Shipka National Park

Shipka National Park-Museum is the open-air museum founded on the same place of the mountainous battleground where the decisive and bloody battles of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War took place during the 1870’s which ended Turkish rule in the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro and Romania, the Bulgarian Opalchentsi and the Finnish Guard Regiment also took part in the war on the side of Russia. Shipka Pass, altitude 1150 meters is a scenic mountain pass through the Balkan Mountains – Stara Planina Mountains in Bulgaria. Shipka is the peak which commands a perfect view of northern a southern Bulgaria and marks the border between Stara Zagora province and Gabrovo province. The Shipka pass connects Gabrovo /22 km/ and Kazanlak /28 km/. To reach the Shipka summit starting from Gabrovo, there is the Shipka Pass ascent of 15 km long. Over this distance, you elevate 720 meters in height. The Shipka-Buzludza National Park-Museum includes Shipka Memorial Church (or Church of the Nativity) near the town of Shipka, Shipka National Park, Freedom Monument near the village of Sheinovo and Buzludza National Park.

Shipka represents a complex of memorial tablets, monuments, trenches, canons and bunkers reminiscent of the Battle of Shipka. The combats at Shipka pass on the main route between Bulgaria and Turkey took place from 09/21 to 13/26 August 1877 between the vital Shipka pass defenders /Russians aided by Bulgarian volunteers/ and the Turkish army, and entered the Bulgarian history under the name of the Shipka Epopee. The task of the small-number Russian-Bulgarian detachment under the command of General N.G. Stoletov, about 7,500 people strong, was to deter the Suleyman Pasha Turkish army that was overpowering it by its numbers (approx. 27,000 people and a reserve of 10,000), and not allow it to cross the Balkan Mountains and join forces with the Turkish units in northeast Bulgaria, in help of the Osman Pasha army besieged in Pleven. The period of Shipka Battle went down in history as the “Winter Shipka Standing”. In spite of the cold and fog, in spite of the snow-storms and blizzards, the Shipka defenders guarded heroically the pass. On the top of the mount at Shipka rises the Monument of Freedom. It was paid for by voluntary donations of the Bulgarian people and built after the design of Atanas Donkov, an architect and Alexander Andreev, a sculptor. The Shipka monument of Freedom was opened officially in 1934. Located on the monument’s levels expositions Shipka Monument relates the story of the Russian soldiers’ and Bulgarian volunteers’ heroism during the five-month defense of the Shipka pass. The Sipka monument is a 31.5-metre high stone tower in the form of a truncated pyramid. A giant bronze lion, 8 m long and 4 m high, stands above the entrance to the tower, and a figure of a woman represents the victory over the Ottoman forces. A marble sarcophagus housing some of the remains of the Russian and Bulgarian casualties is located on the first floor. There are four other floors where one can find replica of Bulgarian military flags and other relics, and the top of the tower reveals a panorama of Shipka Peak and the surrounding area. From the last ground there is a panorama of the restored details of the battle field, monuments and common graves reminiscent of the self-sacrifice of the Russian and Bulgarian heroes. Close to the pass in the village of Shipka, there is a Russian Orthodox church built to commemorate Russian and Bulgarian bravery during Shipka pass defense.

The Russo-Turkish War 1877-1878 ended with a victory for Russia and the signature of the Treaty of San Stefano, subsequently superseded by the Treaty of Berlin. The Russo-Turkish War is known as the War of Liberation of the Balkans, as it brought complete independence to Serbia, Romania and Montenegro, while a part of Bulgaria was declared a vassal principality. The rest of Bulgaria remained within the boundaries of the Empire as the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia. In the autumn of 1885 Eastern Rumelia united with the Principality of Bulgaria.

The Shipka locality offers excellent conditions for relaxation and tourism. Several shops, cafes with well stocked wet-bar, camping, a comfortable hotel-restaurant and a petrol station are available for the visitors at the Shipka National Park.