Sunday, 21 June 2015

A Hidden Sanctuary

Well here we are on the day of the Summer Solstice,the longest day of the year. It is also widely regarded as the first day of Summer. For many of us fortunate enough to live here in Bulgaria, it can also see the steady flow of friends and family coming over for visits.If these friends and family have previously visited, you might want to share something slightly more unusual with them. Maybe something slightly magical, maybe even something slightly mystical? After all, holidays are a wonderful time to gather and store lasting memories.

Perhaps something like the mystical wonder of Stonehenge? I consider myself lucky enough to be of an age when Stonehenge wasn't ringed by fences. You used to be able to wander between the stones themselves, and I distantly remember that there used to be a photograph of me, with my Grandparents,and I was sat on the altar stone. Nowadays it is a much more popular destination, so to preserve it for future generations the fencing was installed. Unfortunately that means that apart from special occasions you can't get up close to the stones,and so people miss out on sensing the mystical aura surrounding these stones. Wouldn't it be ideal if there was something similar which could be enjoyed in the Bulgarian sunshine, rather than the dampness of Salisbury Plains?

If you find yourself on the Black Sea coast near to Burgas, I might have a solution for you.It is a place known as Beglik Tash,and lies between Burgas and Primorsko (15 minutes drive), on the Maslen Cape. It was only rediscovered in 2003, when trees were being cleared in the area, as more trees were cleared the size and importance of the site gradually became clearer. Now as an open air museum, it is maintained by the Burgas Regional Museum and the Burgas Historical Society.

There are sign posts directing you to a small dirt car park, but from there you have a walk through the trees to reach the site. So sensible footwear is recommended. It is situated on a wide meadow, within the woods. As there is a boggy area fairly close by, the various biting insects are normally out in force, so insect repellent is advisable unless you fancy being on the menu for an extended family of mosquitoes, gnats, midges and deer flies. Watch where you put your feet and hands, as it is not unusual to see various reptiles basking.

The rocks and boulders are volcanic in origin, and are formed from hardened magma. The volcano erupted about the same time that Dinosaurs roamed the Earth, in what is called the Mesozoic Era, so it has been extinct for a good few years. Even though the elements have rounded and softened the rocks, the larger megaliths still have traces of the original carvings. Beglik Tash is widely regarded as the oldest Thracian megalithic sanctuary found in South Eastern Bulgaria. With more than a third of Bulgaria still covered by forests there is no telling what other mysteries remain to be discovered.

It is thought that it was used for about 1000 years, from the 14th Century BC, until the 4th Century AD. The area was settled by a Thracian tribe called the Skirmiani. Various finds have indicated that this site was used by the Thracians in the worship of the Mother Goddess, or fertility. The site was used both ritualistically and sacrificially. The total area is spread over about 6 hectares, with the main sanctuary comprising the large central area, with two smaller areas off of this. The large stones were worked on site, and positioned by hand. On some of the flatter rocks you will see water channels, circular holes and even large footprints.

The remains of a labyrinth can also be seen, such as the slit pictured opposite. Some locals claim that the site has mystical powers, which are to do with the temple dedicated to Orpheus.It was said that the music and singing of Orpheus could charm the birds, fish and wild beasts, and also coax the trees and rocks to dance. Perhaps this might explain some of the positions you will see the rocks in.

Some of the highlights you will see include 'The Throne', from where the Thracian high priest would conduct the various ceremonies. Then there is 'The Marital Bed', a large central stone surrounded rocks, with various carved pits which were possibly used during rituals, so maybe it was even the sacrificial altar. There is a 'Sacred Cave' formed by rocks, and symbolises the womb of Mother Earth. Another highlight popular with tourists, is the sun clock. There is normally a guide available, or you can choose to do your own thing. Either way you can soak up the mystical energies from this amazing place. Unlike Stonehenge you can still wander through, over and under the stones. Hopefully this has piqued your curiosity, and you will take the time to search out this place, as it is slightly off of the beaten track.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

There and Back Again Again

Once upon a time I used to drive backwards and forwards to Sofia airport. That was until someone suggested getting one of the regular buses, which can save a lot of potential hassle. Even something as simple as that can cause logistical problems when you have a temperamental car. The first thing was to sort out the bus tickets, so that meant a trip over the hill into VT. Now as luck would have it my better half was booked into the hairdressers, so rather than me hanging around I thought that would be an ideal time to kill two birds with one stone. So I went off in search of a taxi driver. As luck would have it he spoke a little English too. So not only was I able to get the required bus tickets, but I was also able to arrange an early morning pick up. I know that I could have booked the tickets online, but I prefer to actually have them in my grubby little hands. Parking in VT isn't ideal at the best of times, so we thought a better solution would be to park in Gorna, and then get the taxi over the hill again. A couple of days before the trip I phoned the taxi driver just to confirm the arrangements, so if you ever get to read this many thanks Paco.

Come the day of the races, or the airport trip, it was an early start. It was so early that even the alarm clocks for the crickets and frogs hadn't woken them up yet. The dogs and cats weren't very impressed at their early wake up calls either, but an early breakfast and they forgot all about it. So with the menagerie sorted out, we had time for a last minute check of things, and that all important coffee. Those that live out here will be aware of the bit of weather that we have been having recently, thunderstorms and a bit of wind. Out here in the back of beyond that often means we get fog early in the morning, so we thought that it might be prudent to leave slightly earlier than planned.

It turned out to be quite a wise move, as not only did we have fog, but the wind had also brought branches down in the road. The car did behave itself though, until I had almost reached my planned parking area. Only then did she throw a wobbly and decide to have a tantrum. I have no idea what is wrong with it, the mechanic has had the diagnostic thingie on it and he is none the wiser. Filters have been changed, the tank has been emptied and cleaned, the fuel pump has been changed, various sensors also changed. If we let her cool down she is fine so it is something temperature related. The most important thing was that we got to where we wanted to be. Paco picked us up just as the dawn was breaking, and took us to the bus stop. The little cafe was just opening, which was fortunate as they also have loos there. Always an important consideration, even if they could have benefited from an air freshener or three. Another coffee was in order to try and dispel memories of the aromatic facilities. The old lady behind the counter was a lovely person, and seemed a little surprised that two half asleep Brits could mumble almost coherently in Bulgarian with her. She even wanted all of my change.

Even while we were stood outside drinking our coffees, waiting for the bus, we were chatting with a young Bulgarian woman in a mixture of languages. It turned out that she had been working as a Nanny not that far from where I grew up. Not only is it a small world, but it seems to be shrinking. Unlike last time, this didn't seem to be the quiet bus, which was lucky for the driver as he spent the whole trip nattering with his mate. The sun was rising in the sky, and the day was warming up, and the fog was turning to mist before disappearing totally. Meanwhile the temperature in the bus was getting warmer and warmer. How nice of him to have the heating on so that we all arrived in Sofia part cooked, but he did get us there slightly early. The usual taxi hawkers were there inside the bus station, and we had a choice, we could either attempt the Metro system or get a taxi to the airport.

The taxi was the better idea as we didn't know how long the journey would take on the Metro, and looking at the traffic it seemed to be rush hour. The taxi driver we had must have been a retired racing driver, as every space between cars ahead was a challenge. Or perhaps he used to work on the dodgem cars at an old fair ground. Eventually we arrived at the correct terminal, if I hadn't pointed out he was lining up to take us to the wrong one, we could have been treated to the grand tour. With my good lady wife safely checked in and through passport control and customs, I now had the journey back to look forward to.

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about using the Metro as an alternative option for getting to and from the airport, and now was my chance to try out my own information. The first thing that I had to do was find the shuttle bus, did it leave from the arrivals or departure area? I eventually noticed it, as it was leaving from the departure terminal bit. It had been cunningly concealed behind some form of press interview/scrum which was taking place. There now seems to be extra bollards all over the place, preventing a lot of vehicular access, so where the marked bay should be it might not be able to get to it now. Not to be outdone I thought that I would once again take my life in my hands and get a taxi round to terminal 2. If you get one of the OK Supertrans taxis from outside the terminal they will charge you a flat rate of 10 Leva to go between terminals. I didn't mind as I was on a mission, and it also gave me a chance to try something new. The good thing was that I wasn't tied by time, so I could have waited for the next shuttle bus. However terminal 2 held the promise of coffee and loos, probably in that order of priority, so a taxi it was. At least this taxi driver didn't think that he was Ayrton Senna reincarnated, as the trip between terminals was rather sedate compared to the earlier journey.

The first thing that struck me was how clean the Metro station looked. The second thing was the drunk man slumped against the wall being spoken to by the Police, perhaps the world's underground stations are a natural habitat for them. The lady in the kiosk was pleasant and helpful when I got my ticket. So ticket in hand I went round the corner to get onto the platform. There are automatic barriers which you have to use your ticket to pass through, so once I fed the right end in the gates opened and i was on the platform. Everything was clearly laid out, with an information board indicating I only had to wait 4 minutes for the next train. It was on time, clean and only suffering from a couple of bits of internal graffiti, which made a pleasant change from London's underground. At the moment there are only the 2 underground lines M1 and M2, with plans for a 3rd in the near future.

Even on the train you get plenty of information about which station you are arriving at, and which station will be next. They even tell you if you need to change trains. All done in both Bulgarian and English, which is very helpful when you have been awake since daft o'clock. At Serdika station I had to change to get onto the M2 line. That wasn't that clear until I noticed people scuttling away to the side of the stairs, and then I noticed a sign saying M2. Down a few stairs to the main concourse above the platforms. There are lifts there for anyone with heavy suitcases or slight mobility problems. On the concourse you are faced with a choice of platforms, one says to Lozenets and the other to Obelya. I could see a map down at the platform level so I headed for the busiest platform which was the Lozenets one. I was still trying to decipher the map when the train arrived. So following the masses I got on it, and you've guessed it, it was the wrong direction. So I got off at the next station, the Palace of Culture (NDK), and got on the next train going in the right direction. Three stops later and I was at the Central Railway Station. Then it was just a case of following the exit signs, they even point you towards the Central Bus Station too.

Into the bus station to buy a ticket back to VT and then outside to wait for the next bus, to take me on the next leg of my round trip. The bus journey itself was fairly uneventful, apart from the fact that I was getting pretty knackered by then. I think I must have been suffering from nodding dog syndrome, or my neck had suddenly been made from elastic. I couldn't even focus on my book. I did try to sleep, but I'm sure that every time I was just about to nod off the driver went through a ploughed field, or the wheels resembled the old threepenny bits (which some of us are old enough to remember).

Back into VT and I was in dire need of another coffee. I even used the facilities again which would be enough to wake a narcoleptic from their slumbers. Fortunately I remembered to hold my breath. Another taxi back over the hill to the car, which was conveniently parked in the shade, so everything had cooled down and stayed cool. A little bit of shopping and it was time for the final leg of the journey, and home. The only problem being that the roads had heated up during the day, and the air was very humid as though another thunderstorm was approaching. I stopped halfway home to let the engine cool, but when the clouds began to gather and darken I decided to push on. As sure as eggs are eggs, with the first rumble of thunder the car threw another wobbly. So there was nothing to do apart from wait until things had cooled down enough to actually get me home. As luck would have it I was home, and had packed the shopping away, and sorted the animals out before the heavens opened once more. One day we will actually discover what is causing this problem with the car, but it only happens during the summer. Thank heavens for buses, taxis, and the Metro.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Mysterious Bulgaria

Bulgaria is an old country, and as you might expect it is rich in history, traditions and folklore. They are all around you, from the major cities to the smallest of villages, and sometimes where you least expect. Through writing these blogs, I often so plenty of research, which might surprise some. All too often I have to admit that I do get sidetracked, when one little gem or another piques my curiosity. Sometimes these get filed away for use another day, then others are only ever a paragraph maybe two if I am lucky. Some of you reading this might never have been to Bulgaria, but I consider myself lucky enough to actually live here, and I get to see and do so much which might otherwise have eluded me.

Take for example the Trakia Highway (named after the historical region of Thrace), also known as route A1. It links Sofia and Burgas, via Plovdiv. Possibly not much of interest there you might think, but you would be surprised. If you travel from Sofia, after about 55km you will pass through a tunnel known as the Gate of Trajan tunnel (Тунел Траянови врата). You might wonder why it has such a name, but in days gone by the old roads and tracks passed through a mountain pass as it followed part of the course of the River Yavoritza. This pass was of strategic importance as it was one of the few means of getting between the lowlands of Sofia and the Upper Trakia valley.

As such it has been well guarded by whoever was in control of that area. from the times of the Thracians. It wasn't until the times of the Romans that a permanent fortress was built, to house a garrison to guard this important pass. Many believe that it was on the orders of the Emperor Trajan himself, and originally it was called Stipon. Today the remains of this fortress can still be seen. These remains are on a hill overlooking the pass, some 600 metres from the tunnel. The ruins are quite small, some 60 metres by 40 metres, but plenty of the stone and brick walls can be seen. You can imagine the guard towers looming over the pass, and the many rooms held within the fortress, It wasn't until the mid 1970s for any real archeological excavations to take place. Various surprises were found, for example a tunnel was discovered just inside the gate area, leading down to the river. So the Romans had an 'easy' means of water supply, and this tunnel would have been constructed at the same time as the fortress itself. There is always something to be said for planning ahead.

Perhaps the best known battle for the pass happened during medieval times. This happened between the Byzantine army of Emperor Basil II, and Bulgarian forces led by Tsar Samuil. It effectively prevented any further incursions through the pass into the West of Bulgaria. Effectively the Byzantine forces were routed during the battle of 17th August 986. For 7 years Bulgarian forces held the pass against repeated attacks. Move ahead 500 years or so, and the winter of 1443/4 saw Wladyslaw III of Poland lead his crusaders against the Ottoman Empire. He reached the 'Gates of Trajan' in his initial campaign, but realising the difficulty in capturing this pass the following year he moved his forces through the Northern part of Bulgaria. Then during the war of Independance (1877/8) Ottoman forces dug trenches in the area, as they prepared to face a decisive battle against the Russian army. Maybe it was because of panic, or at least disorganisation, the Ottoman forces withdrew to Pazardzhik before the battle began.

Being a main route through the mountains, this area was often plagued by bandits. During the Byzantine and Ottoman occupations even the garrisons stationed there failed to control them. A few local villages (Klissura and Vetren) were given partial tax exemption during the Ottoman occupation, in the hope that they would prove more successful in preventing these attacks by the bandits. Nothing really worked, and people began to make a detour through Momin Prohod, Kostenetz and Belovo. Effectively abandoning the pass to the bandits. However, that is not the end of the interesting things that I have learnt about this area.

In the years before the archeological excavations began, the villagers of Gorno Varshilo and Dolno Varshilo would pass by the ruins as they took their produce to the city markets. As dusk began to fall, any villagers near the fortress remains began to hear strange hissing noises. Villagers the whole world over are quite a superstitious bunch, and soon they began to believe that they were hearing Samovilas, or Samodivas. These are beings from Bulgarian and Romanian folklore. The Romanians refer to them as Lele's.

These beings are said to inhabit the mountains and forested areas, and are of an unearthly beauty. They have the power to bring drought, burn crops and give livestock a high fever. When angered they can fly and fling fire at enemies. Somewhat similar to the Harpies of Greek myths. They have a hostile and dangerous attitude towards people, but any man who gazed on a Samovila would become obsessed by her beauty, and chase her relentlessly. Women faced with such beauty would kill themselves. Fortunately these creatures are nocturnal, but any villager passing near the 'Gates of Trajan' was always very careful to not offend these beings. After the excavations the odd noises and hissing stopped. Many think that a partially blocked tunnel was to blame, with the change in air pressure as the day cooled.

For any further reading about this area you could always try this book by Miho Chervenkov about the City Kostenetz and the surrounding area.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Village Sounds

I always used to think that village life would be quiet and peaceful. However, the longer that we have lived here, the less I find that that is the case. You just have to stop and listen, and you will soon hear that it is not quite as quiet as you might imagine. I am not complaining, as the majority of sounds are made by nature, rather than by mankind. If you will bear with me I will take you through an average day, starting with the sun just rising. As we are in a rural setting we have plenty of woodland and lakes surrounding us, so the village is a constant hive of activity for bird life amongst other things. Now that the weather is warming up, each day is greeted with the dawn chorus, rather than the birds being huddled up in their nests, coughing and sneezing.

It doesn't take long for the various Cockerels to start crowing, and as soon as one starts another one tries to outdo it. They carry on throughout the day, as they try and keep an eye on their gaggle of hens. Then there are the various Geese, Ducks and Turkeys which have also been roused into wakefulness. Occasionally you can also hear the odd Pheasant or two, coughing away at the edges of the village. The villagers are soon up and about, sorting out their livestock, and getting children ready to meet the school bus. The children must still be half asleep as I never hear them first thing in the morning. Dogs soon begin to appear on the village streets, I can only assume that they belong to people as come the evening they have all disappeared again.

The morning continues to warm up, and goats and sheep are taken to the shepherds who then take these larger flocks out to various bits of pasture. I am always amazed when they return, as they all know where they live once they get back into the village. People just stand at their gates to hold them open as their animals return. There are no barking dogs, no shouting, just the gentle clanking and clonking of various bells. Every so often one adventurous goat might take a fancy to a choice bit of vegetation, but a stern "Haide" and they are off to catch the others up on their return journey home.

Once the livestock, and children, have been sorted out people can then start on their own daily bits and pieces. More often than not this will involve tending their gardens. So above the hum and drone of bees visiting flower beds and blossom, you might hear the odd word or two or a radio being played. What we do often hear though are two shy visitors. Every so often you might see a flash of yellow flying between trees, this will be the Golden Oriole, but it has a very melodic call. The other is the Cuckoo, definitely not so melodic, but always a pleasure to hear, even if it is bad at telling the time. Whoever heard of 27 o'clock? Some villagers don't seem to have a working volume control, and any conversation is carried out at one level, loud. I am sure that these could hold a conversation between them selves from one end of the village to the other.

If there is work to be done in the fields, old asthmatic tractors are fired up and off they chug. There are a couple of newer ones, but the old faithfuls do keep going, even if they do look like they are held together with bits of wire and recycled bits. Nothing seems to be wasted, even if it can no longer be used for its intended purpose, it will be given a new lease of life when it becomes incorporated into something else. Eventually even old tractors have to die, but some of their parts still live on. There always seems to be someone tinkering away, elbow deep in the guts of an old tractor. So rather than everything having a use, it seems as though everything has a multitude of uses, it all depends on how far along the timescale it has got.

We often get wood lorries growling their way through the village. Many appear to be ex-military, and have definitely seen better days. Like the old tractors they keep on going, often only on a wing and a prayer. Then there are the recycled rotavators, which will putter along, towing a trailer. It might be quicker to walk, but in the Summer heat no one wants to rush anywhere. The quietest time in the village seems to be between 1 and 4 in the afternoon, which coincides with the hottest part of the day. We are often sat up under the barn then, reading and just letting the sounds of nature wash over us.

Life seems to pick up a notch with the imminent return of the school bus. Parents and Grandparents go to meet the youngsters, and take the opportunity to sit and have a natter and catch up with each other. Pretty much the same the world over, although what happened in EastEnders, Coronation Street, or Britain's Got Talent might not feature highly on the list of village interests. Its nice to hear the children playing, laughing and shouting when they get off of the bus. At least here children are allowed to be children, and once they have done their chores they are allowed out to play again. They seem to do whatever homework they have in the early evening, before turning in for the night.

As the sun sinks lower on the horizon the chorus of Blackbirds, Starlings and Sparrows picks up from where it left off in the morning. The Swifts, Swallows and Martins do their bit for mankind by eating as many mosquitoes, gnats and midges that they can before calling it a night. The fading light doesn't mean that there is a cessation of noise however. It just gets passed on to something else. Often I seem to be followed by a cloud of whining, biting bugs as I finish off watering the garden, so there are the slaps accompanied by vaguely muttered swear words. We also get a Jay which sits up in one of the Walnut trees laughing at me, if I get my hands on it it won't be laughing any more.

The warmer weather has woken up a numerous amount of field crickets, much to the cats enjoyment as they seem to feel that they need to be hunted. From the remaining crickets there is that constant chirruping in the background. In a few weeks time they will be joined by the tree frogs. Sometimes it sounds almost tropical living here, thankfully we don't have quite so many nasty beasties living here.
After having eaten their fill of crickets our cats seem full of energy, and will play fight between themselves. Heaven help any strange cat which dares to venture into their garden, as they will gang up on it and have a full on scrap. The cats fighting will even drown out the sound of the local frog and toad population. From around the lakes, and beside the stream they can be heard, croaking, booming and chuckling. This will carry on throughout the night, and at times it sounds like a constant hum, similar to what you used to hear if you stood beneath a power pylon.

Finally, you can lull yourself  off to sleep by listening to various Bats, Owls and Nightingales. During the Spring and Autumn we sometimes hear Foxes having a nose round the village. It is easy to trace their path, as the sound of village dogs barking follows them. Then in the Winter there are the Jackals up in the woods, the colder the Winter the closer they will come to the village.

Maybe with Paisii being in a small valley up on top of the hills, sounds might be a little more enclosed and tend to echo a little, but if you listen it is always full of life. This village life certainly might not be as quiet as I once imagined it, but I wouldn't want to swap it.    

Sunday, 12 April 2015

April Uprising 1876

As we are now in April, there seems no better time than now to write about the April uprising (Априлското въстание) of 1876. At a meeting of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee, held in November of 1875, it was decided that the time was right to start preparing for a general uprising. To that effect Bulgaria was divided up into five revolutionary districts. These were centred in Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo, Sliven, Plovdiv and Sofia. However the revolutionary committees of Sofia proved ineffective. To combat this the centre for region IV was moved from Plovdiv to Panagyurishte, so that both regions could be overseen from there.

Somehow the Ottoman rulers got wind of a meeting of the sub-committees within the 4th district, and the Ottoman police arrested the leader of the Koprivshtitsa local revolutionary committee, Todor Kableshkov. Armed rebels attacked and surrounded the police headquarters, where Kableshkov was being held effecting his release. This led to the rebellion being proclaimed two weeks ahead of schedule, and soon the rebellion spread throughout the Sredna Gora region, and various other towns and villages within the north-western Rhodopes. Kableshkov is claimed to have sent a letter to the headquarters of the 4th Revolutionary council, proclaiming the revolt. He signed the letter in the blood of the slain Ottoman governor, hence it is often referred to as the 'Bloody Letter'.

Since the plans were made for the uprising, villagers throughout the regions were building up stockpiles of arms and ammunition. These included wooden cannon, which were made from cherry and elm wood bound by iron. As it would be impractical for the 4th district to foment rebellion throughout the whole area, it was passed on down to sub-committees to charge trusted citizens to undertake this task. So rather than using a broad brush to paint the picture I shall focus on one area. That area is Bratsigovo, as that played quite a significant part in these uprisings. In this town a local man, Vasil Angelov Petleshkov, was given the task of coordinating the rebellion in that area, by Georgi Benkovski the head of region IV. But who was this man, in whom such trust had been placed?

He was born in Bratsigovo on January 14th 1845, and was the son of Catherine and Nayden Velchev. Unfortunately his father died while he was still very young, and so his mother Catherine remarried. She married another local man, called Angel Petleshkov, who adopted the young boy. Young Vasil travelled to Constantinople, or what is now known as Istanbul, to study as a Pharmacist. On qualifying he returned to Bratsigovo, where he worked tirelessly for the cultural advancement of the local population. In 1874 he founded the local library and community centre, 'Trandafil', and he became its chairman. It was during this time that he devoted himself to help free the struggling population from oppression.

Once news of the revolt reached Panagyurishte, he made straight for Bratsigovo, and announced that the long awaited rebellion had begun. The villagers armed themselves and set about guarding the approach roads to the town. They successfully repelled several skirmishes by Ottoman troops and irregulars. Bravely they fought against insurmountable odds, aware that they couldn't hope for any help from outside. They could only rely on themselves and their families. Elsewhere the rebellion was being put down with unwarranted savagery, most notably in Batak, but still they fought. For almost a week they lasted, inflicting casualties on their oppressors, but such victories were short lived.

Enemy numbers were increasing, and on the 16th day they overwhelmed the town's defences. Vasil spent several days in hiding as enemy forces tried to capture the rebellion leaders. Many claim that it was Vasil's step-father who gave up his step-son's hiding place to the Ottomans. Whether that is true or not has faded into history, perhaps it was simply to prevent any more bloodshed. Being a pharmacist Vasil managed to take poison before he was captured. Unfortunately it wasn't fast acting, and he had to endure a cruel torture at the hands of the Ottomans.

He was taken to the edge of the town where his body was tied to a stake, which was placed between two fires. These fires were then lit. Still the poison hadn't fully acted on him. As the fires were fanned, and burning hotter and hotter, he spoke his final words, "I am alone, there are no others. I led, I commanded. Look for no others." He died on may 8th 1876. His body was later found in meadows outside of the town, he had also been bayoneted several times.

How successful was the April Uprising? For one thing it did highlight, to the Western world, the atrocities that the Ottomans had used to suppress the rebellion. In short maybe this helped to focus public opinion from outside, which in turn maybe they saw the forced removal of the Ottoman yoke as a justifiable act. Would this understanding have happened were it not for the sacrifices that such men made throughout Bulgarian history? One good thing that I have found is that Bulgarians do not lightly forget their national heroes. Their lives live on through history lessons taught in schools, roads, stadia and schools are proudly named after them, and their statues can be found all over the country. Their houses are preserved as museums, and some even make it on to stamps.