Bulgaria Unveils Monument of Cyrillic (Bulgarian) Alphabet in Mongolia’s Capital Ulan Bator

The Monument of the Cyrillic (Bulgarian) Alphabet unveiled by Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

The Monument of the Cyrillic (Bulgarian) Alphabet unveiled by Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev has inaugurated a Monument of the Bulgarian alphabet – more widely known internationally as the Cyrillic or Slavic script – in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, a non-Slavic country in Central Asia whose citizens write with the Cyrillic alphabet.

The Bulgarian, or Cyrillic, alphabet was developed at the end of the 9th century AD for the Old Bulgarian language, also known today as Church Slavonic, at the Preslav Literary School and the Ohrid Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire by St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski. St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski are two of the five disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Byzantine diplomats and civil servants who invented the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic, in 855 AD.

In 886 AD, The Glagolitic alphabet was brought to the First Bulgarian Empire by their disciples after they were chased away from the Central European kingdom of Great Moravia by the Catholic Germanic clergy. In Bulgaria, the disciples of the great Byzantine scholars, themselves Bulgarians, developed the new Bulgarian alphabet based on the Glagolitic, and allegedly called it Cyrillic in honor of their master, St. Cyril. Later Bulgarian clergymen, scholars, and missionaries spread their alphabet to other Slavic nations such as Russia and Serbia.

The Cyrillic (Bulgarian) alphabet is used today in 12 countries in Eastern Europe and Northern and Central Asia, which are Slavic countries or non-Slavic countries that have been Russian cultural influence, such as Mongolia which adopted the Cyrillic alphabet in the 1940s.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov, together with other Bulgarian and Mongolian officials and Mongolian schoolchildren at the opening of the Monument of Cyrillic Alphabet in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov, together with other Bulgarian and Mongolian officials and Mongolian schoolchildren at the opening of the Monument of Cyrillic Alphabet in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

The unique Monument of the Cyrillic (Bulgarian) alphabet has been unveiled in the yard of 118th school in the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar) by Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev and Mongolian government officials.

“It is here that we comprehend the greatness of the work of the holy equal-to-apostles Cyril and Methodius and their disciples – 11 centuries after its invention, the Cyrillic alphabet is used by over 300 million people from the Far East and Mongolia to the heart of Europe,” the Bulgarian President has stated at the inauguration of the monument, as cited by the press service of the Bulgarian Presidency.

In his speech, he has argued that the Cyrillic alphabet has saved and enriched a lot of languages and cultures around the world.

“Today, our alphabet brings enlightenment and knowledge to more than 50 peoples, including not just the Bulgarians and the Mongolians but also the Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Serbs, and many others. We Bulgarians are proud because we see as our valuable contribution the preservation of the work of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, and the spreading of the Cyrillic script around the world,” Plevneliev has added.

He has also pointed out that regardless of the historical and geographic distances, the work of St. Cyril and St. Methodius has brought distant nations such as the Bulgarians and the Mongolians closer together.

“Our [Cyrillic] alphabet has a future in the world. It stands not only for writing, it is our cultural and spiritual choice. The Cyrillic – this is all of us together, and this monument erected in a schoolyard testifies for that,” the Bulgarian President has concluded.

During his three-day state visit in Mongolia, Plevneliev has had meetings with his Mongolian counterpart and other Mongolian officials as well as with Mongolian graduates of Bulgarian universities.

The erection of the Monument of the Bulgarian (Cyrillic) Alphabet in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator was initiated by an initiative committee chaired by Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov.

“It was in Bulgaria in the 9th century that the translation of the holy books [of Christianity] started, and from there it spread in the entire Slavic world. We are celebrating this great achievement today with the unveiling of the Monument of the Cyrillic Alphabet in a nonSlavic country,” Ovcharov has stated.

He presented the 118th school in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator with an icon of St. Cyril and St. Methodius.

The 5-meter tall Monument of the Cyrillic (Bulgarian) Alphabet in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

The 5-meter tall Monument of the Cyrillic (Bulgarian) Alphabet in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at the opening of the Monument of the Cyrillic Alphabet in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at the opening of the Monument of the Cyrillic Alphabet in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator. Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

Background Infonotes:

The Bulgarian alphabet, or the Cyrillic, as it is more known internationally, was developed at the end of the 9th century AD for the Old Bulgarian language, also known today as Church Slavonic, possibly at the Preslav Literary School and/or the Ohrid Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire by St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski. St. Kliment Ohridski (St. Clement of Ohrid) and St. Naum Preslavski are two of the five major disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Byzantine diplomats and civil servants of Slavic (i.e. Bulgarian) origin who invented the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic, in 855 AD or 862 AD). Among other reasons connected with the foreign policy goals of the Byzantine Empire, St. Cyril and St. Methodius invented the Glagolitic to help convert Slavs all over Eastern Europe to Christianity.

The Glagolitic alphabet was brought to the First Bulgarian Empire by St. Cyril and St. Methodius’s disciples (St. Kliment Orhidski, St. Naum Preslavski, St. Angelarius, St. Gorazd, and St. Sava) in 886 AD, after they were chased away from the Central European kingdom of Great Moravia by the Catholic Germanic clergy. In Bulgaria, the disciples, who were themselves Bulgarians, likely developed the new Bulgarian alphabet based on the Glagolitic script and allegedly called it Cyrillic in honor of their master, St. Cyril. Later Bulgarian clergymen, scholars, and missionaries spread this alphabet to other Slavic nations such as Russia and Serbia.

The Cyrillic (Bulgarian) alphabet is used today by about 300 million people in 12 countries in Eastern Europe and Northern and Central Asia; these are Slavic countries or non-Slavic countries that have been under Russian cultural influence, such as Mongolia which adopted the Cyrillic alphabet in the 1940s. With Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union in 2007, the Bulgarian alphabet (the Cyrillic) became the EU’s third official script, after the Latin and Greek alphabets.

Bulgaria and Bulgarians around the world celebrate the Day of the Bulgarian Alphabet (the Cyrillic) and Bulgarian Culture on May 24, the Day of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, a tradition which started during Bulgaria’s National Revival Period in the 19th century.

The Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet is the writing system used for the Mongolian language in the contemporary state of Mongolia. It is a Cyrillic alphabet equivalent to the Bulgarian and Russian alphabets, but with some additional characters. It was introduced in the 1940s in the Mongolian People’s Republic under influence from the Soviet Union, after a brief period where Latin was used as the official script. Cyrillic has not been adopted as the writing system in the Inner Mongolia region of China, which continues to use the Traditional Mongolian script. After the Mongolian democratic revolution in 1990, the traditional script was briefly considered to replace Cyrillic, but it has not come to fruition. The Mongolian script is a highly unusual vertical script, and cannot easily be adapted for horizontal use, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to Cyrillic for many modern uses. Mongolians continue to the Cyrillic script in everyday life and on the Internet.

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