Monument to Cyrillic Alphabet in Antarctica.

J. B. S. Haldane said that “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose”; further proof, if needed, is provided by Katie Davies at the Calvert Journal:

Bulgarian scientists have erected a new national monument to the Cyrillic alphabet on a remote island in Antarctica.

The joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project on Livingston Island — close to Bulgaria’s Antarctic base — was unveiled to mark Bulgaria’s Independence Day on 3 March.

Standing at 2.5 metres tall, the sculpture comprises four stacked blocks, each side decorated with Cyrillic lettering. Sealed boxes of soil from the Bulgarian cities of Varna, Pliska, Preslav, Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia were also left at the base of the sculpture, which is attached to the ground using two steel bolts.

The monument will stand alongside Antarctica’s first Orthodox church, the St Ivan Rilski chapel, which was erected close to the base in 2001. The outpost also has its own museum of early scientific instruments, and was named an official branch of the National Museum of History in Sofia in October 2012.

More information is available at this Transitions Online post. Thanks, Bathrobe!


  1. J.W. Brewer says

    Does this rival Antarctic research station have its own writing-system monument?

  2. Bulgarians are a bit crazy about Cyrillic. It’s more like if Americans put up the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution in some prominent place regardless of whether it made sense in that place objectively speaking. Installing your country’s flag wherever possible or erecting monuments to some prominent politicians seems to be in the range of normal. What other countries might have done in the same vein? The only thing that springs immediately to mind is Italians foisting a recording of Va pensiero.

  3. In honor of its Founding Documents, US research stations should feature a giant bronze ſ.

  4. @ D.O. Not “a little crazy”, simply proud of their historic role in the literary and religious development of the Cyrillic alphabet as standard format of Old Church Slavonic prior to being adopted by Russian Orthodoxy.

  5. Well, I suppose I’m unlikely to ever visit it. I have, however, been to Armenian Alphabet Monument:

  6. What’s even stranger about the Antarctic monument is that it’s a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project.

    The covering of snow on the Armenian alphabet looks kind of ironic, as though it’s been buried by the ages.

  7. Mongolia appointed an Antarctic researcher, Dr. Dugerjav, to the post of ambassador in Bulgaria. He worked as a researcher on Bulgarian Antarctic station before becoming an ambassador.

    And so joint colonization of the Antarctic became an unlikely focus of Bulgarian-Mongolian relations…

  8. I’ve been to the monument to the Komi letter Ö many times…Памятник_букве_ӧ

  9. David Marjanović says

    See also: the monument to ё.

  10. The monument to Belarussian letter “Ў” in Polotsk

  11. Andrew Dunbar says

    I’ve also been to the Armenian Alphabet Monument and the Georgian Alphabetic Tower:

    (I didn’t go up it though. It was brand new when I was there. I don’t think you could enter it at that time.)

  12. Hristo, I didn’the mean it in a derisive way. Sorry for any offence.

  13. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Do they actually use ё for writing Russian? I had the idea that it was just for books for children and foreigners.

  14. J.W. Brewer says

    I feel like this comment thread is (leaving out the Antarctic stop for now …) generating a proposed itinerary for an extremely-specialized-interest tour of formerly Soviet territories. I’d put it on my bucket list!

  15. Yes. It’s use is optional for most words, but mandatory for words where replacing ё with е can cause confusion – eg, падеж/падёж

  16. I once heard the quip that Russian is the most modest of languages, because it puts я at the end of its alphabet. Does anyone have an idea of where that originates?

  17. This is not what they meant, of course, but monument to letter ё brings up immediately ё-моё (Two dots on the second ё are optional)

  18. Goddammit, what happened to my little Russian joke ?? Is this the “eat my Cyrillic!” I’ve heard about here ?

  19. Must be. (*issues ritual apologies*) Can you present it in Latin transcription? Or e-mail it to me, and I’ll post it for you.

  20. Stu Clayton says (via e-mail):

    yo, bro !

    ё, брё !

  21. @Y: There is a famous poem for children about why я is at the end of the alphabet, written by Boris Zakhoder. According to his Russian Wikipedia page, it was published in 1955 but written a couple of years earlier.

  22. gwenllian says

    In Istria, there’s Glagolitic Alley. It’s not taken care of all that well, which isn’t really all that surprising in Croatia, but it’s a bit disappointing in Istria, where things usually function at least a bit better.

  23. Glagolitic Alley (Croatian: Aleja glagoljaša) is a memorial composed of a string of eleven outdoor monuments dotting the road between the villages Roč and Hum in Croatia.

    Roč and Hum sound like 19th-century Indo-Europeanists.

  24. gwenllian says

    There’s also The Baška Glagolitic Path on Krk. It looks like it’s still in decent shape (but it’s also still new, we’ll see in 30 years or so), and apparently consists of 4 large monuments to the letters by sculptor Ljubo de Karina, and 30 small ones by students from various European academies. Each letter was sponsored by a city or business with a name starting in it, and Zadar got Z, so Zagreb went for A for Agram.

  25. gwenllian says

    I love Istrian place names, in both Croatian and Italian.

  26. George Grady says

    The letter “O”—or at least someone who claims to be that letter of the divine alphabet—is a non-player character in the game Planescape: Torment. He’s kind of stuck up, but I don’t know if that’s typical of letters, or just him.

  27. China has an entire museum devoted to its writing system — the National Museum of Chinese Writing. I’ve been there. It’s almost entirely concerned with the history of Chinese writing, which is not strange considering that it is located in Anyang, the city where the ruins of Yin (of oracle bone fame) were unearthed.

    There is a token section devoted to the scripts of ethnic minorities, with a small case devoted to each script, but make no mistake, this museum is a paean to the glories of Chinese writing.

  28. The impressive Japan Kanji Museum right on Shijo in Gion near Yasaka Shrine opened in June 2016 in what was once an old school building.

  29. The National Hangeul Museum opened in Seoul in 2014, on Hangul Day, 9 October (the museum itself uses the spelling Hangeul according to the official romanization system in South Korea). It has the expected sections on the creation of Hangul and an introduction to the alphabet as well as an interesting collection of manuscripts, but for me its real value lies in its excellent showcase of Hangul typography throughout its exhibits.

  30. I saw the St. Petersburg-based band Otava Yo on their tour of the UK a couple of years ago. They play updated, humorous versions of folk songs. Great fun, even for people like me who don’t know Russian. Their official merch includes shirts with a letter ё on them. I recommend checking out their videos on YouTube.


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