You might have heard that Bulgaria was once a socialist country, and a part of the Cold War Eastern Bloc. Part of the heritage from that period that foreigners seem to find most fascinating are the communist-era monuments. Here, you are in luck, since Bulgaria is one of the few countries where this cultural heritage is still well materialized by many typical artifacts from that period. The monumental architecture of the 1970’s and 1980’s is a result of a massive cultural policy of the state during the socialist period. Typically, monumental art from the last decades of the 20th century resulted in landmarks that illustrate historical events, using specific historical images. So, if you are a fan of brutalist art or are in search of unique Instagram opportunities, here’s a list of Bulgaria’s most legendary and impressive communist monuments: 1. The Memorial Home of the Bulgarian Communist Party (Buzludzha) There is an incredible amount of communist monuments still preserved in Bulgaria. However, this is by far the most famous one. […]
Do you remember the Cold War? Have you read and listened about it? Perhaps you have seen movies focusing on the dramatic stand-off between the two powerhouses of the world at the time – the US and the Soviet Union. You probably know about the arms race, the never ending competition between them, constantly designing more and better weapons and ways to destroy each other. You also likely know about the space race, the start of humankind’s exploration of the so-called final frontier. If you come from the West, you would have been exposed to propaganda about the evil communists whose main objective was to destroy your peaceful and prosperous way of life. If you come from the East, you would have been constantly flooded with propaganda about the evil capitalists, who live and breathe to ruin your attempt at a just and perfect social system. But have you ever wondered how the regular citizen of the “Empire of Evil”, as per Ronald Reagan, actually lived like? If yes, then… The Red […]
Is it a bird? A plane? Is it a UFO? It’s the Buzludzha Monument! Once, a huge symbol of the power and might of the Bulgarian Communist regime, attracting people from both the country and all over the world with its bizarre look, monumental construction and embedded ideology. Nowadays, it is completely abandoned. It has been falling apart ever since the end of the communist regime in 1989. This time we are covering one of the most extraordinary and controversial ideological monuments left from Bulgaria’s communist past. And of course, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about it. You might have seen this outlandish looking building before as it has been included in the list of the 33 most beautiful abandoned places in the world. Its futuristic appearance looks as if taken straight from a science fiction series. This is the main reason for people to call it “the flying saucer”. If you are wondering where the Buzludzha monument is… you will find it in […]
Christmas in Bulgaria during communist times If you have read our 5 Bulgarian Christmas facts and traditions post, you already know how we celebrate Christmas in Bulgaria nowadays. But during the 45 years of Communism in our country (1944 – 1989) things were quite different. The reason: communist countries were officially atheist, so it was seen as completely inappropriate to celebrate religious holidays. Informally, however, most people would still celebrate secretly at home with their families. So, the communist government had to come up with ideas to discourage the people to celebrate Christmas, Easter and other religious holidays. In this blog post we would talk about… Four ways to discourage celebrating Christmas during the Communist period: The power of TV How do you create a situation where people would prefer to stay home on Christmas Eve, rather than go to church? Easy! The Communist party came up with the idea to broadcast movies from Western countries (the USA, the UK, France, Italy etc.) on national television. These were otherwise almost […]
This year the 365 Association, which stands behind the Free Tours of Sofia and Plovdiv, is launching two new and exciting projects: the 365: Communist Tour (link for the tour) and Culture Tour (link for the tour). The idea behind starting a 365: Communist Tour actually arose out of the experience of our guides doing the Free Sofia Tour. On many occasions our guests show a deeper interest in the topic and have asked about what it was like in Bulgaria during that period, wanting to learn more about the story of our side of the Cold War. The 365: Communist Tour – Communism and Europe The Cold War is, of course, something that practically affected the whole world in the previous century. It has been over 25 years since communism officially disappeared in Europe. It is natural that memories are already starting to fade away or get distorted. At the same time, most people still have strong opinions on the topic. If you just talk to a local about it, you […]
Twenty two years after the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, Sofia finally has its own Memento Park. 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. As of April 2019, Sofia also has its first Museum of Everyday Life in Socialist Bulgaria – The Red Flat. I understood why they called it Museum of Socialist Art instead of Museum of Communism. But I have no idea why they used the word “museum” at all. This place is basically a great gallery of socialist art. No surprise that it’s managed by the National Art Gallery. You can see impressive statues and sculptures in the yard as well as […]
End of an era. The Red Star is no longer there. Quite literally. It all happened probably because the soldiers on the Soviet army monument were turned into cartoon characters (The Joker, Wolverine, Santa Claus, Superman, Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Robin, and Wonder Woman, to be precise). This caused such a big debate that the authorities were perhaps afraid that something similar might happen to other Soviet memorabilia just left around in the city. That’s why they decided to move one of the highlights of our tours. What a journey it has been for one of Sofia’s biggest communist symbols. The five-point red star that once used to be on top of the Communist Headquarters. The star that after the fall of the communist regime was abandoned in the yard of the Central Public Bathhouse. Then an essential part of our very own Free Sofia Tour. It was a huge hit during our tours and even made a couple of headlines (for example: The Red Star? by Sofia Echo’s Gabriel Hershman). What a […]
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