In case you were wondering who is that man on horse back that faces the Bulgarian parliament, it is Russian tsar Alexander II. In Bulgaria he is simply known as tsar- Liberator. He started Russo- Turkish war of 1877- 78 that gave Bulgaria its independence on March 3rd, 1878. Upon its creation, the garden was located on the outskirts of the capital, which with the expansion of the city enter its expanded center, and the garden itself is extended to the Hunting Park . It is mainly the part near the center of the capital, and after Yavorov Blvd. becomes a forest park.
In 1882, the then-mayor of Sofia Ivan Hadzhienov brought Swiss gardener Daniel Neff from Bucharest with the intention to create a garden for the capital of Bulgaria. The mayor's initial plans included first establishing a large nursery where trees, shrubs and flowers for the future garden would grow, also providing material for the already existing gardens and for the streets.
The monument is a 4.5-meter mounted figure of
Alexander II made of bronze, mounted on a pedestal of black polished
granite. The total height is 12 meters. The middle part has figures
and a massive Renaissance cornice, finished with a sculpture of the
Russian tsar, riding a horse. A circular high bronze relief
encircling the middle of the pedestal depicts a people led into
battle by the goddess of victory Nike. The relief depicts the faces
of more than 30 warlords, statesmen and public figures, including
General Mikhail Skobelev, General Yosif Gurko, Earl Nikolay
Ignatiev, Prince Nikolai Nikolaevich Senior. The other three smaller
bronze reliefs depict key events, such as the Battle of Stara
Zagora, the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty and the
convening of the Constituent Assembly. The front of the monument is
crowned with a bronze laurel wreath, a gift from the Romanian King
Carol I in memory of the fallen Romanian soldiers and with the
inscription "King Liberator // Acknowledging Bulgaria".
History of creation
For the first time, the idea of erecting a monument to the liberators was proposed in December 1892 at the Second Congress of the Opposition Corps. A unanimous decision was made to set up an initiative committee to raise the funds needed to erect a monument to Alexander II and build a home for veterans of the April Uprising and the Russo-Turkish War. Stoyan Zaimov was elected chairman of the committee and Prince Ferdinand was the honorary chairman, who also made the first donation contribution of BGN 50,000. A donation of BGN 300,000 was received from the deputies of the Tenth Ordinary National Assembly, and the remaining funds were raised by various public organizations and by the mass purchase of the specially issued postage stamp with the image of Alexander II.
At the meetings of the committee from February 15 to 18, 1900, a program was prepared for the competition for the construction of the monument, which fixes its mandatory elements, materials for its construction, and determines the amounts for final realization (300 thousand francs) and prize money (5 thousand (first prize honors and 4,000 francs for second to fifth place awards). The terms of the competition have been sent to art academies around the world and are of great interest; 90 sculptors are invited to participate, sending 32 projects from 13 countries: nine from Paris, three from Florence, three from Sofia, two from Zurich, Berlin and Prague, one each from Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Copenhagen, Lisbon, The Hague, Hanover, Turin, Bucs, Tiflis and Smyrna.
From September 1 to September 15, 1900, the models were exhibited in the royal arena for public viewing, and on September 20 Prince Ferdinand solemnly opened the jury meeting with Prof. Antonin Mercier of France, Prof. Ettore Ferrari of Italy, Prof. Robert Bach from Russia, Bulgarian artists Ivan Murkvichka, Anton Mitov, Petko Klisurov, arch. Nikola Lazarov, Stoimen Sarafov, Stoyan Zaimov and diplomats.
The contest was won by Florentine sculptor Arnaldo Dzoki. The second to fifth place are ranked German Gerhard Eberline, Frenchmen Anton Laru and Gaston Male, Czech Frantisek Rose and Frenchman Eugene Boveri. Five more applicants were honored with praise, including teachers at the School of Drawing, Zheko Spiridonov and Boris Schatz.
The main stone was laid on April 23, 1901 (St. George's Day) in the presence of Prince Ferdinand I. Work on the construction of the monument ended on September 15, 1903, and its official opening was on August 30, 1907. the war, Ferdinand I with his sons Boris and Cyril, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, son of Alexander II, with his wife Maria Pavlovna and their son Andrey, Minister of War Gen. Cowles, gen. Stoletov, the commandant of St. Petersburg, Gen. Parensov as well as Arnoldo Joky.