Kozloduy – ancient and young
On the Danube River’s shore, in the embrace of the fertile Zlatiya, the town of Kozloduy is deploying silently its beauty. Whether its name means “low dell” or “corner of the ices”, we might never know. However, there – amid the vast green fields of the plain, the scorching sun and the mysterious lively river, it’s telling its story – of an ancient settlement and of a young town.
On the Kozloduy riverbank – this precious corner of our native land-, the steps of poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev and his band are still reverberating. On May 17, 1876, a group of true men debarked here from the Radetzky steamship, dropped to their knees and kissed the earth the way a mother’s hand is kissed, saying: “Brothers, this is the land where we were born! This is the land we’ll die for!” The words were simple, the goal – grand, and the feat – immortal. Today, every May 27th, in front of the monument bearing Hristo Botev’s bas-relief, we’re bowing before the self-sacrifice of this worthy Bulgarian and his followers. On May 28 at dawn, hundreds of patriots from all around the country engage a trek “in the footsteps of Botev’s Band” towards the Balkan Mountain.
Meanwhile, the Radetzky steamship stays proudly in “the still white Danube”. The reconstruction of the steamship was financed entirely by 1,200,000 children who collected enthusiastically and assiduously recyclable materials and donated the pennies earned for the project. Radetzky is the only floating museum on the Balkan Peninsula and is one of Bulgaria’s 100 National Tourist Sites.
The earth of Kozloduy keeps the memory of Emperor Tiberius’ times, when the Lower-Danube Road was built. The latter leads to Augusta (near the Harlets village) – a fortress that Emperor Justinian made impregnable. Built in line with the old-time traditions – austere, strong, symmetrical, it was bordering the steep banks of the Ogosta River to the south and an impassable marsh to the east and to the north. Once a formidable fortification at the border of the Roman Empire, today the fortress has found respite amid the picturesque nature of the Danube Plain.
The steps of Khan Asparukh’s Bulgarians resound all over the Asparukh’s Wall – from the Kiler Bair hill as far south as the Hayredin village. This wall built at the end of the 7th century, a whopping 32 km long and more than 2 m high, was made robust and thick, to protect the belongings and to keep the enemy off.
In the village of Butan, progressive Bulgarians and devout Christians built in the years 1860-1868 a modest building, which features nonetheless two storeys – on the first one, children were taught reading and writing, while the second one was for looking at God. The St. Ascension church is the only two-storey church in Bulgaria with a peculiar overhanging altar, and one of the rare churches outside the monasteries that has three bells.
Kozloduy citizens collected donations with unwavering faith and in 1914 they erected, on the site of an older small church with a wooden semantron, the St. Trinity church. It’s proclaimed architectural and artistic monument and it features unique woodcarving on the iconostasis, the proskynetarion, and the archiereus’ (episcopal) throne.
Generous is the Zlatiya; the Danube flows majestically and forms lovely relax places. In the spacious Botev Park, you may enjoy the beautiful panoramas, observe the rich variety of rare birds, sit with friends in the respite corners, walk along the eco paths, or, fishing rod in hand, head towards the Kozloduy Island – the second-largest Bulgarian island of the Danube River, or the Ogosta River.