A monument that bows down to the feat of the heroes
The monument is dedicated to the Russian soldiers and Opalchentsi (Bulgarian voluntary troops) who perished while defending Stara Zagora on July 31, 1877 during the Russian-Turkish War for Liberation.
The monument was designed by the architect Atanas Donkov and it was built by the stone mason Zlati Amzov. The master Tenjo Ibusev, the sculptor Stoyan Stoyanov and the painter Petar Tsiporanov are responsible for the ornaments and the details on the memorial. The shape of the monument is a sarcophagus with a bronze lion standing on top. It was inaugurated in 1927 on the 50th anniversary of the battle for Stara Zagora while the lion symbolizing the power of the Bulgarians was placed two years later in 1929.
The monument reminds us of the unfathomable heroism of the entire Opalchentsi group but it is also a bow in particular to the self-sacrifice of the brave Russian warrior, Colonel Kalitin, the Savior of the Flag of Samara. In a way, he is the unifying representative of all those who died for the freedom of their town and their homeland.
Several months after the tragic yet triumphal battle, there was a special ceremony in Ploesti. A delegation from the town of Samara handed over to the Bulgarian voluntary armies the flag, which had golden nails on its handle. Colonel Kalitin was present and he swore that he would rather die than allow the flag to get into the enemy's possession.
And he kept his word. The following excerpt is an authentic recounting by the colonel from the reserves Stefan Kisov who was one of the saviors of the Samara Flag:
"Five people have already fallen under the flag, the wood of the flag itself is broken and the Turks keep advancing. While the remainders of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion were gathering around the flag, the enemy had regained strength and was launching again into battle; who know how many times already. Five more flag bearers fell down and died one after the other under the Samara flag. Then, Colonel Kalitin grabbed the flag from the last flag-bearing volunteer military who died, S. Minkov, he spurred his horse and he ordered: "Follow me forward!" ... The last words, the last order of a true hero! ... Precisely in that moment, the honorable leader of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion and the most courageous officer of the Resistance was pierced by two bullets and died. The flag was saved by the volunteer troops."