Tsar Liberator Monument in Sofia Removed for Restoration

Society | September 2, 2012, Sunday // 11:50|  views

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator was erected in Sofia in honor of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria of Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Photo by .geolocation.ws

The famous monument of Tsar Osvodboditel (Liberator King) in downtown Sofia will be temporarily removed from its location in front of the building of the Parliament to undergo full restoration.

The legs of the horse will be replaced with new bronze ones due to the many cracks.

The project is implemented by the Bulgarian Construction Chamber with financial assistance from the Pokolenie (Generation) Foundation.

The entire sculpture – the horse and rider, Tsar Alexander II, will be dismantle and sent to an atelier near the capital Sofia. Top Bulgarian and Russian restorers will be engaged for the works, along with a number of scientists. The sculpture will be cleaned from the patina while the foundation will be stabilized and also cleaned. The area around the monument will be renewed as well.

The cost of the project is estimated at BNG 1.1 M, but Russian experts say this amount will end up being by 40% larger.

The dismantling of the monument will happen at some point next week, most likely in the evening when there is less traffic in downtown Sofia. The restoration works will last about 2 months. During this time, pictures of the monument will surround the location.

The restored sculpture will be revealed on March 3 2013, which is Bulgaria's National Holiday, marking the gaining of its independence from Ottoman rule.

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator was erected in honor of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria of Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The Neoclassical memorial's author is Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi, who won the project in competition with 31 other artists from 12 countries in the end of the 19th century. Bulgarian architect Nikola Lazarov participated in the monument's architectural design.

The foundation stone was laid on 23 April 1901, St George's Day, in the presence of Knyaz Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, and the monument was completed on 15 September 1903.

Ferdinand also attended the monument's inauguration on 30 August 1907.

Erected of black polished granite from the nearby Vitosha Mountain, the monument consists of a pedestal, a middle part with figures and a massive Neo-Renaissance cornice finished with the sculpture of the Russian Tsar on a horse. The bronze wreath at the foot was donated by Romania in memory of the Romanian soldiers that died during the war.

The main bronze bas-relief in the middle part depicts a group of Russian and Bulgarian soldiers led by Nike, the Ancient Greek goddess of victory, who raises her sword high above. Portraits of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich, Count Ignatiev and the generals Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko and Mikhail Skobelev surround the group.

Other bas-reliefs feature scenes from the Battle of Stara Zagora, the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano and the opening ceremony of the Constituent National Assembly in Veliko Tarnovo, as well as portraits of prominent Bulgarian figures from the period.

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Tags: Tsar, Osvoboditel, Liberator, monument, sofia, restoration, restorers, Russian, Bulgarian, independence, Construction Chamber, pokolenie, Foundation, Alexander II, Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi, Ottoman rule, Russo-Turkish War, Ferdinand


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