Pantheon of National Revival Heroes – Ruse, Bulgaria - Atlas Obscura

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Pantheon of National Revival Heroes

Ruse, Bulgaria

A Soviet-style monument, built after transferring the remains of heroes from their graves. 


In the early morning of October 26, 1975, the city of Ruse, Bulgaria was shaken by the roar of bulldozers. Unexpectedly, the main church of the city, known as “All Saints,” was demolished and razed to the ground by the Communist regime. Misfortune would later befall all those involved in the desecration of the church; or at least, that’s what some people believe.

On February 28, 1978, three years after the destruction of the church and 100 years after the Liberation of Bulgaria, the Pantheon of National Revival Heroes was opened on the site of the former Church of All Saints. The bones of Bulgarian national heroes such as Baba Tonka, Zahariy Stoyanov, Stefan Karadzha, and Angel Kanchev were exhumed from the nearby cemetery and moved to the new structure.

Todor Zhivkov, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Head of State, personally attended the opening of the Pantheon, but because of his disappointment with its appearance, he did not deliver his intended speech or present the designers with the expected state awards. Instead, he asked whether something should be changed in the appearance of the building to make it harmonize with Ruse’s older architecture. “What is that Turkish bath?!” Zhivkov is said to have exclaimed. To this day, the people of Ruse have mixed feelings about the huge building, with its golden dome and strange appearance.

After this, the urban legend about the curse of the demolished church started to spread. No one knows for sure who dared to utter the heretical words: “Temples are never torn down, even with good intentions and noble motives.” Later on, a Christian cross was added on the top of the golden dome.  

Know Before You Go

The Pantheon is open daily from 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.

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June 17, 2024

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