NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ supported ‘Railways and Culture: 19th–21st Centuries’, аn Ongel Publishing House project

In December 2023, following a decision by its Management Council, NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ provided financial assistance to a creative project researching an unexplored domain in our country’s past—the unsuspected links and fruitful interaction between railways and culture in Bulgaria and the rest of Europe.


Bulgaria has been connected to Europe for centuries, not only by rail, but as an integral part of it—those foresighted Bulgarians who worked in a European style and with European panache were indeed numerous.


The Fund’s resources are intended to cover the provision of output data, the costs of research activities, and the systematic process of analysis needed throughout the project’s implementation. Designed by Emil Varbanov, ‘Railways and Culture: 19th–21st Centuries’ offers information on the development of urban culture that prompt reflections on the lengthy process of the Bulgaria’s modernisation and a simultaneous experience of the moments of connectivity of people and culture ‘along the line’.


By a decision of the European Parliament, 2021 was declared the European Year of Rail. That same year marked 175 years since the construction of the first railway connection between Paris and Brussels. With the construction of the first Ruse–Varna railway line (1866), Bulgaria celebrated in 2021 the 155th anniversary of the beginning of railway engineering on Bulgarian lands; 55 years since the establishment in Ruse (1966) of the National Museum of Rail Transport and Communications—the only one of its kind in Bulgaria—and 120 years since the appearance of the first tram in Sofia (1901).


2023 marks 135 years since the founding of the Bulgarian State Railway company and 140 since the first route of the Orient Express (1883), on the Ruse–Varna line, joining the west with the east and setting up on Bulgarian soil a connection between two continents—Europe and Asia .

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