The Shipka Monument of Freedom

The Shipka Monument of Freedom

If you are lucky with the weather and you are on the right position on the road from Kazanlak to Shipka, there is another tower-like monument you can have a glimpse on if your eyes follow to the direction of Shipka pass, on the left side of Bouzludja. There are around 12 km of distance between both monuments.

First would be essential to write some things about the Bulgarian history in the end of the 19th century. As many of you probably know, Bulgaria has been under the Ottoman occupation for 500 years. During the years 1877-1878, had occurred the four battles for the liberation of Turkish yoke. On one side was the Russian Empire who joined the forces with Bulgarian volunteers called Opalchentsi and on the other side, the Ottoman Empire.

The decisive moment was in August 1877 at the Shipka peak, when 5.000 Russian soldiers united with 2.500  Opalchentsi repulsed around 40.000 strong Ottoman army. The last battle was fought between 5-9 of January 1887, with the result of final defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The official day of the Bulgarian liberation happened on the 3rd of March in 1887 with San Stefano Peace Treaty.

At the top of the Shipka peak (1326 m) in Stara Planina mountains was constructed the Shipka Monument (also called Freedom Monument) in honor to all the Russian and Bulgarian troops who died for the liberation of Bulgaria. The inauguration of the monument took place in 1934.

The monument is an impressive 32 m high tower with the shape of truncated pyramid. Above the entrance of the tower, there is located a huge bronze lion and at opposite side are inscribed sites of the major battles; Shipka, Stara Zagora and Sheynovo. On the ground of the memorial there is a big sacrophagus with bones of the Bulgarian volunteers and the Russian soldiers. In the other floors there are various objects, relics and flags related to the battles. Nowadays the tower serves as a museum.

The monument is accessible by car from the Shipka pass (the road between Kazanlak and Gabrovo) or directly from the road which goes from Bouzludja monument towards Gabrovo. There are also some hiking paths you can use – there is one from Bouzludja monument and another one from the Shipka Monastery in the town of Shipka.

Image result for shipka monument

If you go to the monument on the 3rd of March, be prepared to meet a lot of people (the only day you will see so many people in Shipka) as it is the national day of celebrating the Bulgarian independence. Lots of people go for a hike to the peak on that day, or attempt to approach it by bus as the road is closed for cars on the day.