The forest museum of Shipka

The afforestation museum of Shipka

In 1960 in Shipka was established the only one museum of afforestation in Bulgaria. In a restored house, the museum is located in the hearth of the town, in the street Vozheli (along the church and the community center, toward the town hall.) It commemorates the origin of the afforestation works performed along the XXth century throughout Bulgaria. Following tragic events caused by soil erosion and floods, It was indeed in the kazanlak valley that started the successful History of afforestation policies in all the country.

Through a collection of historical photographs and sketches by the painter Ivan Matov, the museum illustrates the damages caused by the erosion phenomena on the Bulgarian mountains slopes throughout the last century. More importantly, It pays tribute to the tremendous volume of work performed by generations of foresters and volunteer workers, with the means of that time, to enable the accomplishment of the afforestation work whose the country needed.

The museum is principally composed of graphical representations dispersed in three rooms. You can see many black and white and color photographs, including the sketches of artist Ivan Matte showing tremendous work of generations of foresters fighting erosion and planting the bare slopes of Stara Planina and the Middle Forest. Reports, documents and authentic artifacts, such as Louis-Marie Vogéli’s camera and photographic plates, are also exhibited.

The nature and History lovers will enjoy the detour.

Pictures from the museum ; Illustration of the afforestation in the slopes located above the town of Shipka (Pictures of the town in 1902, 1924 and 1999)

From the end of the XIXth century, the consequences of a long process of deforestation linked to human activities (Overgrazing, logging and numerous battles of the Russia-Turkey war) appeared in a sharp and tragic way. The soil erosion in the south slopes of the Balkan range reached such a magnitude that each heavy rain led to severe floods and landslides, striking the villages settled nearby the downward side of the mountains. While the Kazanlak Valley is far from being the only one area of the country affected by the erosion and floods, these catastrophic events have raised a national awareness about the role of the forests, fighting against erosion and  protecting human settlements in mountain regions.

Alerted by the inhabitants of the valley, the Bulgarian authorities asked for help to the French government. In April 1905, the French forestry engineer Félix Vogeli was dispatched in Kazanlak. He has been living in Shipka during six years. As a founder of the erosion control activities in Bulgaria, he led to the creation of the “Torrent Stabilization and Forestation Office” of Kazanlak, the first of the country. With other Bulgarian pioneers foresters, he participated in the education of a first generation of forestry ingeneers in Bulgaria. The Shipka’s Museum pays tribute to his works as the genesis of an extraordinary mobilization of the country for the afforestation.

The museum is open only on request. For a visit, please contact Mr . Kancho Kurumilev, phone no. 0431/ 6 47 76, email: dgskazanluk@uidp-sliven.com

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