For more than a 100 years the Sofia National Library has hosted the culturally rich Ottoman archives. In particular, Ottoman experts and scientists have protected the archives that contain more than 1 million documents and at the same time have provided reading rooms for those who wish to access and study the documents.
These documents at one point in history were sold in the streets of Bulgaria are now protected at the St. Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia. The documents that belonged to the Ottoman Empire have been preserved in the Oriental Collections Department of the library that was opened in 1879. Prof. Dr Stoyanka Kenderova, the head of the Oriental Collections Department, said of the archived documents:
“These documents were brought in from various cities of Bulgaria and are now preserved here. However after 1931, many of the documents were very likely purchased from the Treasury. These documents were then sold at an auction”.
With a substantial amount of the documents being lost, many were in fact saved at the last minute froma paper mill at the last minute. Panco Dorev and Vladimir Hintalov had previously worked in the Ottoman archives in Turkey; with the documents containing invaluable information about Bulgarian history, they were then handed over to the Sofia National Library.
The department has divided the archives into 328 separate categories, carrying either the name of a town or a city. Some of the documents are names the Sofia Fund, the Vidin Fund, Sumnu Fund, or Ankara Fund, with the largest one called the Istanbul Fund.
With more than 1 million documents being preserved with the oldest being dated from 1477-1478 which is the decree of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror of Istanbul. These rare documents that shine a beacon to the Ottoman Empire and in particular, the handwritten monograms of the Sultan are particularly remarkable and striking.
The archives books of the province of 16th century Karaman that detail the treasury goods are also being protected in the library. The edict, census, hand written manuscripts, warrants and other important documents of note are also in the Oriental Collection and are now efforts are being made to digitilise the entire collection.
Source: Kuzey News Agency
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