Planning Capital Cities

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and for the next 30 years, Bulgaria would continuously enlarge itself at the cost
of its neighbours ultimately seeking access to the Aegean Sea. In the aftermath
of the First World War (of which Bulgaria ended a loser) support for a “Great
Bulgaria” diminished, not least since a sizable part of the population embraced
the tenants of Bolshevism, which directly opposed Nationalism. The following
decades revealed that the framework for the Bulgarian national state remained,
which helps explain the continuation of ideas of “Great Bulgaria” even during
the decades of Communism following the Second World War.

National capital city as an experiment

The development of capital cities among the Serbs, Romanians and Bulgarians
was not without problems, which is why it appears justified to compare this
process to a scientific experiment; experiments represent operations in
which the result is not known in advance and in which different solutions are
required to reach a desired goal. Further, it is not predictable whether the
goal is achievable or when it will be reached. Although Belgrade, Sofia and
Bucharest existed as settlements for generations, it was not known during the
introduction of the ideas of national development whether these cities would
themselves become capitals, and further, what role they would play as such
and how they would adapt to such a status if it were prescribed.

In the case of the Serbs, the autonomous Principality of Serbia represented only
a rump territory, as critical parts of ‘Serbia’ were excluded - either those in the
Ottoman Empire (Old Serbia, South Serbia until 1912, Bosnia and Herzegovina
until 1878) or in the Habsburg Monarchy (Southern Hungary, parts of Croatia
and southern Dalmatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina until 1918).^9 In the case of the
Romanians, the situation was similar: When the two principalities of Moldavia
and Valachia joined forming Romania and with them the core of the Romanian
national state they were not united with Romanians either from within the
Habsburg Monarchy (Banat, Transylvania, Bukovina) or Russia (Bessarabia
from 1812).^10 For Bulgaria, the problem in 1878 was that Eastern Rumelia
was not considered from the outset by the Great Powers to be an integral
part of Bulgaria, leading to many, from a Bulgarian point of view, “Bulgarians”
remaining within the Ottoman Empire (these included quite controversially
Slavic Macedonians until 1912).^11 The territorial gains of the three nation states
in several stages increased not only their respective sizes, ‘uniting’ them, but in
all cases occurred at the cost of other nation states (Serbs against Bulgarians,
Bulgarians against Romanians, Romanians against Hungary and Russia).

The second obstacle was the lack of clarity from the outset concerning which
settlements would play host to the capitals. Belgrade as a settlement had
existed since the early Middle Ages, founded by Bulgarians. Thereafter, the
city at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers was Byzantine, Serbian
and Hungarian, before she became an Ottoman fort, interrupted only by three
episodic affiliations with the Habsburg Monarchy (1688–1690, 1718–1739,

Capital city as national vision at the Serbs, Bulgarians and Romanians
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