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Plovdiv?s Liberation from the Turkish rule

Plovdiv?s Liberation from the Turkish rule

1/16/2004 12:00:00 AM

Today is the 126 anniversary from the Liberation of Plovdiv from the Turkish rule. As a tradition, on January 16th each year, citizens of Plovdiv publicly celebrate that day - people lay wreaths and floral tributes to the monument of the Russian Captain Bourago, who was the leader of a cavalry squadron of dragoons. (if you would like to see a photo of his monument on this site ? go to Photo Gallery, Monuments, page 2, photo 25)

In 1364, after strong resistance against the Ottoman invaders, Plovdiv was finally captured by the Ottoman Turks and renamed Philibe. After the whole of Bulgaria surrendered to the invaders, Plovdiv, being located quite close to the Ottoman Empire?s capital Constantinople, retained his position as centre of a rich province. All that served in favor of Plovdiv, creating conditions for the city to grow into an industrial centre of large importance. Crafts and trade developed and Plovdiv traders exported goods (wheat, barley, rye, corn, oat, beans, flax, rice, tobacco, fruits, various craftsmen? products) to countries far beyond the Ottoman Empire?s borders ? e.g. Egypt, India, Central and West Europe. New craft-guilds got established. From the existing 600 manufacturing workshops, about 500 belonged to Bulgarians. In 1847, in today?s village of Purvenets (5 km north-northwest of Plovdiv) one the first on the Balkans textile factory had been opened. Banking started its development. Plovdiv gradually grew into a large-scale warehouse for industrial and agricultural goods. The very notion of being Bulgarian slowly got back into usage the city?s older names: Pludin, Puldin, Plovdiv.

The Plovdiv revolutionary committee developed significant revolutionary preparatory activities for the 1876 April Uprising, but Plovdiv actually never rose in rebellion. During the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation, after passing the Stara Planina Mountain and the Liberation of Sofia (Dec. 23, 1877), the so called ?West Unit?, led by General Yosif Vladimirovich Gourko headed towards Tatar Pazardzhik (today?s town of Pazardzhik) and Plovdiv. Suleiman Pasha, who was responsible of defending the city, decided to retreat in the direction of Edirne, due to the inability of his frightened soldiers to retain the city. Suleiman covered his retreat by creating a new line of defense between the villages of Purvenets and Brestnik. 
 
On January 4th, Russian military units led by Count Shouvalov and the generals Velyaminov and Schindler-Schuldner started their onrush. Being unable to succeed in their direct attacks, the Russians destroyed the Turkish flank defense. During the night of Jan.4th, after capturing the village of Kroumovo, Gen. Schindler-Schuldner attacked the village of Brestnik, destroyed the Turkish unit there, and got hold of important 23 cannon-guns.

Thus, the Turkish army had been cut in two, and its southern unit, led by Fouad Pasha, deprived of any way back towards Plovdiv. The Turkish army headed through the Rhodope Mountains to Aegean Sea, leaving its heavy arms on the roads. Captain Alexander Petrovich Bourago was the brave Russian officer, who in the night of January 4, 1878 led his cavalry squadron of 63 people through the icy waters of the Maritsa River, thus preventing the withdrawing Turkish troops to set the town on fire as designed. Suleiman first stopped in the town of Assenovgrad, but being informed that the Russians had blocked his way to Edirne, he retreated to Dedeagach through the Rhodope Mountains.

General Gourko?s unit triumphantly entered Plovdiv on January 4th 1878, welcomed as a liberator by the exultant citizens of the largest in that period Bulgarian city.


 

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