Stage 13: Monument to the founding of Bulgaria

The monument on a mountain can be seen already on our approach from more than 20km distance. The lion at the top alone weighs 1000 tons. For its construction 2300 cubic meters of earth were excavated and 2400 tons of reinforcing rods and 50,000 cubic meters of concrete were processed. The mosaic embedded in the walls is the largest open-air triptych in Europe.

Pride in one’s own nation and its history also massively determines today’s politics in Bulgaria. The change of system in Bulgaria after the collapse of socialism happened comparatively quietly. In 1988, the country embarked on a course of reform. The first mass protests occurred in mid-November 1989, resulting in a democratic opposition movement. After free elections, the Republic of Bulgaria was founded in 1990. 

The country took a special path in 2001, when the former tsar Simeon II of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, who had returned home from exile, won the elections for prime minister with the National Movement. To date, he is the only deposed monarch in Europe to regain political power through democratic means. In 2004 Bulgaria joined NATO and in 2007 the European Union, but to this day it is not a member of the Schengen area.

Text: Tobias Schwessinger/Christian Faludi 

Photos: Christian Faludi