venerdì 12 giugno 2009
Shumen (Bulgarian: Шумен) is a city in the northeastern part of Bulgaria, capital of Shumen Province. The Turkish form of the name Şumnu dates back to the Ottoman Empire. From 1950–1965 it was called Kolarovgrad, after Vasil Kolarov. Other English variants include Shoumen and Šumen. The city has a population of 103,016 by permanent address (2006).
The city lies 80 km west of Varna and is built within a cluster of hills, northern outliers of the eastern Balkans, which curve round it on the west and north in the shape of a horse-shoe. A rugged ravine intersects the ground longitudinally within the horse-shoe ridge. From Shumen roads radiate northwards to the Danubian cities of Rousse and Silistra and to Dobruja, southwards to the passes of the Balkans, and eastwards to Varna and Balchik. Shumen has, therefore, been one of the most important military positions in the Balkan Peninsula.
In 811 Shumen was burned by the emperor Nicephorus, and in 1087 it was besieged by Alexius I. During the golden age of Bulgarian culture under Simeon the Great (866-927), Shumen was a centre of cultural and religious activity, and may have born the name Simeonis. Until the 15th century, the city was located around the Shumen Fortress, a sophisticated complex of defensive installations, religious and civil buildings.
In 1388 the sultan Murad I forced it to surrender to the Ottoman Turks. After Władysław Warneńczyk's unsuccessful crusade in 1444, the city was destroyed by the Ottomans and moved to its present location. In the 18th century it was enlarged and fortified. Three times, in 1774, 1810 and 1828, it was unsuccessfully attacked by Russian armies. The Turks consequently gave it the name of Gazi ("Victorious"). In 1854 it was the headquarters of Omar Pasha and the point at which the Turkish army concentrated (See Crimean War).
During the 19th century Shumen was an important centre of the Bulgarian National Revival, with the first celebration of Cyril and Methodius in the Bulgarian lands taking place on 11 May 1813 and the first theatre performance. A girls' religious school was established in 1828, a class school for girls and a chitalishte (community centre) followed in 1856. The first Bulgarian symphony orchestra was founded in the city in 1850. In the same year, influential Hungarian politician and revolutionary leader Lajos Kossuth spent a part of his exile in the then-Ottoman town of Shumen. The house he lived in is still preserved as a museum.
On the 22nd June 1878 Shumen finally capitulated to the Russians and became part of the newly-independent Principality of Bulgaria. In 1882 the Shumen Brewery, one of the first breweries in Bulgaria, was founded.
Shumen boasts the Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria, regarded as the only monument in the world to depict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day.
The Shumen Fortress, partially restored after being destroyed by the Ottomans in the past, is an important historical monument of the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It is located not far from the city on the Shumen Plateau.
The Madara Horseman, a World Heritage Site, is an ancient (710 AD) monument usually attributed to the Bulgar culture, and lies some 20 km from Shumen.
The religious buildings in the city include the Eastern Orthodox Holy Three Saints Cathedral and Holy Ascension Basilica, as well as the Tombul Mosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans, serving Shumen and the region's Muslim minority.