INTELLECTUAL BULGARIA 1878-1944
After almost five centuries of Turkish rule, Bulgaria has enjoyed liberty during the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. Throughout the long period of foreign domination it lost all connection with its past, when, material and spiritual culture flourished. Bulgaria appeared very late upon the scene as a free nation: her neighbors, owing to their geographical situation, had for many years already gained their freedom. Cut-off from progress in science and art by its ignorant rulers, deprived of almost all contact with the civilized world, Bulgaria - when she regained her political liberty, was confronted with a civilization which had developed without her participation during five centuries.
In her emancipation Bulgaria wished to make up for lost time, and, tried in half a century to overtake other European counties. Its inhabitants - from the richest to the poorest - eager to progress, applied themselves with great enthusiasm to the study of science and art. Time, however, can not be forced by rushing through stages - especially, in this sphere of human activity, where, rushing affects work done. This explains, why, numerous Bulgarian works - produced at that times in the various spheres of spiritual and material activity - were, sometimes, imperfect in either form or essence. But, on the other hand, if one examines more closely what has been accomplished in all branches of human activity during this comparatively short period - one must agree that the Bulgarian people have really made an enormous effort and attaining surprising results.
The progress achieved is a guarantee for the future and is a proof for the vitality of the people, which, will ensure their national existence and cooperation with the rest of the world in human progress. We enumerate, with a short description, the principal institutions - in order to be helpful to the visiting scholar:
Schools: - In the year 1878/80, the first after the emancipation, there were 1936 primary schools in Bulgaria. In year 1928/29 their number reached 5418. In addition, during this same period - 130 infant schools, 1385 high schools, 103 secondary schools, 26 special schools, 254 primary/secondary technical schools, 1472 private schools, 2 teachers colleges, 2 universities, 1 military school, 1 musical academy, 1 academy of fine arts, 1 commercial high school and 1 cooperative high school - have been founded. In year 1880 only 2.1% of the whole population could read and write, whilst, in year 1926 their number increased to 47.8% and has progressed still further, since.
Libraries and Reading Rooms: - There were, already, several reading rooms in the country 15 to 20 years before the emancipation, and, they were a real source of enlightenment and education. At the end of the period, there were two National Libraries in the country: that of Sofia - "Rakovski Street 111" /N.B. the addresses are given according municipality plans before WW II/ - with some 179 500 volumes, 1090 of which are old Bulgarian manuscripts, and, that of Plovdiv - with some 129 400 volumes. In addition to these libraries, there is in almost every town and in many of the villages a library with a reading rooms - a total of 582.
Museums and Science Collections: 1. - The National Archeological Museum in Sofia, "Znepolska Street 3". This was established immediately after the liberation of Bulgaria, at the same time as the National Library. Both were under one administration at the beginning. The Museum was separated from the Library in year 1892. It is housed in the "Buyuk Djamia" - an old building and interesting for its architecture. There are five sections in the Museum: prehistorical - possessing in year 1927 - 2222 objects; antique - with 5510 objects; mediaeval - with 2222 objects; numismatic - with 43 705 objects; fine arts - with 732 objects, etc.
2. - The National Ethnographical Museum in Sofia, "Narodno Sobranie Square 7". It was founded in year 1879 and has collections of national costumes, metal and weft ornaments, vessels and implements for house/field work, interiors of Bulgarian homes, objects of religion and folk/popular medicine, etc. A special section for folk songs has been arranged since 1926: text of the songs and popular musical instruments.
3. - The Royal Museum of Natural History at the grounds of the Royal Palace in Sofia, "Tzar Osvoboditel Boulevard 3". Established in 1890, it is now the richest Museum of natural history in the Balkan Peninsula; its collections of animals, plants and minerals being both excellent and varied. The Museum contains about 150 000 exhibits.
4. - The Royal Botanical Garden in Sofia, "Ferdinand Boulevard 3", with subsidiary gardens at "Euxinograde" near Varna, and, "Tzarska Bistritza"-"Saragiol"-"Sitniakovo" in the Rila Mountains. Contains rich collections of plants from the Bulgarian mountains and valleys.
5. - The Royal Zoological Garden in Sofia, "Ferdinand Boulevard". There is a very rich collection of animals from Bulgaria and other countries.
6. - The Royal Entomological Station in Sofia, "Evlogui Gueorguieff Boulevard". Possesses over 100 000 specimens of insects.
7. - The Museum for Industry and Trade in Sofia, "Rakovsky Street".
8. - The Ivan Vasoff Museum in Sofia, "Ivan Vasoff Street" at the corner of "Rakovsky Street".
There are 23 towns and villages, in whose neighborhood excavations have been made or ruins /antiquities exist, where, local Archeological Museums have been organized.
Academies and Scientific Institutes: 1. - The Bulgarian Academy of Science in Sofia, "Narodno Sobranie Square". Publishes numerous scientific works, and also, the following periodicals: i - Review of the Bulgarian Academy of Science; ii - Magazine of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; iii - Chronicle of the Bulgarian Academy of Science; iv - Collections of folklore and popular paintings.
From the numerous funds which it possesses, a great part of which is intended for the encouragement of art and science, the Academy distributes prizes every year for a certain number of interesting works.
2. - The Bulgarian Archeological Institute in Sofia, "Rakovsky Street 139". It publishes periodically: i - News of the Archeological Institute; ii - Archeological Library.
3. - The Macedonian Scientific Institute in Sofia, "Alexander I Street 16". Has the following publications: i - Macedonian Review; ii - Materials for the History of the Macedonian Liberation Movement; iii - Macedonian Library.
Scientific, Literary and Social Associations: 1. - Association of the Academic Economists, which publishes the quarterly review "The Economic Thought".
2. - Association of Economics, which publishes the "Review of the Association of Economics", appearing monthly.
3. - Physical-Mathematical Association, which publishes the "Review of the Physical-Mathematical Association".
4. - Union of Reading Rooms.
5. - Union of Bulgarian Authors.
6. - Association of Bulgarian Painters and Sculptors.
7. - Unions of Bulgarian Journalists.
8. - Bulgarian Red Cross Society.
9. - Alliance Francaise.
10. - Young Men's Christian Association /YMCA/.
11. - Bulgarian Archeological Society.
12. - Hunter's Club
13. - Tourist Club
14. - Bulgarian National Sports Association.
15. - Union of Bulgarian Students for the League of Nations.
16. - Bulgarian League for the Defense of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
17. - Bulgarian Section of the International Union "Mark Twain".
18. - Bulgarian Section of the PEN International Club.
19. - Bulgarian Scientific Institute for Agriculture and Economics.
20. - Society for the Protection of Children.
21. - Bulgarian Ethnographical Society.
22. - Union of Bulgarian Musicians.
23. - Bulgarian Section of the Peace Association and the League of Nations.
24. - Union of Bulgarian Women.
25. - English Speaking League.
26. - Deutsch-Bulgarische Kulturgesellschaft.
Theatres: 1. - National Theatre, Sofia.
2. - National Opera, Sofia.
3. - Cooperative Theatre, Sofia /a la operettas/.
4. - Theatre "A. Sladkaroff", Sofia.
5. - Town Theatre, Russe.
6. - Municipal Theatre, Plovdiv.
7. - Town Theatre, Pleven.
8. - Municipal Theatre, Varna.
9. - Department of Theatre, Turnovo.
In addition to the above mentioned theatres there are theatrical touring companies.
Press: - On the eve of the liberation the Bulgarian Press was represented by two/three newspapers, and, as many reviews which were published abroad, i.e. Bucharest or Constantinople. In year 1926/27 - 120 reviews dealing with science, art, social-political questions, and, 205 newspapers mostly daily papers - were already appearing. Publications on art-literature-science etc reach the number of 2500 books annually, of which, an average of 3000 copies of each are printed.
General view from Sofia - painting J. Oberbauer
Crossing: "Dondukov" and "Lege streets" - photo D. Karastoyanov