Alyosha monument on the Bunardzhika hill in Plovdiv

Alyosha also known as The monument of the unknown soldier is an 11-metre tall reinforced concrete statue of a Soviet soldier in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The statue has a 6-metre pedestal lined with granite. The memorial commemorates Soviet casualties incurred during the Turkish occupation of Bulgaria.

Bunardzhika is one of the seven hills of Plovdiv. The hill is popular with the name Alyosha, because of the monument at the top. Bunardzhika is the second highest hill in the city – 108 m above the sea level. Its name comes from the Ottoman word Bunar meaning a well, because of the numerous waterways located there. In Roman times it was also known as “Hill of Hercules” as there was a large statue of the mythical hero. At the footsteps of the Bunardzhika hill there is a restaurant, park and summer theater.

The whole monument is 16 meters tall and the statue alone is around 10.5 meters tall. Aloysha is a Soviet soldier with a uniform, raincoat and in his right hand, he is holding a gun – PPSh-41. The PPSh-41 is a Soviet submachine gun designed by Georgi Shpagin also known with the nickname “pa-pa-sha” from its three-letter prefix – “papasha” (Russian: папаша), meaning “daddy”.


Who is the unknown soldier?

The prototype for Alyosha’s face was Mr Alexei Ivanovich Skurlatov, a resident of the village Nalobiha in Kosihinsky region of Altai, signalman during World War II.  In 1944, while Skurlatov was working to restore telephone line Sofia – Plovdiv a sculptor drawed several sketches of him later used for making the figure of the soldier.

His appearance embodies the Russian soldier – tall, blond, with blue eyes. This impresses Bulgarian sculptors. Alexei Skurlatov was unaware of its granite counterpart in Bulgaria nearly a quarter-century until 1981 when it was announced the real name of the soldier, whose visage inspired the sculptors. Alexei was invited to visit Plovdiv and sees “Alyosha” for the first time on its 60th anniversary.

The building of the monument began in 1954 and it was officially erected on the 5th of November 1957.

Now  the  area  around  the  monument  is  used  for  many  social  and  sporting  events. The  panoramic  footpath  leading  to  the  Alyosha  statue is  one  of  the  best  places  in  Plovdiv  to  go  for  a  walk.


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