[DAY2 pt.1] Stara Zagora Defenders of 1877

As we came to Stara Zagora well after midnight, we didn’t see much of the city, only the main street. Waking up after a long night of wondering around military bases, we honestly didn’t know what to expect from this city.

Stara Zagora Monument 1877

Defenders of Stara Zagora.

As you look around during daytime, one massive monolithic monument stands out from the rest of the city – at least we won’t have trouble finding our goal here. Now that I think about this in retrospective, all of the monuments are deliberately placed so that you can’t miss them. All of the surrounding architecture is fairly low, and this sticks out like a flag in the city mass making sure that none of the citizens forget the sacrifice of over 14,000 soldiers who lost their lives in an abortive 1800’s military campaign for the city.

Stara Zagora Monument 1877

Massive monument upfront.

The memorial to “Stara Zagora Defenders of 1877” is dedicated to the battles for Stara Zagora from 31 July 1877, during the Russian-Turkish Liberation War. The Memorial was inaugurated in 1977, commemorating the centennial anniversary of the event.

“On July 31st, 1877 during the opening salvos of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War, a force consisting of Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers from the surrounding towns took on a far superior Turkish force. Despite a pitched six-hour engagement, the Russian-Bulgarian front surrendered to the Turkish fighters. Over the three days following the surrender, the city of Stara Zagora was put to the torch, and in the end of the whole incident, an estimated 14,500 local citizens had been killed.”

Stara Zagora Monument 1877

The day of our visit, volunteers were cleaning up the nature around the monument.

The brutalist monument stands over 15m tall and sees a giant Russian officer embedded in stone pillars alongside six Bulgarian volunteer fighters which represent the six units that joined the Russians that day.

While browsing the internet for facts, I realized that everyone is saying that the monument is in decay and surrounded by trash. While we were on site, there was a gathering of volunteers that clean the surrounding and take care of the monument – seems all is not so grey in the future.

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