(6 Sept) Opening of the Exhibition – “Sandro Prince Alexander von Battenberg. A European Destiny” (+GAL)

On September 6th, one day prior to the National holiday commemorating the Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia, the exhibition “Sandro Prince Alexander von Battenberg: A European Destiny” was officially inaugurated at the National Gallery in Sofia.

This exhibition unveils previously undiscovered photographs and facts about the life of the first Bulgarian ruler after the 1878 liberation. It is the culmination of a three-year research effort by a team of German scholars and researchers. Initially presented by the Heiligenberg Jügenheim Foundation in Germany, it is now brought to Bulgaria through the efforts of the “Cennosti” (Values) foundation and its chairperson, Mrs. Antonina Stoyanova.

During the exhibition’s opening, Mrs. Stoyanova underscored Battenberg’s remarkable role in the Unification, highlighting how he facilitated the union of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, even at the risk of his own throne. She remarked, “This act of self-sacrifice transformed him from a Bulgarian prince into a unifier of the Bulgarian state. Alexander von Battenberg will forever remain in our memories because of this.”

Mr. Rosen Zhelyazkov, the Speaker of the National Assembly, added, “This is the man who, upon entering Plovdiv, was greeted with shouts: ‘Prince of Northern and Southern Bulgaria!’ He chose Bulgarian names for his children – Vera-Tsvetana and Krum-Asen, and his last wish was to be buried in Sofia. Today, his tomb seamlessly blends into our urban landscape, almost unnoticed. He has become an indelible part of Bulgarian history, and this exhibition seeks to rectify that oversight.”

Two of the researchers, Dr. Zigrun Komati and Johnny Glover, elaborated on Sandro’s contributions to Bulgaria’s progress and the unification that transpired 138 years ago. Dr. Komati, Chairman of the German-Bulgarian Society for the Promotion of Relations and Friendship with Bulgaria, explained that during Sandro’s rule, compulsory education for children was initiated, cultural life flourished, new large parks were designed by German architects, and the tradition of celebrating Christmas with a tree and gifts was introduced by the prince. The young capital saw the development of well-lit streets with gas lighting, the establishment of the Alexander Hospital, the founding of the Faculty of Medicine, and the inception of the idea to build the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Deborah Laval, Head of Culture and Media Relations on behalf of German Ambassador Irene Maria Plank, extended a warm welcome to the event. Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, was also in attendance, as Sofia Municipality sponsored the exhibition. The exhibition will be open for public viewing until October 29th at the National Gallery in Sofia.

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