Cover picture credits: ©Kennethving
Cover picture credits: ©Kennethving

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Socialist architectural masterpieces in Bulgaria: Buzludzha monument

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Socialist realism, by definition refers to a style of an "idealised realistic art" that was developed in the Soviet Union. Officially, it lasted from 1932 to 1988. Many other socialist countries adopted this style after World War II.

Elements often used in social realism are the sunlight, the body, the youth, the flight, the industry, and the new technology. Probably the last mentioned element is the reason why the architectural objects from this era look so sci-fi, and at the same time manage to get the attention of the public. The other poetic images were used to show the Utopian communism. The art of this era doesn’t believe in pure aesthetic. "If it is just beautiful, but without function- then it's not good". The ideals of the social realism appreciated the work and community, above everything else. Now, we can all agree that the most functioning art is architecture, which is artistically practical. To prove all of this, I will quote Georgi Plekhanov, a Marxist theoretician:

There can be no doubt that art acquired a social significance only in so far as it depicts, evokes, or conveys actions, emotions and events that are of significance to society.

Exciting socialist architecture...but where can you discover it? The answer would be on the territory of every country that was part of SSSR, part of Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. You can recognise it by getting this irresistible urge to take a picture or to record a video while there. These objects are unfortunately often not renovated, so the photos and videos can end up being creepy! At the same time, these objects just get your attention.

The monument of Buzludja (official name: Memorial building of the Bulgarian Communist Party) is the popular name of the largest ideological monument of the communist regime in Bulgaria. It is built in 1981, on the Buzuludzha peak. The architectural project is the work of a team led by the architect Georgi Stoilov. The monument reminds of the Montreal Olympic Stadium and also a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Greek Orthodox Church in Wisconsin.

Photo credit: ©Mark Ahsmann
Photo credit: ©Mark Ahsmann

The building is composed of one circle shaped plate and a 70m high vertical axis, and it dominates the natural mountainous environment. The interior of the building is especially magnificent due to its decoration with mosaics, covering  a total area of ​​550 m². The mosaic is presenting the struggles of the Bulgarian Communist party. I guess the pure aesthetic of a 550 m2 mosaic is allowed only if it’s spreading a communist ideology.

The interior today. Photo credits:  ©Stanislav Traykov
The interior today. Photo credits: ©Stanislav Traykov

This object is a masterpiece worth visiting, even though it is abandoned and forgotten. Its impressive and peculiar architecture will satisfy the most adventurous spirits.

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The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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