On this day: Bill Clinton is visiting Bulgaria

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1344 the construction of the Saint Vitus Cathedral began

The cathedral is located in Prague Castle and is the seat of the archbishop of the city. The first church, which is a Romanesque rotunda, was built on the site of today’s cathedral in 925 by Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia. St. was chosen as the patron of the church. Vitus, as Vaclav received from Emperor Henry I a holy relic – the hand of St. Vit. Another hypothesis for the choice of patron is explained by Vaclav’s desire to make Christianity more acceptable to the pagan population. He chooses St. Vitus because of the close sonority to Svetovit – a Slavic deity.


Construction of today’s Gothic cathedral began on November 21, 1344, when the bishop of Prague was elevated to the rank of archbishop. The first master builder was the Frenchman Mathias of Arras, who built the papal palace in Avignon. He designed the main design of the cathedral, incorporating some elements characteristic of French Gothic – St. Vitus is a three-nave basilica with arbutments, a short transept, an altar with five niches, a decagonal apse and several chapels.

After Matthias of Ara died in 1352, Peter Parlerz, who was only 23 years old at the time, became the main builder of the cathedral. At first he worked from the plans of his predecessor, and, having completed the construction as far as Matthias had planned it, Parler continued the construction according to his own ideas. With its bold innovative design, it combines various Gothic elements in a unique way.

In 1406 Parlerge died and the construction was taken over by his sons – Wenzel Parlerge and partly Johannes Parlerge. They complete the transept and the great tower on the south side of the cathedral. The construction of the cathedral stopped in the first half of the 15th century, when the Bohemian Wars began. Much of the interior of the still unfinished cathedral was looted, and in 1541, during a great fire, the cathedral was badly damaged.

After the situation calmed down, at the end of the 15th century, King Władysław II commissioned the completion of the cathedral to the architect Benedict Ried, but shortly after the work began, the construction stopped again due to lack of funds. Although brief, the architect’s work brought some Renaissance and Baroque elements to the interior and exterior of the cathedral – most notable being the Baroque pinnacle of the great south tower and the organ in the north wing of the transept.

In 1844, during a meeting in Prague, the German architects Václav Pessina together with the neo-Gothic architect Josef Kraner proposed a program for the renovation and completion of the cathedral. Later that year, the Union for the Completion of the Cathedral of St. Vit in Prague”.

Gradually, in the early 1960s, work began. The baroque decorative elements were removed from the interior and the original appearance was restored. In 1873 Kramer died and his work was taken over by Josef Mocker, who made the design for the western facade in the classic Gothic manner – two towers. This is the model that Camille Hilbert, the last architect, followed after his death.

The rose window above the main portal, which depicts biblical scenes from the Creation, was designed by František Kisela in 1925-1927. The cathedral was finally completed for the Jubilee of Wenceslas I in 1929.

The full name of the cathedral since 1989 has been the most important Czech saints Saint Vitus, Saint Wenceslas and Saint Vojtech respectively – Prague Cathedral “Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Vojtech”. Many of the kings of Bohemia are buried there. The cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and the most important church in the country.

1783 Jean Pilatre and Marquis Francois d’Arlan make the first free flight over Paris in a balloon

The flying machine was designed and created by the Montgolfier brothers – five months earlier they made the first ever balloon flight.

After conducting a series of rope tests, the two adventurers take a free flight in a hot air balloon with a person on board. Pilatre and d’Arlan flew from the garden of the palace of La Muette to Bute-au-Caillet at 2.00 p.m. in the presence of the king. Their flight lasts about 25 minutes. The balloon ascends to a height of 915 m. The two successfully land on the outskirts of Paris.

1916, after hitting a mine in the Aegean Sea, the twin ship of the “Titanic” – the liner “Britannic” – sank

Of the 1,300 crew and passengers on board the largest ship in the British Crown fleet, 30 perished.

The story of Britannic starts from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. After the sinking of the “Titanic”, the owner company “White Star Line” further strengthened the other two luxury liners “Britannic” and “Olympic”. The hull becomes double, the engine rooms and boiler rooms are strengthened and the watertight bulkheads from six become 15. The number of lifeboats is also increased. With its 48,158 tons and 269 m length, the ship looks even bigger and more powerful than the Titanic. It was intended for civilian navigation, but on November 13, 1915, the Admiralty requisitioned it and turned it into a hospital.

Repainted in white, with huge red crosses and a horizontal green stripe, the liner also gets a new name “Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship”. Captain Charles Bartlett is in command.

After five successful runs to the Middle East and back to the United Kingdom, transporting the sick and wounded, the Britannic set sail on her final voyage from Southampton to Lemnos at 2.23 pm on 12 November 1916. For five days everything went on as usual, but on the sixth, things turn around. On the morning of November 21, the ship approached the Greek island of Kia.

At 8:12 a.m., a powerful explosion rocked the Britannic. At this time the doctors and nurses are having breakfast in the dining room and the captain is on the bridge. The medics head to the hospital quarters and Bartlet orders the water barriers closed and sends out a distress signal. From the bridge he can clearly see the damage – it is clear that the explosion in the right part of the ship has damaged the waterproof bulkheads and four compartments are filled with water in a flash.

Just two minutes after the explosion, the fifth and sixth boiler rooms began to be evacuated. Within minutes, the position of the ship was the same as that of the Titanic one hour after the collision with the iceberg.

Captain Bartlett saw three miles off the coast of Kea Island and decided to make a last desperate effort to bring the ship closer to shore. At this point, his crew obeys orders without question. However, several stewards panic and try to seize the lifeboats. Thus, at 8.30 a.m., two boats began to be launched from the post of Officer David Laws without his permission. However, the boats hit the water hard, the vortex from the ship’s propellers sucked them into the engines, and instead of rescue, there was a bloodbath.

Bartlett, seeing that the water was coming in faster when the Britannic was moving, ordered the engines to be stopped. Seconds before the third lifeboat goes to pieces, the propellers stop and the people are rescued.

At 8.35 the captain officially gave the order to the crew to lower the boats. At 9:07 a.m., just 55 minutes after the explosion, the Britannic sank. However, the wounded and sailors are already in the boats. Greek fishermen from the island of Kea provided them with first aid.

1999. For the first time, a sitting US president made an official visit to Bulgaria. Bill Clinton is coming to Sofia at the invitation of President Petar Stoyanov.

While in our country, Clinton thanked Bulgaria several times for its consistent and firm pro-American position during the war against Yugoslavia. On November 22, at a rally in front of the Church-monument “St. Alexander Nevsky” the two presidents send messages to the Bulgarian people. During the visit, a bilateral Declaration was signed, which marks the beginning of relations of strategic partnership and cooperation.

Clint comes to Bulgaria after being found not guilty in late 1998 of two impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives: perjury and obstruction of justice. The perjury charges stemmed from Clinton’s testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky during the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones.


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