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Monument to Vasil Levski

The monument of Vasil Levski in Veliko Tarnovo was inaugurated in 1946, and it is dedicated to Bulgaria’s most notable war hero.

0054 Monument to Vasil Levski
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
GPS: 43.080725, 25.630217CATION

Vasil Levski (Bulgarian: Васил Левски, spelled in old Bulgarian orthography as Василъ Лѣвскій, pronounced [vɐˈsiɫ ˈlɛfski]), born Vasil Ivanov Kunchev (Васил Иванов Кунчев; 18 July 1837 – 18 February 1873), was a Bulgarian revolutionary who is, today, a national hero of Bulgaria. Dubbed the Apostle of Freedom, Levski theorized and strategized a revolutionary movement to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. Levski founded the Internal Revolutionary Organisation, and sought to foment a nationwide uprising through a network of secret regional committees.

Born in the Sub-Balkan town of Karlovo to middle-class parents, Levski became an Orthodox monk before emigrating to join the two Bulgarian Legions in Serbia and other Bulgarian revolutionary groups. Abroad, he acquired the nickname Levski (“Lionlike”). After working as a teacher in Bulgarian lands, he propagated his views and developed the concept of his Bulgaria-based revolutionary organization, an innovative idea that superseded the foreign-based detachment strategy of the past. In Romania, Levski helped institute the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee, composed of Bulgarian expatriates. During his tours of Bulgaria, Levski established a wide network of insurrectionary committees. Ottoman authorities, however, captured him at an inn near Lovech and executed him by hanging in Sofia.

Levski looked beyond the act of liberation and envisioned a Bulgarian republic of ethnic and religious equality, largely reflecting the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and contemporary Western society. He said, “We will be free in complete liberty where the Bulgarian lives: in Bulgaria, Thrace, Macedonia; people of whatever ethnicity live in this heaven of ours, they will be equal in rights to the Bulgarian in everything.” Levski held that all religious and ethnic groups live in a free Bulgaria and enjoy equal rights. He is commemorated with monuments in Bulgaria and Serbia, and numerous national institutions bear his name. In 2007, he topped a nationwide television poll as the all-time greatest Bulgarian.

Vasil Levski Monument in Veliko Tarnovo

The monument of Vasil Levski in Veliko Tarnovo was opened in 1946. It is located in the central part of the town – on the same street on which the Apostle had passed by for a last time in December, 1872. His figure is presented in full-size, with his hands tied and loop around his neck. In the foundation of the monument is written his most notable thought: 

If I win – a whole nation wins.
If I lose – I lose myself only.

Vasil Levski

Initiator, donor and organizer for the construction of the monument of Vasil Levski in Veliko Tarnovo is Carl Joseph Papoushek (born in Veliko Tarnovo, with Czech origin).

The Hanging of Vasil Levski Poem

“The Hanging of Vasil Levski” is a poem by Bulgarian poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev. Written likely towards the end of 1875 because it is not included in his collection “Songs and Poems.” Printed in “Calendar 1876” under the image of Vasil Levski.

The Hanging of Vasil Levski

O my Mother, dear Motherland
Why weep you so mournfully, so plaintively?
And you, raven, cursed bird –
On whose grave croak you with such a dread?

Ah, I know – I know you’re weeping, Mother
Because you are a dismal slave,
Because your holy voice,
MotherIs a helpless voice – a voice in the wilderness.

Weep! There, near the edge of Sofia town
Stretches – I saw it – a dismal gallows
And one of your sons, Bulgaria
Hangs from it with a terrible power.

The raven croaks dreadfully, ominously
Dogs and wolves howl in the fields,
Old people pray to God with fervor
Women weep, children cry.

Winter croons its evil song,
Gales sweep thistle across the field
|And cold and frost and hopeless weeping
Heep sorrow on your heart.

SizzleMap films created in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria are produced in collaboration with
TAM – Space for Art and Social Initiatives.

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