Bulgarian PM, Azerbaijan's First Lady Unveil Renovated Historical Site
A renovated medieval fortress was inaugurated in the old Bulgarian capital, Veliko Tarnovo, on Thursday, in a project funded by an Azerbaijani foundation.
The First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, whose Heydar Aliyev Foundation provided BGN 2.5 M in investment for the project (more than a third of its overall budget), was the special guest of the ceremony also attended by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The Trapezitsa fortress, opening to tourists on Friday, had long been neglected, with lack of proper funding to restore sections of its fortress walls, to maintain its cultural heritage and make it more-tourist friendly.
In a few years' time, the infrastructure around it was overhauled, three medieval churches on Trapezitsa were repaired (including original frescoes inside), and some 200 meters of the so-called Western fortress wall were restored.
A 1-km alley was created for tourists moving around the site that links a newly-built Furnicular with the churches and the Southern Tower of the fortress.
The street at the foot of Trapezitsa was renovated, with a Furnicular station and a parking added. The railtrack in particular was built with EU funding, alongside the decorative illumination of the historical buildings and walls.
The investment from Azerbaijan, the first-of-a-kind in Eastern Europe coming from this particular country, was agreed as President Ilham Aliyev was on a visit to Bulgaria last year.
"Nothing is as obvious to people as when a Muslim country builds churches in Bulgaria, while we as Christians support mosques. This is where the strength of the world lies - in diversity of cultures, and if we learn to live together in piece, there won't be any wars, but only prosperity," Borisov's press service quotes him as saying.
"There is a strong strategic partnership between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan and this is seen on many levels," Ms Aliyeva said for her part.
"I am sure that the present project will contribute to the development of bonds between the two countries. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for overseeing everything and helping us in every aspect," she noted.
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