145 Years since the Liberation of Sofia
145 years ago on January 4, the Russian liberation troops under the leadership of Field Marshal Iosif Vladimirovich Romeyko-Gurko triumphantly entered Sofia.
Only one year after the Liberation, in the distant January of 1879, at the suggestion of the residents of Sofia, the then city administration decided to solemnly celebrate January 4 every year in a new style. That old-style day then is December 23 – a day before Christmas Eve for Christians. And it came true this Christmas Eve and it remains until now, because the cause was for freedom; freedom of the brothers in the Orthodox faith.
January 1878. Sofia is frozen with cold. For several days, the inhabitants of the city have been hearing the cannon booms of the approaching Russian army. Pleven is now free. Sofia is waiting. Turkish military chief Osman Nuri Pasha warns the consuls of France, Austria and Italy to leave the city. However, Léandre François René le Gay, Josef Waldhart and Vittorio Positano refused. They stay in Sofia and this saves the city from burning down. Sofia is silent with fear. Four gallows swing at its four ends. The Turks are angry; after the fall of Pleven, huge quantities of food and ammunition were brought here. However, Osman Nuri Pasha is aware that the battle for Sofia is doomed and orders a withdrawal to Pernik. The night before he retreated, he issued an order for the city to be set on fire and the Bulgarian population massacred. The protest of the European consuls against the destruction of the city and its people threatens to cause diplomatic complications. The determination and humanism shown by them in defense of the population and the city, despite the plans for their further geopolitical interests in the Balkans, is one of the earliest signs of European unity. This results in the cancellation of the order.
After many battles, on the night of January 4, a large part of the Turkish troops left Sofia, despite their numerical superiority. This is when the Russian regiments decide to attack. They take over the main administrative building and take down the Turkish flag.
The operation to capture the city was ordered by Emperor Alexander II, because Sofia was an extremely important strategic point for the further advance of Russian troops in Thrace and a main point for supplying the Turkish army with ammunition and food. The Ottoman Empire suffered irreparable human and material losses.
145 years ago on this day, General Gurko was greeted triumphantly with flowers and tears. He captured Sofia, inflicted a final defeat on Suleiman Pasha at Plovdiv and captured Edirne, which practically ended the war. And the future capital of the Principality of Bulgaria was liberated.
The Metropolitan Municipality will mark the anniversary with various initiatives.
From 10.00 a.m. in the metropolitan church "Sveta Nedelya" a prayer service will be held in memory of the fallen soldiers. The bells of the capital's temples will ring the city.
Vice President Iliana Yotova will attend the prayer service on the occasion of the Liberation of Sofia from Ottoman rule. Later, the vice president will lay flowers at the Monument to the Bulgarian soldier.
From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., there will be a guard of honor from the National Guard unit in front of the Monument to the Bulgarian Militiamen.
The exhibition "A Young Capital Travels Around the World" will be presented in the Open Air Gallery in the City Garden, showing the most interesting illustrated lithographic cards of Sofia from the last years of the 19th century, selected from the collection of the website stara-sofia.com.
The Sofia City Art Gallery and the Regional History Museum - Sofia will operate with free admission for visitors.
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