Captain Petko Voyvoda
And the Bulgarian Garibaldians
One of the brightest figures in the Bulgarian history of the national liberation movement - Captain Petko Voyvoda, occupies an important place in the panorama of the revolutionary committees of Europe. On 2 December 2004, on the Gianicolo hill in Rome, was made a bust-monument of the Captain by Professor Valentin Starchev. The occasion is for the 160th anniversary of the Voyvoda's birth.
Born in the Rodopi village of Doganhisar on December 18, 1844 at the age of seventeen he becomes a haidutin and devoted his life for the liberation of Thrace. He is naturally gifted with a great, healthy mind and a strong memory. He travels true Thrace and Macedonia, Greece, Crete, Italy and France, Egypt and Russia, where he enriches his knowledge and worldview.
In the beginning of 1866, Petko Voyvoda visited Italy to meet Giuseppe Garibaldi, who highly appreciated his qualities as a revolutionary, and placed him at the head of 300 Garibaldians. This is how the famous Garibaldian battalion was born, made up of 220 Italians and 67 Bulgarians participating in the Cretan Uprising. Enriched by the experience of the Greek and Italian Revolutionary Movement, Captain Petko voyvoda creates the idea of something bigger for the common struggle to help the enslaved nations in the Turkish Empire.
As a participant in the Greek Liberation Movement, together with their patriots, they make an appeal to Greek and Bulgarian, inviting the enslaved Balkanian countries to rise up to a common fight against Turkish tyranny. He instantly responds to the invitation of the Greek Revolutionary Committee in Athens to fight for the freedom of the Greek people as well. With other Garibaldians he heroically fights for the freedom of the Greek people in the Kritish uprising in 1868. Here, for the first time, he was assigned the title of "Captain".
With 200-300 soldiers, Captain Petko Voyvoda managed to stop the four thousend army of Senchler on the border and to preserve the territory defined by the Treaty of Berlin at a depth of 56 km until the arrival of Russian troops. So the people of Capitan Petko interrupts the attacks of the Turkish soldiers for new expansions.
Captain Petko Voyvoda is undoubtedly an exceptional historical figure whose ideals of freedom, brotherhood and equality are at the heart of his life. He fights for the liberation of his enslaved brothers, fights against the dictatorship of Stefan Stambolov and dies as a martyr.
On the hill of the Garibaldians there is also the memorial site, which is marked with the inscription:"From grateful Italy in memory of the Bulgarian garibaldians who, with self-confidence and heroism, fought for freedom, unification and independence of Italy."