Gagarin in Plovdiv

08.09.2012 § Leave a comment

On May 23, 1961, 41 days after completing his pioneering spaceflight, first man in space Yuri Gagarin visited Plovdiv on his celebratory tour. He had coffee on the terrace of Hotel Trimontium with various dignitaries and he was made an honorary citizen of Plovdiv. This makes Plovdiv one of only 22 cities to do so, which is claim to fame enough.

However, what was known to very few people until days ago was that he had signed the hotel’s guestbook.

Gagarin’s motorcade in Plovdiv

The same guest book had sat in the lobby of Hotel Trimontium until 1998, when it filled up and was put away in the hotel’s archives.  No one had looked through its pages in decades. Then, 15 years after that, hotel manager Vasil Iliev was rifling through old documents when he came across this page:

It reads, in Gagarin’s neat, strong hand:

“I am very grateful to the hotel for the few happy minutes I spent here. I wish you closer ties with tourists from all countries and continents, and, in the future – with tourists from other planets. Gagarin, 23 May 1961.”

This document, one of few left by Gagarin before his tragic death during a test flight in 1968, is of great significance and will no doubt enhance the intergalactic allure of Plovdiv’s foremost hotel.

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