Historical Museum Tutrakan

Category: Education

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A town raises up the steep hill near the ancient river in the westernmost parts of Danube Dobrudzha. Its houses, ascending tier upon tier up the steep slope, are reflected in the quiet water of the Danube river. West of the town the river's majestic flood offers a mesmerising prospect at sunset, when the sun is slowly sinking beneath the still waters. One town, one river – mutual destiny, drawn together for eternity, from their days of turbulent history and up to the present, our dynamic contemporaneity.


. Tutrakan is situated in the north-eastern part of the Danube plane. The town is a municipal center for 15 populated settlements, with a total territory of 440 square kilometers and population of 18 981 people.


The History Museum (Tutrakan) is dedicated to research, exhibition-planning, social and cultural-restoration activities. One of the branches of the History Museum is the Ethnography Museum "Danubian Fishing and Boat-Building", which opened in 1974 and is unique in Europe.   The focus of research of the Museum's specialist is on the study of the history of Tutrakan and making it popular. The archives "First World War" and "The Epic of Tutrakan" of the Central Military Archive have been thoroughly researched, the names of all  who died in those campaigns have been collected.


The Historical museum of Tutrakan organizes archaeological investigations in the areas of Tutrakan and Glavinitsa municipalities. Over 150 officially registered archaeological sites are situated in the bounds of the Tutrakan municipality. The most important sites from the prehistoric age are the mound settlement from the Late Halkolithic culture Karanovo VI - Kodjadermen - Gumelnitsa and the complex of settlements from the the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Ages, represented by the cultures Glina VI, Tei I, III and Coslodjeni. The Iron Age is presented in 12 settlements and one wide mounded necropolis near the village of Brenitsa. The foundation of the ancient town of Transmarisca is associated with the establishment of the Roman domination in the territories of the Lower Danube. In the I-st century Roman settlers founded the Transmarisca place - an important military station in the defense system of the Lower Danube boundaries. There are 20 villages, 4 castles and 1 Roman villa from the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period in the area of the Tutrakan municipality. The main center of this area was Transmarisca, which accepted the status of "town" in this period. During the III-rd century emperor Diocletian visited the town and included it in his extensive building program. An evidence for this was found - an imperial inscription from 298-299 AD. At this time Transmarisca was one of the four biggest military and administrative centers in the bounds of province Lower Moesia. In the V-VI-th centuries the town was a center of bishopric. Transmarisca is one of the most thoroughly investigated Roman castles in Bulgaria situated under modern towns. Four turrets and a big part of the castle walls were discovered. The archaeological excavations prove that the Roman castle existed till the beginning of the VII-th century. . Fragment of chapitel, ІІ-ІІІ century.


The Bulgarian settlement Tutrakan was set up with the establishment of the Bulgarian state. The name of the new town comes from the prebulgarian military and administrative title "tamantarkan" and can be translated from Arabian-Turkic language as "Town of the tarkan, who defends." At that time in the bounds of the present municipality there were 15 settlements which were part of the most sophisticated defensive earthy fortification in the early-medieval Bulgaria. It included embankment with ditch and four earthy mounds. ‘Gema’ with portrait of Atina Palada Clay lamp, 2th - 6th century A.D. Part of exposition of Historical museum


From the end of VII-th till the beginning of IX-th century Tutrakan was the center of one of the military and administrative provinces of Bulgaria. At the time of the political crisis in the VIII-th century a representative of the local dynasty of Tarkans was elected for king of Bulgaria. His family crest, which displays an eagle over the river Danube in the form of a stamp, is kept in England. Here Tsar Simeon was besieged by the Magyar cavalry and the Byzantine fleet during the Bulgarian-Magyar-Byzantine wars in 894-895. As result of the sequent parleys the Bulgarian tsar achieved a great diplomatic victory. Later the town was object of devastating nomad attacks. In the XII-th century the Arabian geographer Idrisi described the castle as a prosperous economic centre. In the end of XIV-th century Tutrakan was in the bounds of the kingdom of Turnovo. It is mentioned under the name "Tutrakan" in written sources from the XV-th century, while other source materials prove the existence of the castle during the Turkish domination.   The Goddess Hekata Marble votive tablet, the ІІ-ІІІ century Part of exposition of Historical museum


Part of exposition of Historical museum Archaeology


Late Roman castle Transmarisca. A part of the northern castle wall with two four-cornered turrets and another part of the southern castle wall with a four-cornered and a cornered fan-formed turret are discovered during the archaeological excavations. The fortification is founded in the end of the III-th century end exists till the beginning of the VII-th century. Settlement in the site "Gjaur Punar". It dates from the Late Halkolitic-culture "Gumelnitsa - Kodjadermen - Karanovo VI". Roman villa in the site "Gjaur Punar" - It is build in the II-th and exists till the III-th century. Complex of settlements from the Bronze Ages in the site "Gjaur Punar". Here are represented the following cultures - "Pit's culture", "Glina VI" /Early Bronze Ages/; "Tei I", "Tei II" /Middle Bronze Ages/; "Koslodjeni" /Late Bronze Ages/. Earth-mound along the Danube riverside. It begins 3 km west-point away of Tutrakan and reaches the village of Brashlen. The ditch is situated at the north side. At the south side there are 4 earth fortifications. The earth-mound is 16 km long. It dates from the VIII-IX-th century and is one of the most sophisticated earth fortifications in Early Bulgaria. Late Roman castle "Mediolana" near the village of Nova Cherna. It covers about 9000 sq.meters area. The castle has existed from the beginning of the IV-th century till the beginning of the VI-th century. Early Byzantine castle "Kinton" in the site "Mal Tepe". It covers 5000 sq.meters area. This castle is built in the beginning of the VI-th and is perished at the end of the same century. Roman earth-camp near the village of Dolno Rjahovo in the site "Ljaskovets". Dimension - 4700 sq.meters. Date - II-III-th century. Late Roman castle "Nigrinianis" near the village of Dolno Rjahovo in the site "Bairaktar chair". It is built at the end of the III-th or beginning of the IV-th century. In the end of the IV-th century the castle is perished. Late Roman castle "Candidiana" in the site "Marata" near the village of Malak Preslavets. It is found during the end of the III-th and beginning of the IV-th century and existed till the end of VI-th and beginning of the VII-th century. From the last quarter of the III-th till first half of the IV-th century here is functioned "figlina" as a part of the IX-th Claudius legion. Thracian settlement and Early Bulgarian castle in the site "Iri Hisar" near the village of Podles /Glavinitsa district/. The castle dates from the IX - XI-th century. It's area is about 62 500 sq.meters. Neolithic settlement near the village of Malak Preslavets. Here are represented the Early Neolithic cultures "Gradeshnitsa" and "Starchevo-Krish.


The ancient fortress “Transmariska” 3rd century A.D. In the first century Roman settlers establish the town of Transmariska – an important post for the defence of the lower Danube border. In the third century emperor Diocletian visits the town and includes it in a large-scale construction program. Proof of this is the discovered imperial inscription from 298-299. The castle is one of the four largest military and administrative centers at the border of Lower Miziya, and in the fifth and sixth century Transmariska hosts the episcopate.


The ancient fortress “Transmariska”


Inscription-Diocletian /284-305/


The ancient fortress “Transmariska”


The ancient fortress “Transmariska”


   The icons date back to the middle of the 19th century, and belong to the so-called "Tryavna art-school". Zacharii Tsanyuv was an icon-painter from the Zacharievi family. The family patriarch of the painter family is Krystyu. His son Zacharii taught the art of icon painting to his three sons - Krystyu, Ivancho and Tsanyu, and gave the family its name. Zacharri Tsanyuv (1816-1866), a descendant from this family, was particularly productive, and his icons can be found not only the churches and monasteries in the vicinity of Tryavna but all over Dobrudja as well. His icons are very fine, with exquisitely drawn lines. The figures are calm, with clear-cut beautiful face features.


Icon hall


Since the beginning of the 18th century Russia had a very active internation politics in the region regarding the Ottoman Empire. The major part of the battles took place in Dobrudja. In 1773 General Al. Suvorov occupies Tutrakan twice. The fortress was completely destroyed in the beginning of the 19th century during one of the Russo-Turkish wars. Tutrakan was included in the plans of the Bulgarian national liberation movement. In 1867 the squad of Panayot Hitov passed through the town, with Vassil Levski as the standard-bearer, and in 1876 the squad of Tanyo Stoyanov - Voivoda, which was part of the Epic of Aprilovo. Many volunteers from Tutrakan took part in the last Russo-Turkish war of 1877/1878.


After the Liberation Tutrakan was famous for being the largest fishing centre along the Lower Danube. At the same time the town was the major producer of river vessels from Middle Europe to the delta. At the end of the 19th century - beginning of the 20th century Tutrakan was established as a major commercial, administrative and cultural centre. Russian and Austrian passenger ships frequented its port.  The river brought to the town European civilisation. The town was a regional centre comprising of 45 villages. At the beginning of the 20th century there were two book publishers that made popular books by Bulgarian and foreign world-wide known authors, and six schools, including a professional school. The town was blooming until 1913, when complying with the Bucharest agreement the end to the Interallies War was announced. Tutrakan was transferred to Roumanian power. Roumanian military regiments were stationed in the town. After Bulgaria joined in the First World War  it gained back the lost territories.


Decorative wall paintings


After the Peace Treaty of Neuilly of November, 27th 1919 South Dobrudja again became possession of the Roumanian Kingdom. On September 7th 1940 in Krayova a treaty was signed, which in itself was a precedent worldwide, according to which Dobrudja was peacefully reinstituted to Bulgaria. One of its clauses refers to the exchange of the two national groups, Bulgarians and Roumanians and 4237 Roumanian colonists were made to leave, and were replaced by Bulgarians from Northern Dobrudja. This led to a number of economic difficulties but despite this fact the economic and cultural life in the town was revived.


The Tutrakan municipality is distinguished with his variegated ethnographical population. Old native habitants - so called "grebentsi" – live in the villages of Staro Selo, Belitsa, Varnentsi and Pojarevo. Comparatively wide group formed the "balkandjii", who migrated here in the beginning of the 20-th century and spread their specific customs and habits among the native habitants. They live in the villages of Shumentsi and Varnentsi. According to the contract of Krayova and the agreement for population exchange between Bulgaria and Romania, in the 1940-1941 many Bulgarian immigrants settled in South Dobrudja. These are so called "preseltsi", who live in the villages of Nova Cherna, Shumentsi, Belitsa and Varnentsi. The native Turkish population is one of the main ethnical groups in the Tutrakan municipality which dominate in the villages of Tsar Samuil and Tarnovtsi. In Preslavtsi live so called "Kazalbashi". They are Moslems, but they follow the testaments of Ali - the brother-in-low of Mohamed.


  The most important holidays among the Christians in the Tutrakan district are "Gergyovden" and "Nikulden". St. George is respected as the patron of the herds and shepherds. As we know the first settlers in these regions are shepherds. The holiday begins on May 6-th. People believe that on this day Good and Evil Forces come to the World and fight between themselves. If the Good Forces win this fight, the year becomes fertile. The other wide spread holiday is "Nikulden". It is related to fishing - an important livelihood in the region - and celebrates on December 6-th. During this day people eats only fishing foods. The Moslem population keeps different holidays. The most popular among them are "Ramazan Bayram" and "Kurban Bayram". "Ramazan Bayram" begins 10 days later than it was in the previous year. It continues three days in which people prays for forgiveness. "Kurban Bayram" is celebrated two month and ten days after "Ramazan Bayram".People are offering a domestic animal as a sacrifice at this holiday. The meat is given to the poor people. In the district of Tutrakan there are some cult sites. Two of them are respected from "kazalbashi" as "Softí baba tekke" and "Ali baba tekke". "Softí baba tekke" is situated in the bounds of Tutrakan. People respect him as a saint.


Part of exposition of Historical museum They believe that he hears their prayers from all over the world. It is interesting that there are no restrictions on prayers' religion - they can be Christians, Judean, Buddhist ... "Ali baba tekke" is more popular. In the Bulgarian folk exists a legend about curative possibilities of Ali baba who had healed tzar Ivan Shishman's daughter. To express his gratitude the tsar had given him an area to build a monastery. It is situated near the village of Varnentsi. Another cult place is the site "Camping". People say that here was a great religion center but in our days this area is become a camping.


One of the most famous battles of the Bulgarian army during the wars of national union was the battle for the Tutrakan’s fortress. The exhibition “The battle for Tutrakan” presents this expansive battle, beside the white Danube, which marked the beginning of the Bulgarian army’s campaign to regain Dobruja. After the First and second Balkan and the following economic collapse, Bulgaria signed a peace accord on July 28, 1913. Southern Dobruja became part of Romania and the newly appointed Romanian government invested considerable resources into the consolidation of the new border. For two years they transformed Tutrakan into one of the most powerful strongholds on the new border as a result of its close proximity to Bucharest and the city’s other strategic advantages for military activity within the territory of Bulgaria. The fortress had 15 stations measuring 1-2 kilometers, placed one after the other on two parallel lines, using ground and concrete defenses, equipment, machine gun embankments, and three rows of wire.


On September 1, 1916, Bulgaria in order to protect the nation’s pride, declared war on Romania. Against the strong forces of Romania, Bulgaria assembled part of the 3rd Bulgarian army, the 4th Preslatsi infantry division, the 1st Sofia division, Danubian Bulgarian-German force and sections under the general command of the head of the 4th Preslatsi division General-Mayor Panteley Kiselov which included 55,000 people, 132 pieces of equipment, and 53 machine guns. The battle began on the morning of September 5th and in spite of a strong defense by Romania into the night, the front line fell. The next day, the Bulgarian army continued the onset. At 3:30pm the Romanian garrison surrendered and at 6pm, General Panteley Kiselov entered the newly liberated Tutrakan. The Bulgarian army took captive 450 officers, 28,000 soldiers, and all their armaments. The quick battle of Tutrakan was the beginning of the liberation march into Dobrodja. Within the memorial “War tomb – 1916” – eternal peace is found for 8,000 soldiers and officers from different nation of which 1764 are Bulgarians.


Memorial-the monument that unites two nations


The Complex is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria; it is dedicated to the Bulgarian soldiers who lost their lives in the wars for national unification. Since the major battles were fought outside the contemporary Bulgarian borders, the Memorial is a sacral monument of national importance. About 8000 Bulgarian, Roumanian and German soldiers who died in the 1916 Battle for the Tutrakan Fortress  were buried there. Immediately after the epic battle of Tutrakan, the commandment of 4Preslav Infantry Division takes the decision to bury all dead soldiers in Fort N 6 of the Roumanian fortification line of the fortress. During two weeks people from Tutrakan and neighbouring villages carried the corpses of the dead Bulgarian, Roumanian, German and Turkish soldiers to the burial ground in bull-carts. The soldiers from the now Bulgarian regiment of Tutrakan put wooden crosses with the names of the dead soldiers, while the unknown soldiers were buried in common graves.


On September 6th, 1917 the first anniversary of the heroic epic was commemorated. On the same day a foundation was established to erect a monument to the liberators of the town who had sacrificed their lives, and the collection of donations began. The ensuing Roumanian occupation slowed down the project.  In 1922 the Roumanians built a monument - which has been preserved till nowadays in the memorial complex - upon which it is written in four languages: "Those who could die like heroes protecting their motherland, are worthy to be honoured and cherished".  During the years of occupation little care was taken of the memorial.


After South Dobrudja was reinstated to Bulgaria as a result of the Krayova Treaty of September 7th, 1940, on October 28th 1940 the new authorities in Tutrakan and the Blagodetel Society of retired army officers restored the foundation called "September 6th", and launched a petition for the building of a mausoleum where the remains of the heroes would be hosted.  1942 the wooden crosses were replaced with stone crosses, and the memorial was surrounded by a wooden fence. In this form the memorial was preserved until the beginning of the 80's. The initial restoration and reconstruction of the complex was done in 1983-1986.


In 1986 the complete reconstruction and architectural redesign began. By 2002, according to a project ratified by the National Institute for the Monuments of Culture, the entrance, the park with a podium for official celebrations, the postaments for the guns were built, as well as the Alley of Glory where the names of the dead Bulgarian soldiers are listed. A chapel is planned to be built. Every year, during the first Sunday of September, thousands of people, relatives of the heroes and other patriots,  gather together to commemorate the memory of the heroes of the epic of Tutrakan.


  The Ethnographical Museum “Danubian fishing and boat – building” was founded in 1974 and is unique in the countries in the valley of the river Danube. It was founded in order to preserve the rich material and spiritual culture, the social structure and the way of life of the Bulgarians from the Danubian fishermen’s settlements. It is not by accident that the Museum is exactly in Tutrakan, because fishing was a basic mean of livelihood of the population in this region from the Antiquity till today. Fish, cod-liver oil, caviar were being exported from here to the interior of the country and to various European countries.


The exposition is arranged in seven halls and two interiors, in a building – a monument of the culture from the beginning of the 20-th century. Original fishing devices from the Antiquity and used in the contemporaneity tools and equipment are presented in a chronological sequence. Original fishing rods and hooks from bone and copper, harpoons, clay leads for fishing nets, iron orifices, different types of nets, made by Tutrakan fishermen from vegetal fibers – sturgeon net, fishing – net, perch pike – net, small fry fish – net, etc. are shown. Photographs and black and white drawings explain the way of fishing in the settlements along the Lower Danube. Except the shown fishing belongings, you can get an idea about the social organization of the fishermen, accountancy, the inner structure of their homes, their spiritual culture.


Part of exposition of Ethnographical museum


A place is devoted also to the boat – making, which is developing in the region since the Roman period, when there was a vessel repair workshop in the antique fort. In the end of the 19-th century boats from Tutrakan were being exported to Romania, Serbia, Austria, etc. The exposition of the Museum is a part of the enormous ethnographical legacy of the population of Tutrakan region and the settlements along the river Danube. The dynamic processes in this region and the mixing of different cultures lead to the variety and richness of fishing devices, preserved in the Ethnographical museum


The Ethnography Museum "Danubian Fishing and Boat-Building" in Tutrakan hosts a collection of minerals from the National Museum "The Eart and the People". The exposition comprises 184 items, 53 of which are donated to the History Museum in Tutrakan. The following thematic collections can be observed: Precious and gem stonesEarth minerals Bulgarian mineralsAcademic collection "Mineral Resources"Minerals: variety and resources of North-East BulgariaGiant crystals Precious stones and gems - these are the most attractive group of minerals, the so-called "aristocracy" of the mineral realm. In order to belong to this group, the mineral should comply with certain standards of beauty - clarity, purity, bright uniform colour, exquisite shine, light-play (opalescence, asterism); longevity - that is, to be hard enough and thermostable and chemically resistant, as well as to render itself to polishing and buffing well.


You can see some of the most valued and popular, ever since ancient times, precious stones and gems: emerald, aquamarine, morganite, tourmaline (rubellite, verdelite, indigolite), amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, garnet, amazonite, jade, rhodolite, agate. Minerals of the Earth - a systematic collection of minerals from all over the world in which all kinds of minerals are arranged according to classes in the chemical classification system - native elements, sulphides and sulphosoles, oxides and hydroxides, halogenides, borates, phosphates, arsenites, vanadates, wolframites, chromates, molibdates, sulphates, carbonates and silicates. Minerals of Bulgaria - the exposition comprises of minerals of high aesthetic value, that have been found in the Rhodope mountains, Rila, Vitosha and Sakar - gallenites, sphalerite, quartz, staurolite, fluorite, volastonite, actinolite, opal, marble onyx. Academic collection "Mineral Resources" - metal and non-metal mineral resources; namely: Metal - iron ores - magnetite and hematite; copper ores - chalkopyrite; lead ores - galenite; chrome ores - chromite; aluminium ores - bauxite; Non-metal - quartz, calcite, feldspar, gypsum, fluorite, mica (muscovite), talcum, magnesite.Giant crystals - four prominet specimens from the collection of the National museum "The Earth and the People" are exhibited - quartz, orthoclase and mountain crystal with inclusions of tourmaline from Pedra Alta, Brazil and geoda of mountain crystal with inclusions of goethite from Marrakesh, Morocco.


HISTORICAL MUSEUM-TUTRAKAN pl.Suvorov 1, 7600 Tutrakan,BULGARIA тел. + 359 857 / 6-12-35, 6-13-45 e-mail: tutrakanmuseum@abv.bg www.tutrakanmuseum.org

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