From Gabrovo towards Kazanlak, the scenic mountain road winds its way up the switchback curves of the Stara Planina (the old mountain) Nearer the top you will catch glimpses of the Shipka Pass monument which stands tall and proud on top of the ridge over the Shipka Pass.
The Shipka pass monument is at nearly 4000 feet. Here, in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, a garrison of 7,500 Bulgarians and Russians successfully repelled an army of 38,000 Turks in 1877, during the epic Battle of Shipka Pass.
The tower itself stands nearly 100 feet high on the top of Stolotov peak with fantastic 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside.
The Battle at Shipka Pass
Before the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 the Balkan peninsula was almost entirely part of the Ottoman empire.
Bulgarians were under the Ottoman reign for nearly 500 years but they never stopped wanting to be free.
A rebellion was begun in 1876 and spread across Bulgaria, many towns fought but were defeated and the rebels were put to death.
Russia became very supportive of the cause and divided their army into 3 detachments, one of these came to defend the Shipka Pass.
The battle of Shipka was one of the most epic battles in Bulgaria’s 1300-year history.
The Front detachments goal was to hold the pass and included the whole Bulgarian army of volunteers.
According to one account, the Bulgarian-Russian army being outnumbered had at a certain point run out of ammunition, so they started using trees and stones, and eventually – their dead comrades bodies.
Shipka Pass Monument Museum
Inside the Shipka Pass monument tower is an excellent museum which tells the story of the battle of Shipka and the fight for the freedom.
There are many artifacts found around the battle site.
Also are a series of steep steps leading up to the tower and once inside there are more levels with exhibits on each landing before eventually reaching the top of the monument museum and stepping outside to admire the breathtaking 360 degree panorama.
Even without going into the museum it’s an excellent day out. There are a couple of small cafe restaurants on the main road next to the site at the top of the pass. Or you can take your own picnic and enjoy the beautiful panoramic views.
More Information about the Shipka pass museum for visitors
Bulgaria Liberation Day
Every year on 3rd of March, Bulgaria celebrates a National holiday to commemorate the signing of the peace treaty of 1878 between Russia and the Ottoman empire.
The treaty created a Bulgarian kingdom with christian government and the right to have an army.
After 500 years Bulgaria was free again.