11 August, 2011
I arrived in Pleven after a four hour bus trip from Vidin. The foremost tourist attraction in Pleven is probably the Pleven Panorama, in a round building in a park on a hill overlooking the city. A Panorama is a large painting wrapped around 360 deg, usually depicting a battle scene. They are also often foregrounded by real objects (e.g. cannons, carts) with landscaping, creating a 3D optical illusion where it is hard to tell where the objects end and the painting begins. I saw two last year, in Wroclaw, Poland (Polish-Russian battle) and Sevastopol, Ukraine (Britain/France vs Russia, Crimean War). Both had interesting back-stories, having been hidden for protection during WW2. The Panorama in Pleven depicts the decisive battle of the Russia-Turkey war of 1877 which led to the end of 500 years of Ottoman rule. The building housing it is on the actual site of the battle. It was painted in 1977 by a team of Russian artists and is 115m long by 5m high.
I also visited the art gallery housing part of the collection of artist Svetlin Rusev. Bulgarian artists works were displayed, as well as works by some famous foreign artists including Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Renoir, Rodin and Degas.
Motorbike racing enthusiasts will probably have recognised Pleven as one of the stages of the Moto GP tour.