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Pleven ↓
The town of Pleven (122 149 inhabitants, about 150 metres above sea level) is located in the central part of the Danubian Plain, past the Vit River. It is situated at the distance of 174 km to the north-east of Sofia, 35 km to the north of Lovech, 53 km and 49 km to the north-east of Cherven Bryag and Lukovit, respectively, 146 km to the south-west of Ruse, 55 km to the south-west of Nikopol, 49 km to the west of Levski and at the distance of 76 km to the south-east of Oryahovo. It is a town-pantheon and a regional administrative centre.

History: Pleven has centuries old and rich in events history. It originated in Thracian times on the place of today's park of Kaylaka and it was named Storgoziya, which name was preserved in Roman times as well. After its destruction by the barbarians, the Slavs rebuilt it under the name of Kamenets. A second settlement was set up to the north of it which was named Pleven (from "plevel" which means weed). Later on the two settlements united and they were first mentioned under the name of Pleven in 1266 when the Magyars occupied it. After the 12th century the town developed as a craftsman's and trade centre. The town put up a ferocious resistance to the Turkish invaders and that is the reason for its being destroyed and for its population being slaughtered, expelled and converted to Islam after its downfall. In 1596 Pleven was conquered and set on fire by the Wallachian Voivoda Mihail Vityaz (Hrabri) (the Courageous).

During the 17th and the 18th centuries the Bulgarian population in the town grew in number and took the trade and crafts in their own hands and started to develop its cultural life as well. The town became famous on the Balkan Peninsula and in Anatolia for its market of cattle and sheep (as of 1842). In 1825 a Bulgarian secular school was opened there, in 1840 - the first Bulgarian girls' school was opened by Anastassia Dimitrova and a year later a new boys' school was opened. In 1834 the Saint Nikolai Church was built and in 1845 its iconostasis was made. Dimitur Dospevski and Nikola Obrazopisetsa (the Image Painter) painted the icons. In 1869 a chitalishte (cultural centre and reading-club) was founded in the town, too. In 1871 Pleven had 3101 houses with the population of 17 000 people. On 6th May 1869 Levski set up the first secret revolutionary committee here. The citizens of Pleven took part in the detachments of armed volunteers of Philip Totyu and Hristo Botev.

Pleven became famous most of all with the events, which took place during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878). After the forcing of the Danube River by the Russian troops, their Western squadron headed to that town of strategic importance. The Turkish commandment on its part dislocated the whole garrison of the Vidin Fortress here headed by Osman Pasha, in command of a 40-thousand people army. A system of defensive facilities was built up around Pleven. The Russian forces under the command of Gen. Shouldner, consisting of 7000 people, carried out the first assault of Pleven on 18th June 1877. It was not a success. There were more than 2400 people killed and wounded (against 2000 on the part of the enemy). The second assault was held on 30th July and despite the numerous victims (over 7000 people killed and wounded) was not a success, either. On 11th and 12th September a 100-thousand Russian-Romanian army carried out the third assault orientated at the town. This battle cannot be equalled to any other during the whole war in relation to its large scale and bloodshed. The units of Gen. Skobelev managed to perform a break-through at the Green Hills but the Chief Russian Headquarters did not appreciate the situation well enough and ordered a retreat... 16 000 people killed and wounded on the part of the Russians and the Romanians during the two-day not abating battles.

The outstanding military engineer Gen. Totleben arrived promptly from Russia to organize the blockade of the town. In execution of the blockade related plan, Gen. Gurko conquered the villages located by the road to Sofia - Dolni Dabnik, Gorni Dabnik and Telish, and the knot around the town got tight. Staring from the end of October Russians and Romanians gradually built up a fortifying blockade line. At the beginning of December it reached 50 km. At the same time the situation of the Turkish Army was deteriorated due to hunger, diseases and cold. It was completely isolated, the essential merit for this belonging to the epic battles for defence of the Shipka Pass. There Bulgarians and Russians at the expense of incredible sacrifices and with unseen courage and selflessness stopped the 45-thousand army of Suleiman Pasha heading towards Pleven and did not allow them pass through the Balkan Mountain. On 10th December 1877 Osman Pasha made a desperate attempt to break through the blockade in the region of the Vit River, but suffered a complete defeat and Pleven fell after 5 months of defence at the expense of incredible efforts.

The town quickly grew up after the Liberation. The newly built railway lines Sofia - Varna (Ruse) and Pleven (Yasen) - Somovit - Cherkovitsa greatly contributed to it. Today Pleven is the 7th largest town in Bulgaria.

Landmarks: Almost all landmarks them are related to the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation. About 200 monuments remind to the generations about the most sanguinary battles, which took place here. In the centre of the town there is a Mausoleum-Charnel House dedicated to the Russian and Romanian soldiers killed during the war (5, Vazrazhdane Square, tel.: 064 30033). It was solemnly opened on 16th September 1907 in the presence of General Stoletov (the Commanding Officer of the Bulgarian volunteer forces). The architect of this outstanding monument is Pencho Koychev, and Prof. Ivan Truvnishki made the wood-carved lime-tree iconostasis. The iconostasis was highly acknowledged at the Paris exposition in 1906. Prof. Murkvichka and Prof. A. Mitov painted the icons. The Mausoleum is 24 m high. The Museum of the Liberation of Pleven is not far from there (157, V. Levski Street, tel.: 064 22435).

The Skobelev Park was built up in the south-west part of the town, on a low hill (in the place of the old-time redoubts Isa aga and Kovanluka). Bratskata Mogila (common grave) (which preserves the bones of thousands Russian soldiers) as well as a lot of militant relics of that time is situated among its greenery and lanes. The renowned Pleven Epic 1877 Panorama is situated at the top of the hill, too (tel.: 064 37306), created in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Pleven Epic on analogy of the Borodin Panorama in Moscow. Through its original combination of artistic paintings, sculpture, authentic articles and explanatory texts, it provides for a sufficiently clear idea of the development of the events, especially those related to the third assault of the town.

The Kovanluk second redoubt and the Martvata Dolina (Death Valley) where over 6000 Russian and Romanian soldiers found their death are situated not far from the Skobelev Park. Тhe Totleben rampart in Kaylaka. The Monument to Victory raise on the high hill past the Vit River, and the bridge of the river where the white flag of the defeated Osman Pasha waved is under it.

The Art gallery "Iliya Beshkov" is founded in 1958 as a branch of the Museum of history. Now it is an independent institution with a rich collection of works: paintings, black and white drawings and sculptures. Works of Vladimir Dimitrov "The Master", Dechko Uzunov, Nikolay Pavlovich, Georgi Danchov, Iliya Beshkov, Svetlin Rusev, etc. are kept in the gallery. The gallery exhibits paintings of world famous artists as Rembrandt, Domie, Kathy Kolwitz etc.

Pleven philharmonic orchestra with open opera stage exists for more than 50 years and for this remarkable period has become one of the leading orchestras in Bulgaria. Each year the Philharmonic orchestra performs a lot of concerts in Bulgaria and other European countries and it plays a significant part in the competition for young opera singers. The name of Pleven philharmonic orchestra is related to remarkable Bulgarian and foreign conductors and soloists.

The outstanding exhibition-donation "Svetlin Rusev" was opened in 1984 in an exclusively unique building. One of the most famous artists in Bulgaria - Svetlin Rusev donated to his native town a rich collection of 400 pictures and sculptures from Bulgarian and world famous artists. The standing exhibition offers more than 250 valuable pieces of art.

The cultural life in town has its indisputable priorities - the international music festival "Katya Popova", National competition for Bulgarian drama "Ivan Radoev", National biennale in photography "Fodar", National festival for video films and video production "Artvision", etc.

The chapel-mausoleum "St. George the Victorious" was built in 1907. The bones of Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Belarus, Moldavian soldiers who laid down their lives for Pleven are kept in a crypt. Iconostasis and icons have been made by famous Bulgarian masters.

The unique assembly of nature, archeology and originality of natural reserve in "Chernelka" countryside is one of the preferred places to visit by admirers of nature. The reserve is located around 12 km from Pleven. Stretching along to 7 km, the small river shapes a picturesque Karst canyon with 60 to 200 m width and height of the rock ring 10 to 30 mm. The presence of exclusively specific vegetation and rich fauna explains the reason to declare the area for natural landmark in 1969. There had been discovered valuable archeological finds in the Valley of Chernelka River: images of human, animal and geometrical shapes form bronze epoch, pre-historical drawings, traces of construction dated to IX - XIV century. The visitors are impressed by the pre-historical settlement at the natural rock column "Mechoka", the late ancient and medieval fortress "Gradishte", "Tzarevata peshtera", Roman road, preserved and being used at some sectors till nowadays. The hut "Kapchuka" is a convenient place to rest in the beautiful area. It has 22 beds, dining hall and kitchen,. The forthcoming reconstruction of the building is to make it an attractive tourist place.

The Vodopada cave is situated above 800 m south from the village. It is one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria. It is a water labyrinth, extremely difficult for orientation. The galleries are originally covered by specifically white formations, which come into indescribable sight at the arch brown background. Groveling through the dark underground galleries and labyrinths the springing water goes out the cave and turns into the beautiful Krushuna waterfall with many rapids, water reservoirs and green vegetation. There is no cave for now in Krushuna. The area called Maarata is so beautiful at the waterfall that it is time this country area to be urbanized and prepared for tourist sightseeing there. As only one cave is provided with utilities The Krushuna cave has the possibilities to be the second one.

The natural reserves of Krushuna and Steneto in Pleven region offer great opportunities for eco and spa tourism. They enchant with their incredible natural beauty and phenomena such as magnificent caves, marvelous waterfalls, curative mineral springs and etc. The village of Krushuna is situated 9 km. south of Letnitza. The village is is surrounded by the heights of Stara Planina and only north there is an expanse to the law land of the river Osum. The Krushuna terrain and the near southern surroundings are composed of limestone rocks and karst formations. A big part of the land is occupied of formations of past existing quarries. The village snuggles into the foot of mountains, river meanders and woods south of it make its climate wonderful, the freshness of the woods in summer and the protection against the cold winds in winter.

The town of Lukovit In 1953 in the place of Balana, east from Loukovit, in a big clay vessel, was found a silver treasure. The Thracian silver treasure dates from the second part of 4th century B.C. It contains two groups of objects: attributes for horse equipment 9 vessels. On these attributes there are images of animals: a lion, a dog, a deer, etc. There are images of horsemen, which are very typical for the Thracian art. On the two of the attributes there is portrayed a lion which attack a deer. On the third attribute two horsemen pursue lions, which already reached fell down in the hoofs of the horses. All these scenes of the Thracian art have a particular social meaning and they are connected with the exalt of the king power. The rulers spread the legends about their unusual divine origin and made the ordinary subjects to believe in this and to submit them.

Karlukovo Karts Region The Karlukovo karts region is one of the biggest in Bulgaria. For many people it is a speleology school. No one can say how the caves in this region really are. But some of the bigger holes are marked out. Some people think that the caves in this region are more than 300. The most famous are - Bankovitsa, Svirchovitsa, Biserna, Temnata dupka, Dalbokata. Here can be seen also the remains of two rock churches - "St. Posrebrenitsi" and "St. Marina", and one rock monastery - "St. Grigor". The frescoes of the monastery are unique and can be seen in the National history museum. Nobody can say how much the secrets of the region are in fact. There are a lot of stories and legends. The caves provoke people's curiosity to peep in the other world - the underworld, to find something different, to cross the line between the two worlds. Often the local people tell stories about bottomless precipices and keep the magic alive. In the winter here can be seen very interesting forms from frozen water.

The village of Grivnitsa is situated at a distance of 6 km. east of the town. During the war of Liberation the population of the village and region take active participation. A mausoleum in memory of the killed Romanian soldiers. It is located amongst a spacious park with a lot of monuments. One can go there from the town by train or bus. The town of Pordim is situated at the distance of 21 km. to the east of Pleven. The General Headquarters of the Russian army and of Emperor Alexander the 2nd was located here during the war of Liberation. There is another museum - "Rumanian soldier 1877 - 1878". A regular bus may reach it, too.

A green zone was built up around Pleven about 25 thousand dkas, involving the parks of: "Kaylaka", "General Lavrov", "General Genetski" and others. The village of Valchi Tran is situated at the distance of 22 km. south - east of Pleven, in which the Valchitran gold treasure was found in 1924. In the town of Dolni Dabnik at the distance of 15 km. to the west of Pleven with a lot of monuments from Pleven Epopee. It is the greatest oil field deposit in Bulgaria; natural gas is yielded here too. There are three lakes in its surroundings. They are a favourite place for recreation, water motor sports, water tourism and fishing.

The place "Maarata" stands at the south part of the village - a very charming spot, picturesque foot of the front mountain of Balkan, the high rocks mage a large shoe of the Devetashko plateau. The place is situated in the east part of Devetashko plateau - one of the biggest Karst area of the middle Balkan. From the 30 caves in Bulgaria (more than 1000 m length ) in the Devetashko plateau are situated 5 and 4 of them are in the country land of Krushuna :"Boninska" cave - 2753 m; "Vodopada" - 1995 m; "Urushka maara" - 1600 m; "Gornik" - 1080 m. At less of 1,5% Karst surface are situated about 20% of the longest caves of Bulgaria. Besides low lying karst well developed is the surface karst. It is represented by the enormous surfaces karst fields and more than 800 negative karst formations. This fact defines the big interest to this region.

MINERAL SPRINGS In 1976-1977 in the south eastern part of the village was discovered mineral water with characteristics: flow 16,5 l/sec and temperature 58 C, mineralization 11,5%. The mineral water composition is: flourine - 4 mg, chlorine - 5039.7, bromine - 16.2, iodine - 2.7, sulphates - 2053.4, hydrocarbonate - 189.1, hydrophosphates - traces, ammonium - 14.4, sodium - 3028.3, potassium - 75, magnesium - 228.8, metasilicon acid - 37.4, metaboron acid - 9.6, calcium - 705.8.

The Town Museum of History (3, Stoyan Zaimov Street, tel.: 064 22623, 22691, 23569) is situated in the green zone on the left bank of the Touchenitsa River, not far from the centre. The remarkable monument to the citizens of Pleven who died in the Serbian - Bulgarian War of 1885 is situated in the small garden opposite it. Museum of the Hunters' and Fishermen's Society (15-17, D. Popov Blvd). The Town Art Gallery (75, Doiran Blvd, tel.: 064 38342). Iliya Beshkov Art Gallery (at the beginning of the steps leading to the Skobelev Park, 1, Gen. Skobelev Blvd., tel.: 064 30030, 30090).

There are two theatres in Pleven - Theatre of Drama (155, Vasil Levski St tel.: 064 34376, 22087) and the Puppet Theatre (14, Tsar Simeon Street, tel.: 064 24121, 28807). The unique of its kind Kaylaka Park is situated in the immediate proximity of the town on the south in the valley of the Tuchenitsa River. Sheer rocks, over 20 metres high (here rock climbing races are held), exuberant vegetation, lakes, swimming pools, lanes, recreation corners, sports playgrounds, the eccentric Peshtera (Cave) Restaurant and another tourist infrastructure make it a favourite place for the citizens of Pleven and the visitors of the town. Accommodation: The Pleven Hotel (2, Republika Square). The Rostov Hotel (2, Osvobozhdenie Street). The Balkan Hotel (68, Ruse Blvd.). Garrison Military Club (77, Doyran Street). Kaylaka Tourist House (at the beginning of Kaylaka Park). It offers 70 beds in 5 suites and in 2-, 3- and 4-bed rooms.

Tourist information: at the Council of Tourism (5800 Pleven, 2, Vazrazhdane Square, Municipality of Pleven, tel.: 064 24119, 26229). At Kaylashka Dolina Tourist Association (23A, D. Konstantinov Street, tel.: 064 29014).

Transport: Pleven is a big transport centre. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Veliko Turnovo, Lovech, Troyan, Cherven Bryag, Levski, Knezha and a lot of other big and small settlements. The Central Bus Station (Republika Square, tel.: 064 22961) and the Central Railway Station (6, Republika Square, tel.: 064 23455, 24127, 23843, 31133, 23446, fax: 064 24006) are situated next to each other and are located in the northern end of the town. Pleven is situated on the main railway line Sofia - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Varna (Ruse), and the local railway line for Somovit and Cherkovitsa starts from it, too. There is a town bus and trolley-bus transport functioning in Pleven.
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