This post is a companion to the video blog I made about the monument, which you can view here:
As I turned off a busy intersection into the cobblestoned entrance to the Hill of the Liberators, I stopped at the small drinking fountain (one of many scattered about Plovdiv’s main thoroughfares).
An unseasonably hot October sun boomed down onto my skin, making me wonder why on earth I had bothered to wear my hoodie, as I prepared myself for the uphill climb to the humungous statue of a Soviet Solder, based on the likeness of Alyosha Skurlatov.
Skurlatov was a soldier in the 3rd Ukrainian Front, and passed at the grand old age of 91 in 2013.
The soldier stands at an intimidating 36 feet tall, atop a 20 foot pedestal which is lined with engravings of other Soviet soldiers. What is perhaps the most humbling privilege of being able to lay eyes on this marvellous work of art is that the Plovdiv authorities have tried twice in the 80s and 90s to have the statue demolished.
Thankfully they failed, and a preservation effort was set up to keep the statue not only standing, but in good condition. It is to those efforts we owe the fact we can see it today.
Standing at the base of such a huge statute, looking out over the vast and varied landscape of Plovdiv is humbling and mind blowing at the same time.
When I visited, fresh flowers sat in pots at Alyosha’s feet, and a small Russian flag billowed proudly in the light breeze.
Bulgaria, like many places in Europe, suffers with a bit of a graffiti problem, but it was nice to see that there wasn’t a scrap of it anywhere near the statue or the surrounding walls.
Whilst the walk to the top isn’t as exhausting as it initially seems to be from the bottom, when you’re at the top you feel like you have an unnaturally high view of the world from a human’s perspective.
There’s so much to take in, it’s truly difficult to put into words. It makes you feel so tall to look out over the tiny buildings and streets, but incomprehensibly tiny when you crane your neck to take in the scope of Alyosha himself.
The air is clear and clean, the sun that little bit hotter due to the lack of shade from the narrow streets below, but a breeze blows that counters the summer warmth nicely – on that note, I imagine it’s rather blowy in the colder months, so pick your visit dates to correspond with decent weather.
How to Get to Alyosha Monument
If you don’t fancy the potentially lengthy walk up to the monument’s entrance, taxis in Plovdiv are extremely cheap, and from around the Old Town area, it should only cost you 4-5 Leva (depending on the cab driver of course) to get there.
Taxis are everywhere, you just flag one down and check the fare before you get in. By law, Bulgarian taxis are obligated to run on the metre, but the fares are so reasonable you can simply ask.
If you’re up for a walk, however, I’ve embedded a map below from the H&M on the main thoroughfare in the centre of town (Ul. Knyaz Alexander I – near the ‘Together’ sign). From there it’s about a 30 minute walk through the non-tourist areas.
I personally recommend this route, as you get to see more of the ‘real’ Plovdiv, as opposed to just the parts designed for tourists’ eyes.
Where to Stay in Plovdiv that’s Nearby
The monument is by no means the only thing worth seeing when you visit Plovdiv, but it’s definitely something you should have at the tippy top of your list!
If you want to stay in the best location in Plovdiv, your best bet is going to be a hostel or a guest house.
Don’t worry if the thought of sharing bunks and bathrooms sends you into a cold sweat; there’s plenty of establishments where you can opt for private rooms without paying a small fortune.
Please note that the links below are affiliate links. This means, if you book one of the accommodations after clicking, I get a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.
This is about as basic as you can get, but the location is simply superb, offering many different ways to get into the main square, as well as different sightseeing locations.
I stayed here during my visit to Plovdiv, and paid around 170 Euros for two weeks in a private room, in early October 2019. It’s hard to beat that, especially since the entrance to the Old Town is literally across the street.
If you’re already in and around Plovdiv, and just want to stay near the monument for one night, then this rather charming accommodation is more or less at the base of the hill, but is a little further from the main thoroughfare and Kapana (the city’s bar and restaurant district).
In the end, whether your goal is to seek out spectacular cityscapes or some fascinating Bulgarian (and Russian) history, Alyosha Monument is something you absolutely don’t want to miss.