Two fateful dates frame the historical description in Room No. 4: 1396 when the territory of the Mediaeval Bulgarian state was invaded by the Ottoman Turks by means of fire and sword and 1878 when Bulgaria revived again for a new political life with the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty between the Russian and the Ottoman Empires. The nearly five century existence of the Bulgarians under the Ottoman rule is divided in two large periods: the 15th – 17th century, called Late Middle Ages and the 18th – 19th century (1878) –the Bulgarian National Revival Period.
During this period the Christian faith was the unifying factor for the all Orthodox population in the Balkans and the Orthodox Church was the only institution continuing to preserve and develop the Bulgarian traditions. Hundreds monuments of Church art from that time are on show for the first time in the Room. Special attention is paid to the leading art centres of Chiprovtsi and Ohrid which kept the best mediaeval traditions alive and their works testified to the relations with the West – European art.
The Revival Period was marked by the ideas of the church and national independence and was a part of the all – Balkan Revival, influenced by the ideas of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The political thought and culture were developed and the democratic ideas of the nation’s right to freedom and sovereignty were approved. In 1762 Paisiy Hilendarski wrote A Slav – Bulgarian History, in 1870 the Bulgarian Church was declared as an independent one. During the period of 1869 – 1872 the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee and the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski established the Internal Revolutionary Organization. The figures of the Gurghiu Revolutionary Committee took on the armed struggle after the tragic doom of the Apostle on the 19th of February, 1873. The April Uprising broke in 1876 and in 1877 Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The Bulgarian state was restored with the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty on the 3rd of March, 1878.