Monday, April 3, 2017

236. Monument to a Past Friendship


Feeling energetic this morning I took a short bus ride from the city centre to view The Monument of the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship ( or more simply referred to as “The Russian Monument” ). Constructed in the late 1970s in honor of the Soviet Army, as a symbol of friendship between the two peoples. Like many of the communist-era structures, the friendship monument is glorious but kind of over-whelming at the same time.


The monument was originally envisaged in 1958, to celebrate Russia’s defence of Bulgaria during the Russian-Ottoman War of 1828–1829. In 1946 Russia once again offered the country a supporting hand, following Bulgaria’s persecution by Hitler’s forces; a chain of events which eventually saw the rise of the Bulgarian Communist Party.


A 15-metre wide “Staircase of Victors” includes a total of 305 steps up to the monument itself, and in the surrounding park more than 20,000 decorative trees were planted to represent fallen Soviet soldiers.


A total of 180 floodlights were originally positioned to illuminate the monument at night, so that it would be visible even by ships far out in the Black Sea. And a public address system set up in the park played Symphony № 7 by the iconic Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, on constant repeat - great for the poor souls living nearby ... !!! ...

 ... nearly there ...

 ... ooops spoke too soon - well, almost there ...

The complex is deceptively large – inside and beneath the monument itself there are conference facilities, an information point, a Soviet propaganda centre and bookshop, and, deep beneath the hill it stands on, an abandoned nuclear bunker. All structure beneath the monument is now sealed off ...


The monument was built on the very spot where the Russian forces were stationed while fighting the Ottomans… which later became a mass grave for all those who fell in the fierce battle.



The Park-Monument of the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship was conceived by the local sculptors Evgeni Bar«émov and Alyosha Kafedzhiyski, in collaboration with the architect Kamen Goranov; it depicts a troop of Russian soldiers coming to the defence of forlorn Bulgarian maidens, with the four figures on either ‘wing’ reaching a height of 11 metres.

 An inscription in the centre once read
 “Friendship for centuries throughout centuries”.




Construction of the Russian Monument commenced in late 1974, and 27,000 volunteer workers toiled for four years to create both the imposing structure and the 400 square-metre platform on which it stands.



More than 10,000 tonnes of concrete, and 1000 tonnes of armature iron were used to create the monument, which measures 23 metres tall and 48 wide. A great bronze cube was constructed in front of the monument, burning with an eternal flame until the fall of communism in 1989.



It was functional and cared for until 1989, and just like so many others of its ilk, it has fallen into disrepair, stripped of its bronze, flame out, music now quiet, and it's function now is just to attract tourists and a few health fanatics who run up and down the stairs on their daily workouts.
 
 ... the view of the city from the top ...

... and the view looking East out to the Black Sea ...

Now it’s back down all those stairs and find a cafe for lunch …