The Vasil Levski Monument in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, was one of the first monuments to be created in the newly independent Principality of Bulgaria. It commemorates the hanging of Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian national hero and key revolutionary figure, on the same place on February 18, 1873.
The monument is 13 meters tall, is built of grey Balkan granite, and was created by Czech architect Antonn Kolá. The bronze bas-relief of Levski’s head, which is part of the monument, was produced by Josef Strachovsk (or, according to some accounts, Austrian artist Rudolf Weyr), while the stonecutting was done by Italian Abramo Peruchelli. It was dedicated on October 22, 1895, although it had been planned and worked on since Bulgaria’s liberation in 1878, with the building being hampered by a chronic lack of funding and carelessness, and lasting a total of 17 years. This sparked outrage among Bulgarian intellectuals of the period, with poet Konstantin Velichkov even labeling this irresponsibility in an 1881 poem.
A proposal for the monument had a big Christian cross atop a crescent, but it was discarded because it was religiously discriminatory and incompatible with Levski’s proper values in equality and tolerance.