City of military museums
Pleven preserves memories of epic battles from the time of the War of LiberationAdelina Lozanova
The city of Pleven, often called “city of military museums”, is situated in the heart of the Danubian plain in northern Bulgaria. Many landmarks are located here, including St George the Conqueror Chapel Mausoleum, Skobelev Park Museum, Panorama of Pleven Epic - 1877, Museum-house Liberator Tsar Alexander II and others.
The oldest traces of human life in these lands date back to the end of the 5th millennium BC. Numerous archaeological finds are evidence to the high material and spiritual culture of the Thracians, who inhabited this area since ancient times. The biggest gold hoard discovered in Bulgarian lands - the Valchitran treasure - is among them. It consists of 13 cult vessels and weighs 12.5kg in total.
At the beginning of the new era, these lands became part of the Roman Empire and the Roman road station Storgosia appeared near today's Pleven, later becoming a fortress by the same name. The archaeological excavations indicate large-scale construction of administrative, military and religious buildings. One of the most valuable archaeological monuments, preserved to this day, is an early Christian basilica church from the 4th century.
During the Middle Ages, Pleven was a city with well-developed crafts and trade, and this tradition was carried over to the period of the Ottoman rule. During Bulgaria's Revival period, the city was rapidly growing and getting richer. In 1839, the first girls' secular school opened its doors here. In 1869 the Apostle of Freedom, Vassil Levski, created the first revolutionary committee in Bulgaria.
During the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Pleven acquired an extremely important strategic significance. A large Turkish army barricaded itself in the city, which was sieged by the Russian troops. As a result, several months of heavy fighting ensued, which ended with the fall of the city into Russian hands. According to many researchers, this is exactly the point when the outcome of the war was determined.
Today, the city proudly preserves a large part of its historical heritage. The Church of St Nicholai was built in 1834 on the site of a church from the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, which was destroyed in the 14th century. Its iconostasis was made by masters from the Tryavna wood-carving art school. The temple exhibits one of the richest icon collections created by Dimitar Zograf, including 68 icons. The Church of Holy Trinity dates back to the late 19th century, but the columns that support the temple date back to Roman times and have probably been taken from Storgosia.
Another interesting landmark in Pleven is the Museum of Wine which was opened in 2008. It occupies a natural cave in the protected area Kaylaka Park. The museum has two tasting halls, a history hall, a wine cellar that offers wines from all Bulgarian regions, as well as different items related to viticulture and winemaking.