In recent years, tens of thousands of Bulgarians have massively visited the municipalities in the Western outskirts of neighboring Serbia. The largest number of Bulgarians meet in Tsaribrod, Pirot and Nis, and especially during holidays and weekends, reports a BGNES reporter.
Usually, the news about the “Bulgarian landing” in these places is associated with restaurants and spa centers. In the monotonous reports, there is constant talk about the lower prices of tourist services and the permission to smoke freely everywhere.
In Pirot, which in the Middle Ages was called Momchilovgrad, one of the symbols and beauty of the city is located – the Momchilov fortress. Located next to the Nishava River, the fortress was built in the 14th century by the famous Bulgarian ruler from the Rhodopes, Momchil Voivode. Until the Liberation from Ottoman slavery, Pirot was an entirely Bulgarian town. Serbian penetration began in the 19th century. Nowhere around the Momchilova fortress, which has been a Cultural Monument since 1979, is there any information sign that it is Bulgarian. There is not even any data on the “Serbian” legend, which claims that it was built by Prince Lazar.
The lack of information about the two Bulgarian churches – “Nativity”, better known to everyone in the city as the “Market” church – is also deafening. It was built in 1834 by Bulgarian masters, just like the “Assumption”, created by Nikola Yovanov, a painter from the Samokov school. The murals clearly show the Bulgarian character and origin of the two churches. The lack of information boards clearly hides the desire to rewrite the past, as it has been in these places since 150 years ago.
And there are no signs in Pirot, especially in the central part, in memory of “the victims of the occupier or those killed by the collaborators of the enemy”.
And, of course, “in the spirit of good neighborly relations and respect for the rights of the Bulgarian national minority in Serbia”, every year there are celebrations in memory of the “victims of the Bulgarian fascist occupier”. And they must be attended by one or another minister from Belgrade. Probably so that the “friendship between the two brotherly peoples” does not suffer.
When asked by a BGNES reporter if we were in the church built by the Bulgarians, the priest in one of them answered with a frown: “There is nothing Bulgarian here, everything here is common, Balkan.”
It was needless to ask for more clarification about what it means – common Balkan.
With such a massive Bulgarian presence for the market or for recreation, with minimal effort, the local authorities can increase their income and profits from our tourists – by pointing out the rich cultural and historical heritage. But the truth is scarier than money and profits, no matter how big they are.