Grigoriy Naydenov (1854-1919) is among the historical figures in Vratsa, honoured by making their birthplace part of Sofronii Vrachanski Compound. Naydenov was one of the most generous benefactors not only in the local context, but nationwide as well.
Born into a prominent Vratsa family of merchants, he was a dedicated patriot. Days before the onset of the 1878 Russo-Turkish War, Naydenov crossed the Danube and signed up with the newly-formed Bulgarian Volunteer corps in Ploiesti, Romania, under the personal command of the illustrious General Stoletov. Naydenov funded the purchase of horses for the Bulgarian cavalrymen, thus laying the foundation of the mounted sotnya (hundred) within the Bulgarian Volunteer corps.
Driven by the maxim that "wealth is mortal while virtue is immortal", on January 10, 1919, in "full consciousness and full health", Grigoriy Naydenov bequeathed funds from his multimillion-dollar fortune to the Holy Synod, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Charity Orphanage in Sofia and the Vratsa Orphanage, the Choir Fund at The Alexander Nevski cathedral, the St. Nicholas church, the other three churches in Vratsa and the Cherepish Monastery. The last, ninth clause in Naydenov's testament reads: "All my remaining property I hereby bequeath to my hometown for the cultural and economic prosperity of its population." He also launched a scholarship fund for students.
Probably to commemorate his love for the children of Vratsa, his house was chosen to be the home of a unique museum collection nationwide, named "The World of the Child from Late 19th Century and early 20th Century".
The collection is divided into two parts, with the upper floor being dedicated to the life of the urban child and the lower floor – to the life of the rural child of that era. Clothes, toys and objects from the everyday life of a young child are on display. For a moment, you are transported to the world of children who grew up in those times, and you wish to sit on that old wooden desk and browse through the yellow pages of those first books with drawings, a privilege only for children of wealthy families. You might picture those neatly dressed children running in front of their parents during their Sunday walk. But once you are down at the basement for the other part of the collection, you shudder at the contrast with the life of rural children.
The most fascinating exhibits include an authentic baby perambulator from the early 20th century, a wooden basket, a colourful toy horse, a few rag dolls with gourds, whistles and the games of rural children played with knuckles, cobs and whatever came handy. For the first time you will also see primitive wooden walkers.
The museum collection is certainly not to be missed, especially if you visit Vratsa with children!
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