The formation, evolution and cancellation of every order are parts of the great tale of history. To look into the past and the present day through orders and medals means to touch the ideals and the culture of the Bulgarian people and to make an attempt to empathize with its spirit. Amassing the collection of orders and medals, property of the National Museum of Military History goes for already more than 90 years, mostly replenishing by large donations. It is the richest of that kind of collections in Bulgaria.

In the hall, through a display of 980 decorations, is presented only a part of this collection. Its opulence consists of variety of rare emissions, of possession of the highest grades and their unique orders and experimental samples, in exceptional variety of types.

In the collection are presented with their decorations 35 countries from Europe, 6 - from Asia and 3 - from America. The collection is a full field for investigating and historical comparising Bulgarian and European military history and symbolics for a period of 150 years.

The museum possesses private collections of hundreds of Bulgarian soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, who have bore on their shoulders the burden of five wars throughout 67 years. The private collections of the highest rank generals - Danail Nikolaev, Nikola Ivanov, Racho Petrov, Mihail Savov, Radko Dimitriev, Nikola Genev, Aleksandar Protogerov, Stefan Tochev, Vladimir Stoichev, Petar Panchevski, Ivan Mihailov, etc., are also museum’s property. In decorations’ collection are preserved orders and medals of members of statesmen like Stefan Stambolov, Konstantin Stoilov and others; as well as of the Bulgarian rulers after 1879 – Knyaz (Eng. – prince) Alexander I, Knyaz (since 1908 - Tsar) Ferdinand I and Tsar Boris III.

The National Museum of Military History is the only museum in Bulgaria, which possesses, proved with documents, decorations of Bulgarian heads of state.

The collection of decorations of Prince Alexander I is donated by his wife, The Countess of Hartenau-Battenberg within 1937 and 1938. For this donation the countess is awarded by the “Military Monuments and Museums” fund a golden badge for donators. Until her death she is a honorary president of that fund. The collection includes more than 150 decorations, 50 of which are displayed in the hall.

The decorations, displayed in the collection hall, have emblematic presence in history and nowadays not only for being possessed by heads of state of Bulgaria or Chiefs Commanders of Bulgarian Army. Awarding with such high decorations is taken also as signs of a policy and diplomacy language.

These decorations embody more than one century of history. They are a part of our heritage and the legitimacy of our country. Their presence here together is a part of the dialogue between the generations about our heritage and our memory.

The decorations of Tsar Boris III are given by the Commandant of the Palace under the personal insistence of his wife Tsarina Johana. The royal family is a traditional donator to the National Museum of Military History. Thanks to it today our museum possesses decorations, uniforms and personal belongings of Tsar Ferdinand I, Princess Marie-Luise, Tsarina Eleonor and Princess Clementine. The collection of Tsar Boris III includes 98 decorations, 36 of which are displayed in the hall.

Awarding head of state with order or medal is a part of the great tale of history, with sweet taste of victories, or with bitterness of dreams that never came true. The society empowered us the right to preserve unique richness. It is our duty to share it with the world, believing that culture is a language without frontiers and it aims to make the world a better place to live in.

The collection of decorations of Todor Zhivkov, a Bulgarian head of state, consecutively, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Bulgaria, is given to the museum by his heirs in May 2005 to be displayed temporarily.

It consists of 73 decorations; 57 of them are displayed in the hall. The visitors can see in it as orders of the countries of the socialist camp, as traditionally familiar decorations of European continent countries. The unknown for the Bulgarian visitors orders of Asia, Africa and America countries draw extreme attention of the audience.

The weapons collection of the National Museum of Military History comprises over 44 000 exponents. This is the richest weapons collection in Bulgaria, enriched through the past decades, thanks to the patriotism of the ordinary Bulgarian citizens, and to the foresight and historicity sense of the General Staff and Bulgarian Ministry of Defense.

The collection is material symbol of the Bulgarian military spirit, forever preserved in the museum. There are preserved for generations to come unique samples of cold steel and firearms, masterpieces of the art of gunsmiths of the period since the 15th c. up to 20th c. The ensemble of chronologically displayed exponents presents a section of weapons’ development as part of the cultural heritage of human civilization from the Bulgarian Revival up to the present day.

Firearms, since the invention of gunpowder to the appearing of the “unitary” ammunitions, are presented in the display by unique samples of arms with matchlock and flintlock ignition. There are also presented pin-fire systems “Lefaucheux”, and those from the times of arising and adopting “central fire” ammunitions, used by modern weapons. The most interesting systems and types of firearms could be seen in this collection hall only.

The exhibition gives a unique chance for a visual contact with rare samples of weapons from the private collections of Knyaz Alexander I (Eng. – prince), Knyaz (since 1908 - Tsar) Ferdinand I, Tsar Boris III, Knyaz Simeon of Tarnovo.

The National Museum of Military History is the only one in the country, which presents the evolution of Bulgarian military uniform, accessories and accoutrements. The presence in the collection of all the models of Bulgarian military uniforms, of soldiers’ uniforms, which are rarity now, as well as of some experimental samples, is a merit of the collection that takes start from 1916.

In December 1879, by law are determined 9 different uniforms according to the ranks and service branches in the army of Principality of Bulgaria. They differ in cut, color and symbols. All of them however, show unambiguously its nationality.

Uniforms of Bulgarian rulers, who also are Chief Commanders of the army after 1879 - Knyaz Alexander I Battenberg, Knyaz (since 1908 - Tsar) Ferdinand I and Tsar Boris III, as well as the uniforms of members of the royal families, stirs extreme interest.

In 1884 the military uniform in Principality of Bulgaria is divided into three types: parade, full dress and everyday uniform. Parade uniform is worn on the occasions of prince’s electing, his birthday or name day, in the days of main church holidays, on New Year’s day, in cases of inspections, parades, at promotions, awarding, new appointments, during consecration of the flags and swearing ceremonies. Full dress uniform is worn when visiting the Palace, going for examinations, to church services and parades, balls, official dinners, weddings, christenings, funerals , etc. Everyday uniform is worn at exercises, inspections, presenting to the Commander, etc.

During the first decade of the 20th c. started equalization of the dress and accoutrements of all branches in the army. The simplification of the uniform, dictated by necessity of more functionality and practicality of the uniforms, applies to all the armies in Europe. The protective gray-greenish color, enabling better cover in real battle environment, is a step forward in modernizing army uniform. After 1905 parade uniforms are worn only by patron regiments.

After the reorganization of the Bulgarian Army in 1936 design and color of the military uniform are changed. The Ministry of War divides army uniforms to: parade (only for the Lifeguard of His Majesty cavalry regiment), full dress, service, everyday and battle. All of them are subdivided into summer and winter ones.

The transition from monarchy to people’s republic in 1946 influences also army uniforms. In 1947 is carried out complete change of the symbols, cut, colors and accessories of the uniforms.

In 2001, in order to modernize and unify uniforms, in the Bulgarian Army are adopted the following uniforms: parade - for the professional military men; full dress-representative - for the professional military men without soldiers; and full dress-parade uniforms - for the conscript ones. Also there are adopted everyday uniforms (for winter and summer), special ones and working clothes.

The hall unveils the history and modern days picture of the contemporary Bulgarian military production of „Arsenal“ АD (in Eng. – JSCo or PLC); „Arcus“ Co; „VMZ“ АD; „Dunarit“ Corp.; „Opticoelectron Group“ JSCo; „Optix“ LTD и „Samel-90“ Ltd.


Bulgaria, Sofia 1505
92 Cherkovna Str.
busses: 9, 72, 120, 305, 413
trams: 20, 23
phone: + 359 2/946 1805
fax: + 359 2/946 1806