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Settlements: Biala

The town of Biala (approximately 11 000 inhabitants, 60 metres above sea level) is situated along the Yantra River in the central part of the Danube Plain. It is 294 km north-east of Sofia, 52 km south-west of Rousse, 54 km north of Veliko Turnovo, 45 km south-east of Svishtov, 93 km east of Pleven and 50 km north-west of Popovo.

History: The name Biala (White) comes from the colour of the surrounding limestone rocks. The settlement emerged around 1596 and was mentioned for the first time in 1618. In 1831-1837 there was an outbreak of an epidemic of plague. Felix Kanits described the settlement in 1871 as a craftsmans centre with a bazaar and many workshops. In 1845 Petko R. Slaveikov was a teacher in this town. After the April Uprising was put to rout, one of its last tragedies took place in the town of Biala. Pursued by a Turkish horde and trying to cross the river and escape Panaiot Volov, Georgi Ikonomov and Stoyan Angelov drowned in Yantra. At the time of the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation, the Headquarters of the Russian Commander Emperor Alexander II was located in the town of Biala. After the Liberation Biala had about 4000 inhabitants. In 1891 it obtained the status of a town.

Landmarks: The Military-Historical Museum War of Liberation (2, Julia Vrevskaya Street, tel. 0817 2466) is in the old house in which the Headquarters of the Russian Army was accommodated. A beautiful park is situated in the surrounding area where old guns and a part of the pontoon bridge, which was used by the Russian troops to cross the Danube River near Svishtov on 27th June 1877, are exhibited. Here is the tomb of Baroness Julia Vrevskaya, who was a volunteer medical nurse during the war.

The famous Belenski Bridge is situated between the town and the railway station (near the bridge on the Rousse - Veliko Turnovo route) on the Yantra River - an outstanding monument of Bulgarian architecture, designed and built by Master Kolyu Ficheto in 1865-1867 by the order of Mithad Pasha. It is 276 m long and 9 m wide. Its vault arches are decorated with sculptures of animal heads. A part of the bridge was carried away in a flood and then restored, but in disharmony with the old part. The bridge is closed to vehicles. There is a monument to the Great Master on the left bank in front of the bridge.

The white monument to the three revolutionaries who tried to swim across the river on 25th May 1876 is situated near the bridge on the left bank of the river.

The Clock Tower, built in 1872 by the local craftsmens organisation is located in the centre of the town. Its height is 15.20 m. Other historical sites of interest are Alexander II House-Museum, the monuments to the Russian officers and to Julia Vrevskaya.

Accommodation: The Yantra Hotel.

Tourist information: at the hotel and at Yantra Tourist Association (3, Ekzarh Iosiff Square, tel. 0817 2474).

Transport: Biala has a bus and railway connection with the other parts of the country. There are regular bus lines to Rousse, Veliko Turnovo, Svishtov, Popovo and other smaller villages in the region. The railway station is located at the distance of 5 km from the town (there is a regular bus line with the town) on the main railway line Rousse-Gorna Oryahovitsa-Stara Zagora-Podkova.

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Bulgaria Regions: Ruse