Plеven is a city in central northern Bulgaria, the administrative and economic center of the homonymous municipality Pleven and Pleven region.
The town is in the Central part of the Danube lowland, located at almost equal distance from the Danube River and the Balkan mountain range. It is 35 km north of Lovech, 145 km southwest from Ruse, 170 km northeast from the capital city of Sofia and 300 km west of Varna.
The access to the town by the Danube River is realized at the river port Somovit that stands away 30 km from Pleven. Presently, activities are being carried out to provide possibilities to use one of the near by military air fields for civil and transportation flights.
Its altitude is about 116 m.
As of February 2011 the city had a population of 106,954 people and is the seventh largest in Bulgaria.
The climate characterizes with hot and dry summer while the winter is cold. Numerous of rains fall during the months of June and February. The region is one of the areas with lots of hails in Northern Bulgaria.
The soils are characterized with their variety but humus ones are predominating. The great part of the agricultural lands is impressing 79% at the average for the country 65%. The crops raised are mainly wheat, corn, and sunflower. The orchard trees are apple, pear, queen, cherry-tree, apricot and nut-trees. Vine growing is dominant for municipality – over 12 000 decares. In 1980 the first in the country Viticulture school is opened and several years later - the first wins-cellar. The town is established as viticultural center.
Pleven is not only an administrative-economic, but also an educational center of a large region. Today in Pleven has 24 kindergartens, 24 secondary and 13 professional schools. The network of schools is composed of specialized schools (mathematical, linguistic, musical, sports and financial business) and modern technical courses.
The city offers opportunities for acquiring higher education. The Medical Institute teaches about 760 future doctors, including about 380 foreigners. Training is conducted by highly qualified teachers in modern equipped facilities and practical training and specialization in the Institute Hospital.
The Medical College of Pleven prepares health staff in four specialties, nurses, therapists, midwives and laboratory technicians.
In Pleven there is a branch of the Veliko Tarnovo University "St. Cyril and Methodius".
Pleven is a transport hub. There are regular bus lines to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Lovech, Troyan, Levski and other smaller settlements.
The central bus station is located in the northern part of the town, on "Republic" square. Near the same square is the railroad station.
Pleven is situated on the main railway line Sofia-Gorna Oryahovitsa-Varna.
Prehistory and Antiquity
The earliest traces of human settlement in the area date from the 5th millennium BC, the Neolithic.
The central streets of Pleven
Numerous archeological findings, among them the largest golden treasure found in Bulgaria, evidence for
the rich culture of the Thracians, who have inhabited the area for thousands of years.
In the beginning of the new era, the region became part of the Roman province of Moesia, and a road station called Storgosia arose near present-day Pleven on the road from Oescus (near modern Gigen) to Philippopolis (now Plovdiv), that later evolved into a fortress. One of the most valued archeological monuments in Bulgaria from the period is the Early Christian basilica from the 4th century found near the modern town.
During the Middle Ages, Pleven was a well-developed stronghold of the First and Second Bulgarian Empire. When Slavs populated the region, they gave the settlement its contemporary name (Pleven comes either from the Slavic word "plevnya" ("barn") or from "plevel", meaning "weed", that share the same root). The name is first mentioned in a charter by Magyar King Stephen V in 1270 in connection to a military campaign in Bulgarian lands.
During Ottoman rule, known as Plevne in Ottoman Turkish, Pleven preserved its Bulgarian appearance and culture. Many churches, schools and bridges were built at the time of the Bulgarian National Revival. In 1825, the first secular school in the town was opened, followed by the first girls' school in Bulgaria in 1840, as well as the first boys' school a year later. Pleven is the place where Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski grounded the first revolutionary committee in 1869, part of his national rebel network.
Siege of Pleven
The city was a major battle scene during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 that Russian Tsar Alexander II held for the purpose of liberation of Bulgaria. The joint Russian and Romanian army paid dearly for the victory, but it paved the path to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in this war, and the restoration of Bulgaria as a state. It cost the Russians and Romanians 5 months and 38,000 casualties to liberate the town after four assaults in what was one of the decisive battles of the war.
The 1911 Britannica concluded its lengthy entry on Pleven (transcripted as Plevna) with the memorable dictum: "Plevna is a striking example of the futility of the purely passive defence, which is doomed to failure however tenaciously carried out. Victories which are not followed up are useless. War without strategy is mere butchery."
The events of the Russo-Turkish War proved crucial for the development of Pleven as a key settlement of central northern Bulgaria. The town experienced significant demographic and economic growth in the following years, gradually establishing itself as a cultural centre of the region.
On the territory of Pleven function: Dramatic Theatre "Ivan Radoev", Pleven Philharmonic with open opera scene "Hristo Brambarov", Cinema ARENA in "Central Mall - Pleven", Cinema My Cinemas in "Mall Pleven", Museum "Tsar Liberator Alexander II ", the Regional History Museum, the Art Gallery" Elijah Beshkov", Wine Museum, etc.
Pleven is famous as a town of museums. The development of mankind civilization may be traced down from Neolith till present days. Remnants of pre-historical settlements of Cooper era, Roman settlements and fortress, medieval stock breeding and agricultural villages are to be found on the territory of municipality.
In the beginning of XX century by voluntarily raised funds the committee "Tsar Liberator Aleksandar II" and chairman the notable public figure Stoyan Zaimov there commence the construction of memorial houses, museums, parks and monuments.
The "Skobelev" park is located on the very battle field were the detachment of General Skobelev conducts blood shedding battles to seize Pleven. Since then till nowadays the blood saturated lands there is called "The death valley". In a unique and strongly impressive way the one and the only on Balkan peninsula Panorama "Pleven Epopee 1877" is emerging. The building symbolized the three storms of the town's blockade. The bone-vault, House-museum "Stoyan and Vladimir Zaimovi", authentic guns, tenths of common mounds and monuments are located in the park.
The Russian Emperor Aleksandar II is accommodated on 11.12.1877 in an ordinary town's house were the captured Turkish Marshal Osman pasha was presented to him. In this house lives and the first military governor of Pleven, General Skobelev. Later on the house is turned into a museum.
The chapel-mausoleum "St. George the Victorious" was built in 1907. The bones of Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Belarus, Moldavian soldiers who laid down their lives for Pleven are kept in a crypt. Iconostasis and icons have been made by famous Bulgarian masters.
Indisputable indicator for the traditions and achievements of generations of museum employees is the regional Museum of history. It is arranged in a unique building, constructed for military barracks in 1888. The items in the museum include over 250 thousands exhibits of ancient time, medieval and most modern history of Pleven and region. The collections and the exhibits of the museum are authentic treasure-house for cultural and historical valuables.
Park "Kaylaka" is located south of Pleven and was declared a protected area. Kaylaka is located about 10 thousand acres in karst valley of Tuchenitsa river. There are ponds and dams, boats and pedalos, swimming pools, hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs, playgrounds, tennis courts, a zoo and a unique restaurant, entirely built in a cave. In the park there is also an open-air theater and the only one of its kind in Bulgaria - Wine Museum.
In the park are the ruins of the ancient fortress Storgozia. Here is the historical name of the dam "Totlebenov shaft", also rich in many protected animal and plant species.