The Communist era is a controversial period of the Bulgarian history that defined every aspect of life in our country for almost half a century. And since this is recent history, one can easily find a lot of Communist buildings and monuments in the Bulgarian cities and actually all around the country.
It’s the same in Plovdiv – you can walk around the city and often enough you can notice panel blocks of flats, typical big administrative buildings from the period, Stalinist architecture and also Communist monuments.
We have 5 suggestions if you don’t have enough time to explore everything, but you are still interested in visiting at least some places related to those years. These are probably the most famous Communist buildings and monuments in Plovdiv, but we assure you – popularity doesn’t make them boring.
Plovdiv is famous for its hills and they are the first thing you will notice while traveling towards the city. On one of them stands Alyosha – the Soviet soldier. Built between 1954 and 1957, the monument has an impressive height of 10,5 meters. Since it’s standing on top of the second-highest hill in Plovdiv you can easily spot it from everywhere in the central part of the city.
The prototype of the statue is a Russian soldier Alexei Ivanovich Skurlatov – a veteran from WWII, who visited Plovdiv and the monument in 2007 for the 50-year anniversary of the creation of the statue.
After the end of the Communist era in 1989 many people wanted to remove the Alyosha monument, but with no success – after all the past cannot be changed by the destruction of buildings and monuments. Controversial or not, it’s part of our history and today the monument is also one of the symbols of the city. So, you can still see the soldier today – on top of the Bunardzhik hill, standing tall with his Spagin gun in hand.
Next to the gorgeous Tsar Simeon garden, you will find a square with several impressive communist buildings. So this is actually a 3 in 1 place. Let’s check them chronologically:
Among the most impressive Communist buildings and monuments in Plovdiv is the National Library “Ivan Vazov”. The Library in Plovdiv is the second biggest in Bulgaria. Its existence began in 1879 and was later moved to the current building in 1974. The building is covered with marble, granite and special stone. It’s impressive with its size, many floors and furthermore, with its rich decoration with monumental art outside and inside. Basreliefs on the exterior, amazing polychrome engraving on the walls of the first floor, colorful stained glass and a beautiful mural on the second floor. Those are just several of the mesmerizing treasures in this interesting example from the Communist era.
The Mound of Fraternity Memorial Complex is one of the most impressive Communist monuments in Plovdiv. It was finished in 1974 and is dedicated to the Brotherhood between Bulgaria and Russia. Created in memory of those who lost their lives in war it is also an ossuary.
The monument has a very interesting shape – like a wreath. The idea was to look like the traditional Thracian tombs in Bulgaria. Inside, under all the concrete, you will find a round semi-open hall with many sculptural scenes from our history. Starting with scenes from the Ottoman rule and tracing Bulgarian history to the beginning of the Communist period in our country.
The remains of a total of 126 participants in the Communist movement in Bulgaria during World War II are in the crypt of the Complex – a wall of square bronze urns, each decorated with pentagrams in the four corners. Sadly, since 1990 the Memorial complex is closed and can be seen only from the outside.
In Bulgaria, the last form of Communist architecture style before the regime ended was the so-called Brutalism. In Plovdiv, we have several such examples of public buildings that will definitely impress you with the visible concrete, bricks and fittings. One of them is the Home of Science and Technology building near the Tsar Simeon Garden. A place where young bright minds from different schools were gathered. In such centers in Bulgarian towns, gifted children would extend their knowledge and took part in different international competitions. Do you want to know more about agriculture? Technology? The construction of a car? Rocket science? This was the place.
Created in 1985 this Communist building is one impressive example from the late years of the regime in Bulgaria. Today it hosts the Regional Union of Science and Technology, a cinema, a bar, a cafe.
Of course, if you are interested in this remarkable period of Bulgarian history and have the time to explore and find even more such buildings and monuments, don’t hesitate to ask your guide from the Free Plovdiv Tour for advice. And definitely visit 365 Associations Communist Tour and the Red Flat in Sofia when you visit the capital.
Author: Free Plovdiv Tour Guide – Adelina Kalapchieva