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March 3rd is the National Holiday of the Republic of Bulgaria, celebrated as a sign of the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. But how did it get here?

Bulgaria became a unified state, known as the First Bulgarian State, around 681 AD. The second Bulgarian state existed from 1185 to 1396, when it was taken over by the Ottoman Empire. Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule for almost 500 years.

Long story short… Two insurgent attempts against the Ottomans in 1875 and 1876 failed and left around 15,000 Bulgarians slaughtered. In 1877, Russia, under the leadership of Tsar Alexander II, faced off against the Ottomans. The climax of the war is Shipka, because it is where the most epic battle is fought. The Shipka detachment under the command of major-general Nikolay Stoletov was 7,500 soldiers and 27 cannons against the Central Ottoman Army under the command of Süleyman Pasha. After violent fighting and the loss of many lives, Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of San Stefano on March 3, 1878. The treaty created the Principality of Bulgaria, also known as the Third Bulgarian State.

On March 3rd, many official ceremonies and festive events are held throughout the country. Traditionally, on this day, the Bulgarian Army presents a guard of honour in front of the monument of the Russian Liberation Army in Sofia. Also, many concerts, parades, exhibitions and other cultural events are held, which mark the significance of this day for the Bulgarian people. You can read more about the holiday celebrations here: Celebrations on the occasion of March 3rd