Everybody kept saying how Bulgaria was the only country in Eastern Europe without a museum for these 45 years in its history. Without a Museum of Communism. Even in the National Museum of History there’s a weird emptiness between 1944 and 1989. Well, finally we can see the red star that used to be part of our tour for around 8 months properly displayed next to imposing statues of Lenin and Georgi Dimitrov. You can also learn how regular Bulgarians lived during this rather contreversial period of Bulgarian history.
As of April 2019, Sofia has its first Museum of Everyday Life in Socialist Bulgaria – The Red Flat. Contrary to other museums dedicated to the Cold War, The Red Flat is all about how ordinary Bulgarians experienced this period. The concept is unique as you basically enter the flat of a regular Bulgarian family from the 1980s and a story is narrated through an audio guide. The experience is extremely interractive as you can basically treat the place as your own home – listen to the record player, watch TV, do the dishes, play with the toys in the kids room and so much more. You are able to spend as much time as you want inside. Having an experience as authentic as it gets quickly turned The Red Flat into Sofia’s #1 museum according to TripAdvisor users.
The Red Flat is conveniently located in the very heart of the city. You will find it at Ivan Denkoglou 24 str – right next to Sofia’s main pedestrian street – The Vitosha Boulevard and very close to the Palace of Justice. Look out for Gifted Sofia – it’s where you get your tickets from. The closest metro station is Serdika – it’s where Sofia’s 1st and 2nd metro lines meet.
Every Day: 10:30am – 7:30pm (last admission is 6:00pm)
As part of the National Art Gallery, this is indeed more of a gallery than an actual museum. It can be quite interesting if you go there with the right mindset. We’ve heard of people going there expecting a full blown museum, leaving underwhelmed. However, once you enter you understand why they called it Museum of Socialist Art instead of Museum of Communism. It is basically a great gallery of socialist art. No surprise that it’s managed by the National Art Gallery. Bulgarian art from the socialist era is presented in all shapes and forms. You can see impressive statues and sculptures in the yard as well as beautiful paintings in the exhibition hall. However, you don’t really get to hear to story of those decades.
By far the two most legendary communist items displayed there are the red star that used to be on top of Bulgaria’s Communist Party Headquarters and the Statue of Lenin that was replace by the Statue of Sofia.
Even though The Red Flat and the Museum of Socialist Art do fill in a lot of the gaps it is still debatable weather Sofia can do invest in the creation of something grander – like using the dungeons of Georgi Dimitrov’s Mausoleum – destroyed 20 years ago. Now that would really be something!
There are probably many more interesting memorabilia at the flea market in the city center. As for the “video center”… My living room is more interactive. And at least I have the common sense to put subtitles (at least in English) whenever I have guests from abroad. This is the only place in the museum that has the purpose to convey a direct message by showing for example meetings of the Communist Party. And it feels out of place in this lovely art gallery.
This museum is not located and the city center. Therefore, you will need to use the public transport or take a taxi to get there. If you are staying in the center of Sofia take the first metro line (M1) in the direction of “Mladost” and get off at “G.M. Dimitrov” (funny coincidence but not to be mistaken with the G. Dimitrov, displayed in the Museum). Walk to the Traffic Police building (ask for “KAT”). It’s right in front of it, next to newly-constructed Sopharma Towers.
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:30
6 BGN per adults, 3 BGN per students, free for journalists and art students
P.S: The names and authors of the statues are put in tiny letters on the pedestals of the statues. Funny thing, here in Bulgaria we still have the “don’t walk on the grass” complex. However, I dared to walk to the statues and take a photo so that you could get an idea about the sheer scale of these monuments. No alarms went on. This means they might have realized that the grass is not just for decoration and used grass that could survive the weight of people. Just like they do all over the world.
If you are willing to learn much more about Bulgaria’s communist past, make sure to also join one of our Communist Tours.
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