Soviet Glass Factory, Bulgaria

Author Darmon_Richter - Last updated: 21.01.2013

This site is located in the Balkan Mountains, just outside a small town in central Bulgaria. This massive glass factory was built in the 1970s by the Soviet Union – at the time it was built, train tracks ran all the way into the warehouses, allowing for fast and efficient shipments of sand from the Black Sea beaches.

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To melt glass into sand you need a constant temperature in excess of 1500 degrees, and so the furnaces at this factory were kept in perpetual use. Staff would work long shifts, overlapping, so that the factory would be in constant production day and night. Four tons of fossil fuel were burnt at the glass factory every day that it was in use.

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Communism came to an end in Bulgaria in 1990, one year before the final collapse of the Soviet Union. As the old regime crumbled, many state-operated services fell into ruin. The railway that fed this factory was one of them. For a while shipments of sand were brought across country by lorry, but this proved to be inefficient and unreliable, and production at this factory soon ground to a halt.

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Nowadays the site is owned by a private company, and one which is rumoured to have close ties with organised crime. It’s heavily guarded by armed security, to keep out looters and other intruders… luckily I have a Bulgarian friend who went to school with a few of the guards, and so he was able to talk his way past them.

Once inside, the site is absolutely massive. It covers roughly the area of an airport, divided into warehouses, cooling stations, offices, canteens and production lines. I even found an old bomb shelter on one side of the complex, reached through a heavy concrete archway set into a grassy bank. Inside there was enough space to house all of the factory’s team of workers, including dormitories, washrooms, a canteen and a lecture hall.

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At the back of the complex was a large reservoir, used for holding the vast quantities of water required for the cooling process. A pathway led out onto a concrete platform in the middle of this artificial lake, featuring a series of rusted cogwork machines for controlling the water level, and offering great views across the water towards the back of the warehouses.

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Heading back into the main site I came across a long conveyor belt, suspended high above the ground on a metal gantry. The lower end entered one of the smaller outlying buildings, which housed a series of furnaces and rusting machines. In the other direction, the conveyor reached a point high up on the wall of the main factory building… I decided to climb it all the way up, from where I was able to squeeze in through a window, onto a ledge high above the floor of the cooling rooms.

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The site was huge, and I spent many hours exploring it… even after that though, there were still countless areas that I hadn’t seen! Definitely one for a return visit, before the new owners begin dismantling the buildings to sell as scrap metal.

I only picked some of my favourite shots for this post… but you can see more interior photos, as well as a full write-up of my visit to the site, on my blog here: http://bohemian-blog.blogspot.com/2012/05/urban-exploration-soviet-glass-factory.html

Cheers!
DR.

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