• A New Future for Buzludzha

    • July 23, 2018 - 2:51 pm
    • Bulgaria
    • Comments Off on A New Future for Buzludzha

    B1 B2 B3

    by Isabel Post

    ARIA Undergraduate Researcher, McGill University

    A crumbling communist monument in eastern Bulgaria faces a new hope of restoration. According to a report by the Calvert Journal, Bulgaria’s “Buzludzha” monument recently opened its doors to a group of reporters for the first time since its abandonment after the fall of the Bulgarian communist regime. This development is a major breakthrough for an ongoing grassroots movement to restore the monument as a museum and tourist attraction.

    Construction on the “House-monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party” began in 1974 and was finished by 1981. Buzludzha mountain was chosen as the site in order to commemorate an 1891 secret convention of Bulgarian socialists that resulted in the formation of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, a forerunner to the Bulgarian Communist Party. The construction of the monument was a massive undertaking, funded primarily by stamps sold to the Bulgarian people. Over 70,000 tons of concrete and 35,000 tons of cobalt glass were used to complete the structure and the mosaics inside, and the total cost of the project was more than 25,000 lev (about 35 million USD today). The investment had a short return-- the monument was open to the public for only eight years before it was abandoned in 1989, when the Bulgarian communist regime fell from power. It has since fallen into serious disrepair as a result of neglect and vandalism.

    Despite being officially closed, the site has maintained limited popularity in recent years as a tourist attraction (for those who dare to find their own way in) and as the backdrop for a few music videos, thanks to its aesthetic and historical appeal. Massive and striking, Buzludzha dominates the mountainous landscape. Inside, the walls are covered with mosaics depicting famous figures in the history of Bulgarian communism.

    For the past few years, a conservation effort known as The Buzludzha Project has appealed to international conservation groups for funding to repair, renovate, and re-open Buzludzha. The long-term goal of the project is not only to preserve the monument, but to transform the monument’s content to fit within a modern cultural context. The content of the monument, which in its present state celebrates Bulgarian communism, will be upgraded with “new museum elements” in order to present a “full and comprehensive account of Bulgarian history.” The end result, according to the project’s website, would be an educational complex that positions Bulgaria’s communist past within the entire framework of the country’s history since antiquity.

    A major breakthrough for the project came in March, when conservation group Europa Nostra named Buzludzha as one of Europe’s seven most endangered cultural heritage sites. Most recently, the monument was opened officially for the first time since its closure, when reporters were allowed inside to photograph the decaying interior. According to the Calvert Journal, this is in anticipation of a visit later this year from European and Bulgarian experts who will assess the structural integrity of the monument, “with the view of opening it officially to tourists.”

    Before the announcement in March of Buzludzha’s classification as an endangered site and the resulting snowball of administrative progress, the future of the site was hardly certain. In November of 2016, Bulgarian lawmakers voted to outlaw the public display of communist symbols. This was a blow for the Buzluzhda Project’s organizers, who feared the law might preclude Buzludzha monument from re-entry into state-sanctioned commemoration. It remains uncertain how this law and the iconography of the site will reconcile. Perhaps the monument will experience the same fate as the Heineken logo in Hungary, where a similar ban on communist iconography threatened display of the logo thanks to its red five-pointed star, but ultimately did not lead to enforced censorship. In any case, while restoration presents significant obstacles-- both physical and bureaucratic-- a reconstructed and repurposed Buzludzha will allow Bulgaria to benefit from a cultural asset almost lost to time.



    Davies, Katie. "Bulgaria's Buzludzha Monument Opens Its Doors for the First Time in 8 Years." The Calvert Journal. May 18, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2018. http://www.calvertjournal.com/news/show/10037/bulgarias-buzludzha-monument-doors-open-tourists-survey.



    Lee, Nathaniel. "Take a Look inside an Abandoned $35M Communist Monument." Business Insider. December 12, 2017. Accessed May 25, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/inside-abandoned-buzludzha-monument-in-bulgaria-2017-12.



    Testado, Justine. "Bulgaria's Buzludzha Monument Opens Its Doors for the First Time in Eight Years, with Restoration Plans Underway." Archinect. May 23, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2018. https://archinect.com/news/article/150065970/bulgaria-s-buzludzha-monument-opens-its-doors-for-the-first-time-in-eight-years-with-restoration-plans-underway.



    The Buzluzhda Monument Project website:







  • Mihov's "Forget Your Past"

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:16 pm
    • Bulgaria
    • Comments Off on Mihov's "Forget Your Past"

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Bulgaria-born photographer Nikola Mihov has taken it upon himself to help preserve the memory of his country’s communist past. Named after graffiti hanging over the doors of the Bulgarian Communist Party Memorial, Mihov’s “Forget Your Past” photo series tells spectators to do just the opposite. Mihov documents key monuments from Bulgaria’s communist period, many of them left in a state of decrepitude.

    While many of these relics were demolished following the end of the communist regime, many have survived. Since 2009, Mihov has been exploring Bulgaria to find them.



    Nikola Mihov. “Forget Your Past.” Accessed September 5, 2014. http://www.nikolamihov.com/forget-your-past.


    Alison Furuto. “Forgotten Monuments From the Communist Era in Bulgaria.” ArchDaily, January 10, 2010. Accessed September 5, 2014. http://www.archdaily.com/101626/forgotten-monuments-from-the-communist-era-in-bulgaria/.


    Nikola Mihov. “Forget Your Past, 2009-2012.” Bulgarian Photography Now. Accessed September 10, 2014. http://www.bulgarianphotographynow.com/en/Portfolio/forget-your-past.


    Harry van Versendaal. “Communist Structures Risk Fate of Ozymandias.” Ekathemerini.com, March 27, 2015. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_27/03/2015_548587.

  • Sofia's Soviet Army Memorial in Ukrainian Colors

    Sofia, Bulgaria's Soviet Army memorial, which is often (and often approvingly) vandalized - the soldiers have, for example, been painted as superheroes and in honor of Pussy Riot - was painted again yesterday in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, with writing at the base saying "Slava Ukraini!" and "Ka-putin." Check this link for a short news story (in Bulgarian) and photos, as well as this link for information in English.

    UK Flag Bulgaria SA 2-22-14


    And an interesting coda from RIA Novosti - - -

    Russia Slams Euronews Over Photo of Vandalized WWII Statue

    The Soviet Army monument in Sofia

    The Soviet Army monument in Sofia


    12:00 25/02/2014

    MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) – Euronews television channel swiftly pulled a picture of a vandalized Soviet-era military memorial from the head of its Facebook page Tuesday in the latest incident to highlight heightened Russian sensitivity over perceived disrespect for World War II monuments.

    The French-based channel, which was set up by the European Broadcasting Union, of which Russia is a member, on Monday posted the Reuters news agency photograph showing a monument of Soviet soldiers in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, that had been illegally daubed in yellow and blue paint.

    The vandalistic act appeared to be a tribute to an anti-government uprising that last week led to the toppling of the Moscow-friendly president in Ukraine, whose national flag is composed of those colors.

    Euronews’ decision to make the photograph of the painted soldier its Facebook cover photo drew swift criticism from Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which had already appealed to Bulgarian authorities to investigate the attack on the statue.

    A Foreign Ministry statement said Euronews had “crossed a line” by using the picture.

    After hastily changing the cover photo, Euronews said in a statement that the image “was in no way an expression of support for one side or another in Ukraine, not to mention an act of vandalism.”

    The photograph simply reflected current events in the world, the channel said.

    Russia has condemned the unrest in Ukraine, describing it as the work of violent extremists intent on seizing power.

    Earlier this month, US news channel CNN was pressured into issuing a formal apology for including a Soviet war memorial in Belarus on an irreverent list of the world’s ugliest monuments.

    © Account Euronews in Facebook

    Russia Slams Euronews Over Photo of Vandalized WWII Statue

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the list had “defiled the memory of those who died in the war against Nazism.”

    The Soviet Union’s role in the Allied victory in World War II is heavily relied on by Russian authorities to instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the population, with ever bigger anniversary parades and ceremonies.

    Last year, parliamentary deputies considered a bill making it illegal to criticize the actions of the Red Army during World War II. Despite the fervor of sentiments aroused by the issue, the legislation was not adopted.

    In 2007, one person was killed and several more injured in riots in the Estonian capital Tallinn over plans to move a statue of a Red Army soldier from the center to a cemetery outside the city.

    The statue’s move, which many interpreted as an intended slight against the Baltic nation’s sizable ethnic Russian minority, soured diplomatic relations between the two nations for several years.