FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Wanders through Kardzhali

Posted in Bulgaria, Kardzhali by folkestonejack on May 18, 2016

Our schedule gave us a lengthy gap in the middle of the day before our activities on the tracks resumed. I took the opportunity to have a good look around the centre of Kardzhali. My guidebooks were remarkably dismissive of the place, but I figured there must be more to this place than they would have had me believe.

My mini-tour took me on a wander up Bul. Bulgaria to the one sight I had acquired some slim details on, a monument to the Bulgarian soldiers who fell in the liberation of Kardzhali during the First Balkan War between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. The date of the battle is either 8th or 21st October 1912 depending on which calendar you use.

The Liberators’ memorial in Kardzhali

The Liberators’ memorial in Kardzhali

The municipality has some grand plans for the redevelopment of the wasteland by the river Arda which they hope to turn into a waterfront park with an open air theatre and other attractions. The first steps towards this goal are already visible but there’s a long way to go before the plans displayed at the entrance are realised.

One of the more curious sights was the grand communist era monument with a grand set of steps, a massive granite backdrop and an empty plinth. It was pretty clear that a statue stood here until it was ripped off, suggesting that it was formerly home to one of a select group of public enemies.

A little digging revealed that a golden statue of Georgi Mikhailov Dimitrov (1882-1949) was erected here on 14th June 1980 and that it was removed in 2010. The plan is to replace it with the unifying figure of St George. This will eventually be the world’s largest statue of St George, but for now a lack of funds has delayed the start of work.

A grand setting and the empty plinth

A grand setting and the empty plinth

Other sights around town included another war memorial, a mural on the side of an administrative building, the children’s railway (inactive today), a graffiti covered Mig 21 plinthed in the large recreational park, the golden domed church of St. Georgi Pobedonosec and the Kardzhali Historical Museum (exterior view only) which was apparently built to be a Muslim College but never actually used as such.

Kardzhali is never going to challenge any of the tourist destinations in Bulgaria but a wander through town on a warm and sunny day was a perfectly pleasant to spend a few hours. I was pleased to have seen a glimpse of the world beyond the railway tracks.

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