Situated in Northwest Bulgaria and the Danubian Plain, Kozlodui belongs to the Vratsa province and is the second largest town after Vratsa. It is the administrative center of the Kozlodui municipality.
Kozlodui lies on the right bank of the Danube River, in the so called Zlatiya region known as Bulgaria’s granary. It is 129 km from Sofia. The rivers Ogosta and Tsibritsa run in its vicinity.
Initially, the town was located 3 km west of the Ogosta River, in the Chetate locality.
There are two versions of the etymology of “Kozlodui”: it derives either from the Turkish word “ kozludere” (a deep glen) or from a Latin word meaning “an ice corner”. It is not known when the settlement was relocated to its present-day site.
The Thracians were the earliest inhabitants of what is today Kozlodui. Archaeologists believe that the town was built on the site of a Thracian settlement from the Iron Age.
Valuable finds have been unearthed in its vicinity: remains of the Roman fort Regianum, a road station, Thracian imitations of the silver tetradrahmas from the reign of Philip II of Macedon; a bronze fibula 1featuring Emperor Constantine’s three sons (Constantine II, Constacius II and Constantius), Roman coins etc. Remains of the Proto- Bulgarian Hairedin trench 2 (7th-8th century) have also been found.
1 A metal safety pin used from the Late Bronze age to the early Middle Ages
2 A proto-Bulgarian earthwork, 24km long, 10 m wide and 2,20m high; west of the fortification is a moat, 2.40 wide and 3.50 m deep. It was erected in the late 7th century to defend the Bulgarian state from the north-west. It blocks the area between the right bank of the Danube River and the left bank of the Ogosta River, near what is today the village of Hairedin, Vratsa district. The trench was used until the early 9th century.
During the Roman era some Thracian settlements continued to exist in the Balkans. Such a settlement has been excavated in the center of Kozlodui, with a necropolis and Roman tombs made of bricks.
Some 14th century records refer to the settlement as “Kotosluk”. Traveller Domenico Sestini who visited the place in 1780 mentions that silkworm-breeding and leather-working were developed there. Local masters used smoke bush to work the leather.
During the Ottoman domination Kozlodui was repeatedly attacked and pillaged by kurjalis.
Following the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-9 hundreds of Bulgarian families from the villages on the right bank of the Danube moved to Wallachia. About a hundred families from Kozlodui went to the Romanian villages of Slobozia Sipati, Muchezhu, Serbescu, Djigera and Podu Zavalulu. After 1830 some returned to Kozlodui joined by Romanian peasants.
Around the mid-19th century Bulgarians from other parts of the country moved to Kozlodui. By a decree issued by Knyaz Ferdinand on June 5, 1901, about 105 poor families from the Bossilegrad county settled in Kozlodui.
The first school opened in 1865.
On May 17 (old style) Hristo Botev’s detachment disembarked the Radetzky passenger steamship at the Kozlodui bank.
On November 23, 1877 the town was liberated from Ottoman domination by the 8th cavalry regiment under Commander Alexandru Perets.
On 6 April 1970 the construction of an nuclear electric power plant began in Kozlodui. On December 31, 2004, under a parliamentary decree, Units 1 and 2 o were taken out of operation. Two years later Units 3 and 4 were likewise shut down. Today Kozlodui is on the list of the 100 Tourist Sites in Bulgaria selected by the Bulgarian Tourists’ Union.
Two tourist routes start from Kozlodoui: “Retracing the Steps of Botev’s Detachment– Kozlodui- Mount Okolchitsa” and the international water trek on the Danube River.
Cultural and historical monuments
Radetzky Museum Steamship
Its activities aim to disseminate information about Hristo Botev’s lifework, his band’s route, and the national-liberation movement. It was established in 1982 and consists of the Radetzky steamship and an art gallery opened in 1989-1990.
Today Radetzky steamship is anchored at the Kozlodui liman. Its reconstruction started in May 1966. Since 1993 it has been operating within the Bulgarian zone of the Danube River.
Tourists and lovers of history can stay on board the ship overnight. It has 40 beds. The ship lounge houses an exhibition but it can also be used for various cultural events, business meetings, and concerts. It is a replica of the lounge in the original ship of 1876. Among the displays is the inkstand and ink pen of the captain who commanded the ship on the night of hijacking.
All visitors receive badges Radetzki, folders with information about Botev’s detachment, the poet’s works etc.
The art gallery contains hundreds of works of sculpture, painting and black-and-white drawing.
The Austrian passenger ship Radetzky was constructed in 1851. It is named after Field- marshal Joseph Wenceslas Radetzky. His bust is placed at the ship’s prow. The ship operated a regular service on the Danube between Galati and Orshova.
The ship is a relic of Bulgarian history because Botev’s detachment hijacked it to go secretly to Bulgaria from Romania.
In April 1876 Hristo Botev, Nikola Obretenov and Georgui Apostolov began recruiting a detachment that was move to Bulgaria right after the declaration of the April Uprising. Hristo Botev was elected leader of the band.
On May 16 and 17 Radetzky steamer started a regular service to Vienna. It landed at several Romanian ports. Disguised as ordinary passengers Botev and his band boarded the ship at one of the ports.
Before commanding his men to take over the ship, Botev wrote his immortal letter to his wife Veneta and children. In it the voivode spells out his claims using the legendary sentence, “My will must be obeyed here”.
Botev handed a written ultimatum to Captain Dagobert Englander to anchor on the Bulgarian bank at Kozlodui. The captain obeyed and wished them good luck at parting.
The ship was used until 1918 and in 1924 it was decommissioned. In the early 1960’s a nationwide campaign for its reconstruction was launched and the donations collected in 1964-66 made it possible to construct an exact replica of the ship on the basis of old drawings and photos.
On the eve of the 90th anniversary of Botev’s death the ship was officially opened and declared a museum. Today it is on the list of 100 Tourist Sites in Bulgaria.
The Route of Botev’s Detachment
In 1954 a path was constructed following the route of Botev’s band from Kozlodui to Mount Okolchitsa.
After the Liberation from Ottoman domination volunteers created the first wooden monument in honor of Botev and his associates. Later the path was marked with stone signs and small commemorative plaques. On the 25th anniversary of the heroic feat of Botev’s band the base of a monument was laid. In 1926 a 4m-high east orthodox cross was placed on Mount Okolchitsa modeled on the crosses worn by the Bulgarian volunteers in the Russo-Turkish liberation war. In 1939 the construction of a monument on Mount Okolochitsa was completed. It is 28m high and is shaped like an eight-pointed cross. In 1947, for political reasons, the cross was replaced by a five-pointed star. In 1991 the original monument was restored.
In 1954 the path was flanked by trees and plants. A total of 10 wood parks were laid out around the historic sites and monuments.
Monument to Hristo Botev
In 1882 local folks from Kozlodui built a votive stone cross on the Kozlodui bank that still exists.
In 1932 a live monument to Hristo Botev was made in the Krushov Bair locality situated in the immediate vicinity of the port where Botev’s detachment disembarked. Botev’s initials are marked with acacia trees.
In 1947 cadets from the Royal Military Academy donated a bust of Hristo Botev to the inhabitants of Kozlodui. It is placed on a pedestal in the downtown.
Dagobert Englander was born in 1848 in the town of Baden near Vienna. The name of the captain of the Radetzky steamship will be for ever associated with the heroic deeds of Botev’s detachment. Thanks to his assistance, important papers were sent to Bulgaria connected with the seizure of the ship; a report to the central inspectorate in Vienna, statements of the Radetzky crew relating to the hijacking of the ship, memories of the captain about the event etc.
The report was written on May 30, 1876. It says that the steamer was attacked by rebels on May 29 (old style), approximately one hour after it sailed off the port of Beket. Six armed men forced the captain to hear the rebels’ claims. It also describes the negotiations with their leader, their uniforms and weapons; how the ship reached Kozlodui and continued its course.
The second document dated June 1, 1876 contains statements on the hijacking of Radetzky. The captain’s statement betrays genuine sympathy towards the cause of the Bulgarian freedom fighters. When the ship reached Vidin, the captain was ordered to take Turkish troops on board but he refused.
In 1888 Englander shared his memories of May 1876 with Zachary Stoyanov . In 1925 he sent several valuable objects to Bulgaria: the ship’s flag, original license and seal; a copy of the report the captain submitted to the Austro-Hungarian consuls in Russe and Vidin and the general inspectorate of the steamship company; a detailed account of everything that the captain saw that day; a copy of Botev’s letter to the captain and the passengers in French; two planks from Radetzky’s board. One had a hole on the spot Botev had stood when he ordered the captain to let him take control of the ship and disembark on Bulgarian territory.
Philip II was king of Macedon from 359 to 336 B.C. He was 23 years old when he ascended the throne. Philip was the youngest son of King Aminta and was born in Pela. During his reign Macedon became a centralized state. He restructured his army, improved the cavalry and laid the foundations of the military fleet of the kingdom of Macedon. Philip is the father of Alexander of Macedon and Philip III Arideus. Philipopolis, the largest city in Thrace (present-day Plovdiv) was named after him. Philip II was assassinated by plotters.
The kurjalis were bands of robbers of diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. They were active in the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire during the feudal internecine wars in the late 18th and early 19th century. The kurjalis joined forces with the rebellious pashas or ayans who fought against the central authority of the Sultan. They supported separatist movements and pillaged a large number of settlements on Bulgarian territory.
Radetzky Steamer National Museum
82 Hristo Botev Street
Open daily, 9:00 am- 6:00 pm
The ship offers sleeping accommodation.