, but the work of Konstantin in Preslav, and of Kliment in Ohrid, now in North Macedonia, had a dramatic effect. They versed dozens of young boys in the new script, and laid the foundations of Bulgaria's own, Christian culture. Used both in church and by the administration, the Slavonic language bonded the nation.</p> <p>In the first half of the 10th century, Bulgarian scribes replaced the Glagolitic with a simpler alphabet, based on the Greek script. The Cyrillic kept some Glagolitic letters, like the Hebrew borrowings shin, or ש, that had become the ш, and tsade, or צ which was now the ц.</p> <p>Soon Bulgarians started spreading Christianity to other Slavs, like the Russians, using the alphabet to help their mission. Today, the script is used in Bulgaria, Serbia (concurrently with the Latin script), North Macedonia, Ukraine and Russia. Even non-Slavic speaking Romania used it until the early 19th century.</p> <p>The Glagolitic alphabet survived in Croatia for centuries, and was used for religion purposes as late as the 20th century.</p> <p>The achievement of Cyril and Methodius was recognised even by their contemporaries. The Catholic Church celebrates their feast day on 14 February, the day when Cyril died. In 1980, they were declared co-patron saints of Europe. In East Orthodoxy, their feast day is on 11 May. Their disciples also became saints in Bulgaria.</p> <p><img alt="Cyril and Methodius" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V163/cyril_and_methodius/cyril-methodius-2.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Cyril and Methodius" width="70%" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Text in the Glagolitic script at Zagreb Cathedral. In Croatia, the alphabet is also a source of national pride</em></p> <p>In the following centuries, the Cyrillic alphabet became one of the pillars of Bulgarian identity. It proved crucial during the 500 years of Ottoman domination when Bulgarians lacked official institutions of their own and were again threatened with cultural assimilation by the Greeks. Amazingly, in the 18th and 19th century, when many Bulgarians were again being seduced by the more refined Greek culture, the Slavonic alphabet was what saved the nation, 1,000 years after its invention. In the mid-19th century, Bulgarians started to celebrate Ss Cyril and Methodius Day very publicly and with great aplomb. It was one of the first Bulgarian-only days celebrated by Bulgarians, a demonstration of identity and a rallying cry for Bulgarian nationalism.</p> <p>When the Bulgarian state was restored, in 1878, the Day of Ss Cyril and Methodius increased in popularity. It became also a day of Slavonic and Bulgarian literacy and culture, and was marked by openair liturgies followed by mass rallies of school pupils, students and everyone working in education, science and culture.</p> <p>After the 1944 Communist coup, the day remained in the calendar, but changed to fit the new state ideology. The rallies remained, but the liturgies were removed. The "saints" were dropped from the name of the holiday, and it became simply the Day of Cyril and Methodius.</p> <p>Alphabet Day continues to be a major celebration of youth and education in Bulgaria, and Bulgarian schools have their proms around that time. Although the religious holiday is on 11 May, the official institutions and the overwhelming majority of Bulgarians celebrate it in the New Style, on 24 May. In North Macedonia and Russia Ss Cyril and Methodius are also venerated on this date while in Czechia and Slovakia, the feast is on 5 July.</p> <p> </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" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><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, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">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 opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/index.php/archive/issue-163" hreflang="en">Issue 163</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/256" hreflang="en">History</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/257" hreflang="en">Medieval Bulgaria</a> <a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/228" hreflang="en">Religion</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=79&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="y6aSz7f79W3ef0kVx6rk1cOYe5C7yd5fSswe1ijNpr0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 30 Apr 2020 05:50:08 +0000 floyd 79 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/index.php/who-were-cyril-and-methodius#comments