Hidden Letters

Poetry, typography and urban gardens?

Follow the new outdoor trail of brightly coloured park benches in the grounds of St. John’s Church set in the foothills of Edinburgh Castle rock, at the west end of the Princes Street Gardens as part of Just Festival – Edinburgh’s festival of social justice and human rights within the framework of Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6-28 August 2021, daily 10:30-17:00.

Marvel at the benches designed in the shape of letters from the Cyrillic alphabet which have no graphic analogue in the Roman or Greek scripts. Turn this quiet urban oasis into a new outdoor space for reading, resting and meeting family and friends.

Discover specially commissioned poems attached to each letter-bench by contemporary Bulgarian writers, presented in their original Cyrillic script and in English translation, including Georgi Gospodinov/Георги Господинов, Tsocho Boyadjiev/Цочо Бояджиев, Mirela Ivanova/Мирела Иванова, Nadezhda Radulova/Надежда Радулова, Silvia Choleva/Силвия Чолева, Galina Nikolova/Галина Николова, Ivan Landzhev/Иван Ланджев, Nikola Petrov/Никола Петров, Marin Bodakov/Марин Бодаков, Anna Lazarova/Анна Лазарова, Stefan Ivanov/Стефан Иванов, Krassimira Dzhisova/Красимира Джисова, Peter Chuhov/Петър Чухов и Maria Kalinova/Мария Калинова.

Fun facts? The Cyrillic alphabet is one of the three official alphabets of the European Union alongside the Roman and Greek scripts. It is used by over 300 million people worldwide in more than 10 countries, including Bulgaria where the alphabet is celebrated at an annual day of culture, language, and education every 24 May at least since 1813.

More fun facts? Unlike the Roman/Latin script, which is usually adapted to different languages by adding supplementary marks such as accents to standard Roman letters, the Cyrillic alphabet was constructed by the creation of entirely new letter shapes. It was commissioned c. 893 by the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I the Great, developed by scholars from the Preslav Literary School and named in honor of the Saint Cyril, one of the two Byzantine brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on.

The siting of Hidden Letters Edinburgh in the grounds of St John’s Church thus resonates with the medieval origins of the Cyrillic script.


Tune into the related online poetry activism events as part of Just Festival reconsidering the role of small cultures in the global village of world literature. Initiate a self-guided tour or request a curatorial tour by contacting us here.

6-28 August 2021 Daily 10:30-17:00 Self-guided tours as part of Just Festival PLAN YOUR VISIT HERE

6 August 2021 11:00-12:00 BST Curatorial guided tour as part of Just Festival Opening Event

14 August 2021 14:00-15:00 BST Provinciality in the Global Village of World Literature? Free online discussion with Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, Stefan Ivanov and Jim Mackintosh – three poets who write in Gaelic, Bulgarian and Scots. Chaired by academic and author Dimitar Kambourov as part of Just Festival REGISTER HERE

18 August 2021 18:30-19:30 BST Poetry, Precarity and Post-Covid Monuments Free online discussion with Bulgarian and Scottish poets, translators and artists Nadezhda Radoulova and Alec Finlay chaired by academic and author Albena Azmanova as part of Just Festival REGISTER HERE

Hidden Letters benches are designed by the Bulgarian artists and architects Cyrill Zlatkov and Ivan Ivanov. The project was initiated by Reading Sofia Foundation and first launched in Sofia in 2018. It has since toured to Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Plovdiv, Munster, Rabat and Brussels.

Edinburgh is the first UK destination for six of the 14 benches-letters from the Bulgarian/Slavic alphabet Б, Д, Ж, З, И, Й, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, ь, Ю, and Я. Fabricated in Edinburgh by Sandy Law and Spas Yanev.

Hidden Letters Edinburgh is an initiative of the Bulgarian Cultural and Educational Centre Scotland, curated by Daniela Dimova-Yaneva, Iliyana Nedkova and Todora Radeva.

Hidden Letters Edinburgh is supported in-kind by Edinburgh’s Just Festival and St. John’s Church with financial support from Creative Scotland Cultural Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund. Further in-kind support from Reading Sofia Foundation.

Hidden Letters in Sofia

Hidden Letters in Paris
Hidden Letters in Sofia

3 thoughts on “Hidden Letters

  1. Hi Iliyana , how is it all going ? Hope you will be able to come to my gallery when it opens on this Monday ? Best Andrew

    Sent from my iPhone



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