Home » Bulgaria » 100 National Tourist Sites » Home – Monument “Y. Yovkov”

Home – Monument “Y. Yovkov”

100 National Tourist Sites

Yordan Yovkov’s name is invariably associated with the name of Dobrudja, where he lived for only about ten years (1900–1902, 1904–1912, end of 1918 – beginning of 1919), but which became his constant creative inspiration. Widely known is also the statement of the writer: “In all my work, my thought is there (in Dobruja – note m.); there is my landscape, there are my characters – their life, work and fate.

Also, I, with all my memories and with my whole being, belong to Dobruja”. Therefore, it is no coincidence that he is called the Singer of Dobruja. Indeed, for Yovkov, it is the source of his creative fantasies, a fictional Canaan – to this day, ordinary readers and specialists are looking for the place of the Antimov Khan, the prototypes of Albena and Boryana, listening to the voice of the Karalez fountain. Jovkova Dobrudja is a mystical plain, through which roads wind like snakes, golden ripe wheat, speckled with scarlet poppies and blue cornflowers, and lonely elms watch like sentinels over the plain. Here weary travelers find rest in inns, which are not just at a crossroads, but at a place where many roads cross.

There are different memorial places in Dobrudja connected to Yovkov – the village of Chifutkoy (now the village of Yovkovo), the village of Chiflik Musubey (now the village of Dolen Izvor), the village of Sarudzha (now the village of Rositsa), the village of Karaliy (now the village of Krasen), city of Dobrich. In Chifutkoi, Jovkov’s parents bought a homestead at the end of the 19th century and moved to it from Zheravna, and in the other villages the writer taught young people (until the Balkan War – 1912).

Wherever we go in Dobrudja, we will find museum collections, monuments, memorial plaques, memorial signs, murals, etc. in honor of the novelist: both in Dobrich and in General Toshevo, in Krasen, Tervel, Rositsa, Dolen Izvor.

And Dobrich is perhaps the only city in which there are three sculptural figures dedicated to the same person. Two bronze figures of Yordan Yovkov, the work of Lyubomir Dalchev and Yordan Gavrilov, and a marble bust-monument with author Asen Popov. In Dobrich – “in that city, which was in the middle of an endless plain, from which roads came out in all directions, like the rays of a star” (“The Song of the Wheels”), a large museum complex was also created for the writer: a house museum and a memorial home “Yordan Yovkov”. House Museum “Y. Yovkov” was arranged in 1968 in the native home of Yovkov’s wife Despina Koleva. To this day, the museum opens its doors welcomingly to show where the writer got married after the end of the First World War – then still a young reserve officer.

In the so-called “big room” of this home, on December 15, 1918, the promising writer Yordan Yovkov and the Dobrich resident Despina Koleva pledged their allegiance. Their wedding certificate is entered under No. 41 in the “Register of Marriages from 1908 to 1920.” of the church “St. int. Georgi” in Dobrich. In his wife’s native house, the fiction writer began working on his first post-war work – the story “The Reaper”.

From the windows of the “big room” he watched the Varna road with the Bulgarian troops retreating along it and wrote to his former classmate Grigor Vasilev: “I have finally decided in myself that, with great or little success, the vocation from which I do not think I give up, it will be literature” (November 3, 1918).

And indeed, from then on, he devoted himself to literature in a chivalrous manner – he devoted all his energy and time to it, alien to worldly events, political biases, he even gave up the small human joys such as friendly visits and family walks. From this cottage in the spring of 1919 the writer secretly flees across the Romanian-Bulgarian border from Dobrich to Varna, forever parting with his beloved Dobruja, which he will not live to see returned to Bulgaria again (1940).

This is the only home in Dobrich in which the novelist lived, and therefore in 1976 the house museum “Y. Yovkov” was declared a cultural monument of national importance, and just four years later, the spectacular memorial house “Y. Yovkov”. As a culmination of the celebrations on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the writer’s birth on November 28, 1980, a Memorial House in his honor was opened in Dobrich.

In the new museum, a large and extremely rich exposition for the fiction writer has been arranged, in which valuable originals related to his life and creative path are presented. They came to the museum mainly through a large donation – to his daughter Elka Yovkova. She provided her father’s archive to the Dobrich Memorial House to make it available to the museum public. Even today, the Home maintains close contact with the grandson of the writer Boyan Popov – also a donor, loyal friend and like-minded member of the museum specialists. The representative building of the memorial home “Y. Yovkov”, a combination of Bulgarian Renaissance traditions with modern architectural thinking, is a hospitable environment for an adequate presentation of the life and creative work of the writer. The interior of the museum is also modern, the highlight of which is the “Job’s World” panel by the famous Bulgarian artist Stoimen Stoilov, made using the technique of medieval Preslav painted ceramics.

In 1995, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Union of Architects in Bulgaria, the design team of the building (arch. Atanas Stoyanov, arch. Asen Koev, arch. Georgi Mihailov, arch. Plamen Ganchev) was awarded the highest architectural award – architectural Oscar “Arhskar”, awarded so far for the first and only time.

House-monument “Y. Yovkov” is also one of the Hundred National Tourist Sites, annually visited by thousands of organized and unorganized tourists. In its fund are stored about 10,000 movable cultural assets for Jordan Yovkov and even more for Dora Gabe, the dramatic actress Adriana Budevska, for the first ballet master in Bulgaria Anastas Petrov and his brother – the artist Petar Dachev, as well as for some contemporary artists from Dobruja.

The museum team works for its confirmation as a cultural center to develop in various directions: collection and exhibition work, research and publishing activities, work on projects, as well as the implementation of cultural and educational initiatives. Every five years, the memorial house “Y. Yovkov” initiated a scientific conference on the occasion of the corresponding anniversary of the writer’s birth. The museum periodically publishes scientific collections, books and advertising materials. And its central lobby is adapted for cultural events of a different nature: book presentations, concerts, dance and theater performances. It is also a museum space for various temporary exhibitions. Through such appearances, the Memorial House functions fully, meets closely with its audience, exchanges ideas and practices. The museum exhibition offers a journey along the life and creative paths of the novelist. It is known that Yovkov’s life is not stormy and full of adventures.

His contemporaries define him as a conservative and settled person who keeps the family nest and does not like to change his habits. He even prefers to walk the same streets, visit the same cafes, meet a certain circle of people. Therefore, the emphasis is placed mostly on the creative periods of the writer. The exposition is arranged chronologically and separate thematic cores are distinguished in it.

At the beginning, the native Zheravna and Yovkov’s school years are presented. Then the visitor finds himself in pre-war Dobruja from the beginning of the 20th century, where the writer taught for a whole decade. Here the young poet Yovkov coexists with the early novelist Yovkov through his first appearances on the pages of our literary periodical. Next is the theme of wars, illustrated through the writer’s soldier’s chest, archival footage of military campaigns and battles, first publications of his military stories, as well as his first two books as a writer – “Stories. T. 1.” (1917) and “Stories. T. 2.” (1918), for which he was awarded the “Ivan Vazov” literary prize and the prize of the “Progress” fund of the BAS.

It is not by chance that one of the earliest reviewers of Jovkov’s military narratives, Boyan Penev, notes: “Of everything that has been written so far in our literature about the Turkish-Bulgarian war, this is the most valuable in terms of art and psychology.” The post-war years, when Yovkov once again returned to Dobruja, and then settled in Varna for a year and a half, are outlined before the museum audience. Handwritten pages from the story “The Reaper”, valuable editions of the book, correspondence with the editor of “Goldilocks” Vladimir Vassilev mark the efforts of the writer to create his first post-war book.

The exhibition also takes the visitor to the Romanian capital, Bucharest, where the fiction writer met with his family during the period 1920–1927 and worked as a secretary and later as a dragoman (translator) at the Bulgarian Legation. Of particular interest are the “Adler” typewriter, on which Yovkov copied his works cleanly and sent them by post in Sofia – mainly to the “Zlatorog” magazine, as well as diplomatic documents related to his stay in the Romanian capital.

Naturally, the first editions of the fiction writer’s first two collections of non-military stories: “Last Joy” (1926) and “Old Mountain Legends” (1927) are exhibited here, documented with manuscript pages and publications in the literary press.

The last ten years from Yovkov’s life – from 1927 to 1937, when he returned with his family to Bulgaria and lived in Sofia, are introduced through his authentic study. Time really seems to stand still here. In the silence and comfort of this study, the writer works on his new works.

Next to the massive desk is his library with books by Botev, Vazov, Pencho Slaveykov, Yavorov, with the numerous volumes of Collections of People’s Thoughts, Science and Literature. His father, Stefan Yovkov, is watching him from the wall, sitting majestically in front of his house in the village of Chifutkoy, gazing at the expanse of Dobrudja. The emblematic picture was ordered by the writer from a photo and is the work of the famous artist and friend of the novelist Boris Denev. And the clothes and personal belongings exhibited next door show us the intimate side of the man Yovkov.

In his Sofia period, the writer was seen not only as a master of the short story, but also as a playwright and novelist.

Therefore, along with the collections “Evenings at the Antimov Inn” (1928), “A Woman’s Heart” (1935) and “If They Could Talk” (1936), posters, theater programs and invitations, manuscript pages, books are shown and photos from performances from the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the four Jovkov dramas – “Albena”, “Boryana”, “The Millionaire” and “Ordinary Man” were put on the stage of the National Theater by the director Nikolay Masalitinov.

And a series of sketches and handwritten excerpts together with the first publications of parts of the works, as well as their first editions in books, point to the novel attempts of the novelist: “The Homestead on the Border” (1934) and “The Adventures of Gorolomov” (1938 , posthumously).

It turns out that Yovkov is one of the most translated Bulgarian authors abroad. The visitor learns about this fact in the last part of the exhibition. His works have been translated into about 40 languages. Some of these translations can be seen in the museum showcases: in English, Russian, German, French, Romanian, Hungarian, Czech, Korean, Arabic, etc.

The numerous celebrations in honor of the writer during his lifetime have also not been overlooked his wife Despina and his daughter Elka Yovkova are invariably present. The museum visitor learns the names of the winners of the “Yordan Yovkov” literary award, which has been awarded every five years since 1970 to outstanding Bulgarian fiction writers who work in the spirit of the Yovkov tradition.

Its bearers so far are Diko Fuchedjiev, Emilian Stanev, Iliya Volen, Petar Slavinski, Ivaylo Petrov, Nikolay Haitov, Marko Semov and Anton Donchev.

The exhibition ends with a variety of jubilee newspapers, leaflets, postal envelopes and stamps, open postcards, badges and jubilee signs , which mark separate anniversaries of the writer’s birth. However, we remind the museum audience that they will discover the real Yovkov not so much in the chronology of life facts as in his works. Approaching the world of the author requires a penetrating reading of his books. Or as Petar Uvaliev once said – before we become admirers of Yovkov, we must be his readers.

That is why communication with the museum public is a continuous process that is realized in different directions, the most impactful of which is the exhibition. Therefore, the exhibition should not be a cultural product formed once and for all, but a constantly adapting artifact.

The nearest goal of the team of the memorial house “Y. Yovkov” is to renew the permanent exposition of the museum in order to bring it closer to the modern demands of the user: greater attractiveness, use of modern technical means, participation of the museum public in the process of reliving our literary history, presentation of different points of view towards the work of the author, thereby provoking an active interpretation of his texts.

When we unfold the chronicle book of the memorial house “Y. Yovkov”, at the beginning and we will read the excited words of the writer’s daughter Elka Yovkova at the opening of the museum: “Yovkov built the Antimov Khan in our literature and settled it with Dobrudzians, and Dobrudzians built this wonderful home for him, thus expressing their great love and respect for his work and personality.”

These words perhaps most precisely and succinctly summarize the reasons for the people of Dobrudja to build a museum for the writer in the heart of the plain – in the city of Dobrich, thus reaffirming the myth of Yovkov’s primordial connection with Dobrudja – for Yovkova Dobrudzha.

Work time:
winter working hours 1.10-30.04: 8.30-12.30 and 1.30-5.300; days off Saturday and Sunday;
summer working hours 01.05-30.09: 9.00 – 13.00 and 14.00-18.00;

Entrance tickets:
Entrance fee for the site:
adults – BGN 3.00,
children, schoolchildren, students – BGN 1.00,
family ticket – BGN 4.00.

Entrance fee within the tourist route:
adults – BGN 6.00,
children, pupils, students – BGN 2.00,
family ticket – BGN 10.00.

Entrance fee for participation in educational programs – BGN 2.
Lectures: in Bulgarian – 5.00 BGN, in a foreign language – 10.00 BGN.
address: Dobrich, G.Gurko St. No. 4

Phone: 058/ 602 213, 0884311492.

Did we get something wrong? Contact us!