Ermak Travel Guide


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Shipka Pass (Шипченски проход)


Shipka Pass of the Stara Planina (Old Mountain) has always been a strategic location since the ancient times. It provides and easy access between North and Central Bulgaria.




Location: Map


Elevation: 1,190 m (3,904 ft)


Russian Generals


Iosif Gourko

Nikolai Stoletov


Ottoman General

Suleiman Pasha




Description of Shipka Pass


The first historical record date back to the time of Alexander the Great who crossed Shipka Pass in 335 BC during his campaigns against tribes of Tribals. In 279- 278 BC Celtic tribe of Galatians crossed into central Bulgaria. During Roman times army engineers constructed two roads to connect two important regions.


However Shipka Pass is particularly famous as a battle site of the Russo- Turkish war of 1877- 78. Russians did take Shipka Pass twice during Russo- Turkish wars of 1806- 12 and 1828- 29. Both times surveyors took measurements and drew detailed maps. So then Russian empire set on yet another war to liberate the Christian Bulgarians from the Muslim Ottoman rule they knew the mountains quiet well. On April 24 1877 emperor Alexander II proclaimed war on Turkish Sultan and on June Russian troops crossed the Danube river. By mid July the army took the pass and kept this important strategic location until early January then Turkish army was finally defeated. In total four major attacks by the enemy were repelled by the Russian troops and Bulgarian volunteers who defended Shipka Pass. Occasionally the defenders had to use boulders to repel the advancing Turkish troops once they ran out of bullets. Several Russian officers reported unhealthy enthusiasm that the Turkish troops showed while trying to storm several locations including the Eagle's Nest. It was probably due to psychedelic drugs that were easily attainable at the time. If you visit the site you will understand that some of the paths that attacking forces undertook was nothing more than a suicide. Even without rifles and munitions scaling some of the cliffs of the Shipka Pass is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. With the enemy shooting at you from the top and throwing huge boulders it made the attacks futile and unsuccessful.






Nativity Memorial Church (Shipka Pass)


Location: Shipka

Open: 8:30am- 7pm

Entrance Fee: 2 lv, camera permit 5lv

Church of Christ's Birth or Nativity Memorial Church was erected between 1886 and 1902. Constructed in a classic Russian style it was designed to commemorate Russian and Bulgarian troops who died on a Shipka pass and its vicinity. The idea of its construction belong to Olga Nikolaevna Skobeleva, mother of general Skobelev who became famous for his role in a war. Bells for the church were made in Russian from 30 tons of empty bullet cartridges. Additionally 34 marble plates on its walls list names and units that took part in the battles.




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