Soviet Propaganda Centre, Bulgaria

Author Darmon_Richter - Last updated: 16.01.2013

The Park-Monument of the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship stands on the Bulgarian coastline, looking out across the Black Sea.

It was built here in 1974, to celebrate the power of the Soviet forces; Russia first came to the rescue of Bulgaria back in the mid-nineteenth century, during the Russian-Ottoman war. Then later, following Hitler’s demise, Russia once again offered Bulgaria the hand of friendship – and helped them to found the Bulgarian Communist Party. This colossal monument in one of Bulgaria’s largest cities was built in respect of the ongoing support from Russia, and it was constructed over a period of four years by a team of 27,000 ‘volunteer’ workers.

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The site was built to house a meeting place for the Bulgarian Communist Party, as well as a bookshop, an information point, a Soviet propaganda centre… and a nuclear bunker deep beneath the complex. In its heyday the monolith would have been visible even by ships out in the Black Sea, with 180 floodlights positioned around it in the park. In addition to that, a public address system in the monument played Symphony № 7 by the iconic Russian composer Shostakovich, on constant repeat throughout the night.

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The approach to the monument is up a steep flight of steps, known as the “Staircase of Victors”. At the top the Park-Monument of Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship stands alone on a 400 square metre platform. There used to be a bronze cube here burning with an eternal flame, but that disappeared soon after the fall of communism in 1989.

The monument itself stands 23 metres tall and 48 across, and on its two ‘wings’ are depicted a group of Soviet soldiers coming to the rescue of three Bulgarian women. Every source I had managed to find online told me that the entrance to the monument has been bricked up since 1989, and is impossible to get inside.

Ha.

:cool:

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Luckily I managed to find a hole in the brickwork, just large enough to clamber through.

It’s fairly terrifying inside – pitch black, and with a surprising number of corridors and stairwells. At times I found myself getting lost, with no sense of direction whatsoever. At one point I found a staircase leading up onto the roof of the building, and later another one took me right down into the ground, beneath the monument itself. At this point I decided to call it a day – I hadn’t expected to get in at all, and I was so poorly equipped that I was using my mobile phone for both a torch and a camera!

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Anyway, I came back all kitted out, and headed straight for this lower level. Here I was able to have a good look around the Soviet propaganda centre and bookshop, before discovering a steep staircase heading down to the nuclear bunker.

Sadly, the bunker is pretty well secured these days – the entrance is sealed with sheets of metal welded over iron bars. I found a small service tunnel running underneath the bunker, and decided to give it a go… however, a lot of wriggling later this too ended in a dead-end, and another metal plate welded over the entrance.

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So I went back up the stairs after this, and had a bit more of a wander around the site. Having a torch certainly helped! The last thing I saw was a kind of ‘bedroom’. In one of the upper parts of the monument there was a room stuffed full of bin bags, rotting food leftovers and dirty rags of clothing and blankets. Not only that, but I found a bizarre little altar by the window, where somebody had been playing about with women’s shoes and electronic circuit boards! Whoever lived here, was a strange, strange person – and probably fairly experienced at finding their way around the many winding passages in the dark. Pretty freaky, and so I decided it was time to get the hell out of there…!

If you want to know more about the site, I’ve uploaded a much longer write-up to my blog, here:
http://bohemian-blog.blogspot.com/2012/04/urban-exploration-soviet-propaganda.html… including more in-depth background information, a whole load more photos, and a detailed description of the layout inside the building.

Also – I have since been back to the site, and found another way into the bunker underneath the hill. I’ll post a report on it soon…

Cheers!
DR.

:D

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One of the symbols painted in the stairway down to the bunker. They’re not Cyrillic characters, and I have no idea what they mean…

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The entrance to the nuclear bunker.

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Getting pretty claustrophobic in the tunnels beneath the bunker…

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This is the conference room where the Bulgarian Communist Party used to gather for political meetings.

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This massive star was carved deep into one of the walls.

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Accidental discovery of the tramp’s hideout…

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Women’s shoes, a television remote, and some random circuitry. Weird one.

2 comments

#1Toad Hollow PhotographyJanuary 17, 2013, 7:30 pm

I find myself sitting here in utter silence trying to take in all the meanings and details of this presentation here. Astounding work, I truly admire your courage for finding a way in and going through a fairly comprehensive search for these great details to photograph and share here.

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