Mount Freedom

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Bulgaria: Mount Freedom At least once a year, everyone remembers the monument and some even climb the 894 stairs that lead to the historical peak. Photo by BTA

Events that took place on this hill almost 130 years ago have inspired many a poems, the best and most moving one being Ivan Vazov's classic "Epic of the Forgotten". Today, it is still one of the main symbols of Bulgaria's fight for liberation and hundreds will gather there on March 3, to bow their heads in memory of those who fought for the country's freedom.

By Petya Sabinova

The mount of Shipka has always evoked feelings of pride among Bulgarians, although lately it became a cause of shame, when it was twice desecrated and robbed by people who wanted to sell its copper ornaments for scrap. Once a year, on March 3, everyone remembers the monument and some even climb the 894 stairs that lead to the historical peak. People often say that those who haven't climbed these stairs at least once are not truly Bulgarians at heart.

The fierce battle that took place at the mount of Shipka took the lives of hundreds and, as the poem goes, the desperate Bulgarians, were besieged at the peak for three whole days as the Turks were closing in on them. They ran out of ammunition and after they had thrown every rock in sight at the attacking hordes, the rebels took a desperate move - they started throwing the dead bodies of their friends. This shocked the Turks and the Bulgarians managed to hold off the peak until their allies came.

This victory later inspired people to donate the money for building the 31.5-meter-high monument. It was designed by architect Atanas Donkov and sculptor Alexander Andreev. Its official unveiling in 1934 gathered thousands.

A bronze lion keeps guard of the entrance to the monument along with a statue of a woman who symbolizes the victory over the Ottoman troops. Inside the truncated pyramid, a huge marble sarcophagus still keeps the remains of some of the heroes in the Shipka epic. Four more stories above are filled with battle flags and other relics. The marvelous view from the top of the tower alone is worth taking a hike up all the stairs.
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» To the forumComments (3)
#3
Kolega - 4 Mar 2007 // 19:54:50

I agree.
I've always liked this bit and this is the first time I read it in English - not too bad!

I am curious though, what would it sound like, taken out of historical context?
Glorifying violence and ethnic hatred?
You know that this war, the most important and positive in our modern history, would certainly qualify as little more than one gigantic ethnic cleansing event in the mind of a Western Lefties, who for the most part don't even see much difference between us and the Turks;)
Thoughts?

#2
Uchak - 3 Mar 2007 // 05:43:48

if it wasn't for those brave soldiers sacrificing their lives for BG
(along with sacrifice lives of Russian soldiers) BG would likely not become free country and perhaps would be suffering stateless like Kurds....

It's easy to be cynical in these times, but not forget your hectic complaining life rests on the bones of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for BG

#1
Katia - 3 Mar 2007 // 03:47:15

O Shipka!
For three days out youthful battalions
The pass have defended. The high mountain valleys
Re-echo the battle's tumultuous roar.
The onslaught's ferocious! Again the dense hordes
Along the ravine for the twelfth time are crawling
Where warm blood is flowing and bodies are sprawling.
Assault on assault! Swarm on swarm they advance!
Once more at the towering peak Suleiman
is pointing: "Rush forward! Up there are the rayahs!"
Away race the hordes in a rage wild and dire,
A thunderous "Allah" re-echoes afar.
The summit replies with a rousing "Hurrah!",
A hail of fresh bullets and tree trunks and boulders;
Spattered with blood, our battalions boldly
Retaliate, every man in his own way
Striving to be in the front of the fray,
Each, like a hero, death bravely defying,
Determined to leave one more enemy dying.
Cannon are pounding. The Turks with a cry
Rush up the slope where they tumble and die;
Coming like tigers, like sheep they go flying,
Then come once again: the Bulgarians fighting
Like lions are running along the redoubt,
Neither heat, thirst nor toil are they worried about.
The onslaught is fierce, the rebuff no less stout.
For three days they fight but no help is arriving,
And no hope is visible on the horizon,
And no brother eagles come swiftly with aid.
No matter. They'll die, but die true, unafraid -
And then does Stoletov, our general brave,
Roar words of great courage: "Young volunteer fighters,
Now crown Bulgaria with laurels of triumph!
The Tsar has entrusted the pass, the whole war,
Himself even, unto these muscles, of yours!"
Thus heartened, our proud and heroic battalions
Courageously meet the next thrust of the rallying
Enemy hordes! O heroic time!
Fresh waves of assailants the cliffs now climb.
Our men have no bullets, with bravery girded,
Their bayonets broken, their breasts ever sturdy,
They're all to a man ready gladly to die
On the ridge which the whole of the world can descry,
To die here like heroes triumphant, victorious .
The whole of Bulgaria watches, supports us,
The peak is a high one: if we run away,
She'll see us – so better to die here today
No weapons are left! What remains is the slaughter!
Each stone is a bomb and each tree-trunk a sword is.
Each object – a blow, and each soul – flame that sears.
From the peak every tree, every stone disappears.
Grab hold of the bodies! they hear a voice crying,
At once through the air lifeless corpses are flying,
And over the hordes like black devils they dive
And tumble and roll as if they were alive!
The Turks quake and tremble, not having seen ever
The living and death fight a battle together,
And raise a shrill cry of demoniac rage.
In life and death combat the armies engage.
Our heroes, there standing as steady as boulders

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