A few outstanding representatives of Bulgarian culture have been born in or resided in Oriahovo, the most famous of whom are the artist Marin Varbanov, the composer Diko Iliev, the actor Andrey Chaprazov, the writer Mihail Kremen. Not so popular with their fellow citizens but also having played an important role in Bulgarian culture are the two architects Dimitar Tsolov and Ivan Vasilyov. They were not teachers, musicians or actors, but can also join the group of enlighteners because their work has contributed a lot to the cultural development of our people.
Dimitar Tsolov and Ivan Vasilyov
Dimitar Tsolov was born on 28 July 1896 in the town of Oriahovo. His father, Tsolo Marinov, who moved to Oriahovo from Sevlievo, was a merchant who dealt in timber. Dimiter Tsolov finished high school in Pleven, after which he graduated from the School for Reserve Officers. After taking part in World War I, he was recruited as a clerk in the People's Bank in Oriahovo, working there from 1918 to 1920. With the money he saved from his work there he went to study at the Higher School of Painting in Viena, specialty Portrait. The same year he married Nadezhda Tomova, daughter of Priest Hristo Tomov from Oriahovo. The young woman joined her husband abroad to study music. The next year Tsolov moved to Munich to study architecture. No matter he got a degree in architecture, he continued painting to the end of his life. In 1925 Tsolov graduated with flying colors. As a result, he was invited to remain at the Higher School in Munich as a lecturer but he refused and returned to Bulgaria. In 1948 Tsolov became a full-time assistant-professor in architecture at the State Polytechnics in Sofia, today's University of Architecture, Building and Geodesy. In 1952 he became a professor in the Department of Residential Buildings at the Faculty of Architecture, remaining at this post until his retirement in 1965. In 1949 he became an assistant at the newly established Institute of Urban Planning and Architecture at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, later becoming a corresponding member of the institute. For his contribution to Bulgarian architecture he was granted the Order of Cyril and Methodius, 1st degree, Cherveno Zname na Truda (Red Labor Flag) Order. and Dimitrov's Award in 1965. He died on 6 March 1970 in Sofia from a serious disease.
Ivan Vasilyov was born in Oriahovo on 28 February 1893. His parents had 6 children altogether. His father was a merchant from Teteven, son of Priest Toma Vasilyov. Since childhood Ivan Vasilyov had been attracted to architecture. He came across pictures of Naum Torbov, then student of architecture, and he started emulating them. Realizing he had a talent, his parents sent him to study at a higher school in Sofia, where his uncle lived. It was there that his art master, the Czech Otto Horeishi, persuaded him his vocation was painting.
It was as a result of that influence that in 1910 Ivan Vasilyov went to study painting in the Arts Academy in Munich. There he made friends with Bulgarian students studying architecture and started helping them with their drawings. After some hesitation he transferred to the Higher Polytechnic School in Karlsruhe, Germany. There one of his teachers was Prof. Friedrich Ostendorf, who tried to establish in his students a style close to the classical one so that their buildings could not be influenced by temporary fads, but could remain models in art. Later Vasilyov abided by this principle in his works. What is especially characteristic of his designs are the columns with complex capitals and the so called cartridge - a decorative shaping of an inscription or an emblem such as a shield, a roll, etc.
Ivan Vasilyov finished architecture with flying colors in 1917 and started work with his professor of interior architecture, Prof. Max Loiger. In 1919 he returned to Bulgaria and started work in Sofia. From 1928 to 1948 he worked together with Dimitar Tsolov. Ivan Vasilyov died on 6 April 1979 in Sofia.
The two architects designed some of the most important public buildings in Sofia. Their first significant project was the building of the “Royal” Theater, today’s Theater of the Army, built in 1927. In 1929 they also designed St. Nedelya’s Church. Theirs are also the designs of the Bulgarian National Bank, St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library, some of the most impressive buildings in Oborishte Street, including Boyan Penev’s house. It is acknowledged that their best creation is the building of the University Library in the yard of “St. Climent Ochridski” Sofia University, finished in 1934. Its interior design, including the furnishing, is accomplished according to Dimitar Tsolov’s design, and the southern facade with the main entrance is the work of Ivan Vasilyov. For their outstanding achievement they were both granted the Order of Cyril and Methodius, first degree. Today the building of the University Library is a symbol of Sofia University.
The two architects contributed to the development of their hometown as well. Theirs is the design of the community Centre in Oriahovo. The campaign for raising funds for the construction of “Nadezhda” Community Centre started as early as 1910. The construction itself was postponed because of the outbreak of the Balkan War in 1912. The Second Balkan War delayed it even further.
The question of the construction was raised again in 1926. The two architects made the architectural design as a donation for their hometown. Building works began in 1930, but financial problems again delayed the undertaking. Then local residents collected about 400 000 levs and the edifice was officially opened on 31 December 1936. Today it is a monument of culture and one of the town’s landmarks.
It should be pointed out that almost all buildings designed by Dimitar Tsolov and Ivan Vasilyov have been pronounced monuments of culture. In front of the entrance to the National Library and under one of the lions of the University library there are memorial plaques of the two architects. In most of the buildings they designed in Sofia embassies of foreign countries are housed.
Apart from those buildings, one of the two architects or both of them are the authors of several Community Centre in the north-west of Bulgaria, including that in Vratsa, as well as of the hospital in Hairedin and the Trade School in Svishtov. This is the reason why we can classify them as enlighteners of great importance not only to Oriahovo but also to Bulgaria.