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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Monument of freedom

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Freedom Monument (also known as Shipka Monument) is a monumental sculpture on Saint Nikola Peak - a peak in Stara Planina with an altitude of 1326 meters, located east of Shipchenski pass.

Until November 23, 1951, the peak bore the name Saint Nicholas, and then until October 7, 1977 – Stoletov peak. It symbolizes heroism and self-sacrificing efforts for the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.

Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas (Shipka)
Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas (Shipka)

How to get to Freedom Monument?

The monument is located east of Shipchenski pass.

Watch for a turnoff to the right, in case you are moving in the direction from south to north (City of Shipka - City of Gabrovo).

Although you can drive your car to the top, I advise you to take a walk to the top - it is more pleasant. For this purpose, leave your car in the extensive parking lot in the middle of Shipchensky Pass.

Numerous steps have been built that will take you on foot to the top and to the monument.

The monument was erected with the aim of perpetuating the feat of those who fell for the freedom of Bulgaria at the place defended during the Battle of Shipka, around which the decisive battles for the Russo-Turkish War and the Liberation of Bulgaria took place in the summer of 1877.

Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas (Shipka)

The monument is part of Shipka Park-Museum.

The foundation stone of the monument was laid on August 24, 1922, and its construction was completed in 1930.

On August 26, 1934, the monument on Mount Saint Nicholas was solemnly opened by the head of state, Tsar Boris III.

In 1920, the surviving militia veterans gathered at a new congress and decided to build a Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas in Shipchenski pass. The funds for the construction of the monument were collected as voluntary donations from the entire nation. The competition for the monument was won by the architect Atanas Donkov and the sculptor Alexander Andreev, who together with Kiril Shivarov executed the monumental figure of the lion.

Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas (Shipka)

The beginning of the technical studies for the construction and its organization was in the spring of 1926. The construction itself began in the autumn of the same year under the leadership of Eng. Bogdan Goranov, Kiril Slavov and Eng. Ivan Danchov (in 1928 in place of Eng. Bogdan Goranov comes Eng. Mincho Zayakov).

During the first stage of construction, the master craftsman was Iliya Penev Muglov from the village of Gorni Dragoycha, Dryanovsko, and during the second - Penyu Atanasov Kolev (Penyu Bombeto) from the village of Dralfa, Targovishtko. During the summers of 1927, 1928 and 1929, intensive construction activity was in full swing with the participation of craftsmen Zhivko Taskov, Kuncho Kavrakov, Gencho Vakov, Iliya Rashkov, Georgi Ivanov, the brothers Hristo and Georgi Dimitrovi and a dozen other people from Gabrovo.

The stones were processed by hand and transported to the monument by ox carts, and the sand was transported by boats from Maglizh and Enina, on a new road.

The stone tower was completed in rough construction and the brass lion in front of it was cast in the Sofia Military Arsenal according to the design of the sculptor Kiril Shivarov in the summer of 1929, and the construction of the monument was completed in 1930.

According to the original design, the brass lion was to be placed on the monument. With the help of a mock-up on the built tower, made with improvised means, it was found that if the figure were in this place, its visibility would not be good. For this reason, the lion was placed on the cornice above the main entrance of the monument, where it remains to this day.

Freedom Monument on Mount Saint Nicholas (Shipka)

The monument was inaugurated in 1934. It is a large dolomite tower in the shape of a truncated pyramid with a height of 31.5 meters. Above the entrance to the tower stands a huge brass lion 8 meters long and 4 meters high, weighing about 12 tons and assembled from 53 separate pieces, and on the other sides of the tower are written the places of the great battles - Shipka, Stara Zagora and Sheynovo.

Female figure depicting the victory in Freedom Monument on St. Nicholas Peak (Shipka)

A female figure personifies the victory over the Turkish troops.

On the ground floor of the monument stands a large marble sarcophagus, in which some of the bones of the Russian soldiers and the Bulgarian militiamen are kept.

Above it there are four more floors, on which some copies of Bulgarian battle flags and other relics are located.

From the top of the tower there is a wonderful panorama of the peak itself and the surrounding area.

To the south you can see the city of Kazanlak and the Koprinka dam.

The opposite slopes of Sredna Gora are incredibly beautiful!


The Shipka epic includes the battles that took place on the highest points of the Shipka pass, where there are the peaks of St. Nicholas, Orlovo Gnezdo, Shipka and others: the capture of the pass by Russian units First Battle of Shipka, the decisive battles August 9 - 11, 1877 .Second Battle of Shipka and Shipka's Stand.

The Shipchen detachment, which includes the Bulgarian militia, the XXXVIth Oryol Infantry Regiment and the XXXVth Bryansk Infantry Regiment, repulsed a 27,000-strong regular Turkish army, not including the Bashibozic hordes. The Shipchen detachment under the command of Major General Nikolay Stoletov was of 7,500 soldiers and 27 cannons against the Central Ottoman Army under the command of Süleyman Pasha.

The Shipka complex also includes the old restored church. During its restoration, one of the oldest Bulgarian manuscripts was discovered in it - the Enin apostle from the 11th century. Nearby are the settlements of Shipka and Sheynovo, which took an active part in the War of Liberation. The Shipka National Monument begins from these settlements. Near Sheynovo is the Victory Monument. The army of Veisel Pasha was defeated and captured there.

The national monuments at Shipka are linked to events of exceptional public importance. Their construction is the result of the joint efforts of architects, sculptors and the entire grateful Bulgarian people.

The natural sights in the area and the historical events intertwine to become one of the most heavily charged places in Bulgaria, one of the biggest tourist attractions.

The Freedom Monument is among the 100 national tourist sites of the BTS at number 93.

I wish you a pleasant walk!

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