The author Velichko Minekov was subjected to crossfire from party dignitaries
Architects named the monument the Hen
A lot of effort – not only physical, but also intellectual – cost the sculptor Velichko Minekov the monument of the Unification in Plovdiv. According to experts, this is one of the most beautiful monuments of the artist who passed away recently.
Exactly 37 years ago, the composition symbolizing the union of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia was solemnly opened, not by anyone, but by the first state and party leader Todor Zhivkov. For months, the local party leadership trembled, because the discontent against the monument was great.
The sculptor was subjected to crossfire
to explain what he wants to say with his project
First, the architects from the nearby building of the “Proektanska organization”, which now houses the prosecutor’s office, rose up. They disliked the project so much that they nicknamed it the Hen because of the two wings that rise from the composition.
Everything started at the beginning of 1985. Then the Central Committee of the BKP decided to erect a suitable monument in Plovdiv on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Unification of Bulgaria. The center of the celebrations, of course, had to be the city on the hills. In addition to a new monument, the party decided that a museum of the Unification should be made, as well as a jubilee sign.
The decision was submitted to the District Committee of the BKP for implementation, and from there the machine turned at full speed.
“There was no competition for the author’s decision on the monument
Its creation was directly entrusted to the sculptor Velichko Minekov, one of Bulgaria’s acclaimed artists”, Emil Stoitsov, then director of “Cultural-Historical Heritage” in the city, recalled for “24 Chasa”.
When Minekov presented the mock-up in the OC of the BKP, most of those present spoke sharply. “Are you sure this is the best,” they asked the creator.
However, architects rose first. According to them, the monument did not fit into this part of the urban environment. They made fun of him for looking like a chicken. Even among the guild slipped this ironic nickname. Of course, it was pronounced in a whisper, because after all the decision was the party’s.
Velichko Minekov tried to explain that the two wings symbolize the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. “Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, so young Bulgaria cannot exist divided,” the author reasoned. He added to the arguments that the beautiful maiden who rises in the middle of the composition, holding a wreath, symbolizes the young state.
“First Secretary Pantelei Pachov liked the idea and started its implementation,” recalls Stoitsov.
However, another dispute arose then.
The people of Plovdiv began to complain that because of this monument, they moved the Thursday market from the square
They protested that it is emblematic and is known throughout Bulgaria. However, there was no one to hear them.
“A frantic work began. And there wasn’t much time until September 6. Elena Mihailova from the District Council for Culture was especially dedicated. This woman gave out around the clock,” says Stoitsov. We had to go to Northern Bulgaria, where they poured details of the composition, and assembled them in Plovdiv,” he adds.
In parallel with the monument, the Unification Museum was built. The building had to be fundamentally rebuilt, as the children’s department of the “Ivan Vazov” National Library was housed there. The museum was ready in a few months. The artist of its entire exposition is Zlati Chalakov.
“All the magnificence of the building built for the National Assembly of Eastern Rumelia shone. The left wing of the museum was painted by Encho Pironkov. But at one point it was decided that the mural did not fit into the exhibition and then it was covered with paint in no time.” the ex-director of “Cultural and Historical Heritage” returns the tape.
In three months, the monument to the Union was completed along with the square around it.
Because it is made of bronze, it shone in the first months
in the sun, then darkened by the patina.
The monument was perceived ambiguously against the background of the partisan monuments of the time. However, the District Committee kept worrying about whether it would be approved by Dad.
The momentous event has come. People flocked to the square, honor companies were formed. The militia cordoned off the area, everything was under control.
Zhivkov appeared surrounded by local party bigwigs. First they took him to the renovated Museum of the Union. Dad didn’t have much time to look at it, however, as he had to cut the ribbon on the monument.
Suddenly he called out in his characteristic style: “Where are you, Velichko?”. Everyone froze because they understood that it was about the author of the monument. There was a terrible commotion.
Almost in a flash, the sculptor himself appeared. As soon as he saw him, Zhivkov, with his inherent sense of humor, exclaimed:
“Well, Velichko, you have made a great monument!”
The locals were so taken aback that at first they couldn’t believe their ears.
“What, what did Comrade Zhivkov say?” – the deputy head of the District People’s Council Margarita Delina asked her fellow party members in fear.
“He said the monument is very nice,” her friend replied.
“Did you hear? Comrade Zhivkov liked the monument very much!” – Delina almost shouted and ran to spread the news.
After Dad’s significant remark, the entire party and state leadership took a breather.
“It was nicknamed the Chicken. After Zhivkov’s assessment, everyone started to like the monument,” recalls Emil Stoitsov.
About 12 years ago, cracks appeared on the monument. Then Velichko Minekov personally came to oversee the consolidation of the composition. Traces of the welds were visible until recently, the patina erased them.
Workers inspect the monument shortly before removing the scaffolding from it.
The monument was cast in parts in Northern Bulgaria, then they were transported to Plovdiv and installed
Todor Zhivkov goes to cut the ribbon of the sculpture created by Velichko Minekov. The chief is pleased with his work.
The people rejoice at the holiday. After Dad’s approval, all objections to the Chicken fell away and people liked the spectacular figure.