A piece of visual history - the first photo album of the Bulgarian capital after the Communist takeover in 1944.

Most of the over 100 photographs were taken by Architect Nikolay Popov and Pencho Balkanski, both established internationally in the 1930, with exhibitions in Vienna and Belgrade.

Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959

(more to come)

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

Zhivkov Buzludja 1975 Lo


A piece of visual history – Bulgaria's leader Todor Zhivkov lays a 'time capsule' in the foundations of a Communist monument in the Bulgarian mountains.

From the original booklet for the opening of the Buzludja Memorial Complex, summer of 1981 .

As Communist Bulgaria entered the last decade of the 20th century, it prepared to celebrate the 1300th anniversary of Bulgarian statehood with suitable pomp.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the opening of a giant complex in the mountainous area of Buzludja – it was here that the foundations of Bulgarian socialism had been laid in a humble meeting back in 1891. It was later to be transformed into Lenin's model of Communism.

Buzludja was a feat of mountain engineering. The construction which included soldiers and unpaid workers, even helicopters, lasted 7 years, costing the Bulgarian state a staggering amount of money.

After the collapse of Communism in 1989 the memorial complex was abandoned, and left unmaintained. It's now partly derelict, but is still of huge importance to the successor to the Communist party, which often brings its followers to this isolated corner for morale-boosting gatherings.


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Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

Todor Zhivkov , Bulgaria's Communist leader for 35 years, regularly met writers and artists.

There were very few among them who didn’t feel obliged to attend, or privileged.

Here is one of those gatherings, in Borovets, spring 1966. The newly-elected leader of the Writers’ Union Georgi Djagarov is pledging loyalty to the Communist party. His message is clear: 'Writers are obliged to further embrace the ideas of Communism, reflect its glory and beauty.  We are the bearers of a new spirituality.'  There'll be no Sofia Spring in 1968.


Audio starts at 2'11"


Тодор Живков редовно се срещаше с писатели, художници и артисти, обединени в техните «творчески съюзи» - тук нa среща в Боровец през март 1966 с новоизбрания начело на Комитета по култура и изкуство Павел Матев.

Малцина бяха онези, които не се ласкаеха от тези срещи. Посланието на Георги Джагаров, току-що поел Съюза на писателите, е ясно: 'Писателите са призвани да утвърждават идеите на комунизма, величието и красотата на неговите строители. Ние сме носители на нова душевност.'  През 1968 няма да има 'софийска пролет'.

Published in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian village of Brashlyan has always sat at a crossroads. For nearly fifty years it was a remote outpost on the border with Turkey -- right on the faultline which separated Communism from the rest of the world.

Brashlyan's elderly residents still share stories about the horrific and sometimes surreal efforts to protect Bulgaria's frontier. The derelict relics of that time are still there, but Brashlyan is looking for a new role in life. One of the villagers, Maria Kichukova tells us about its painful past and her big hopes for the future.

Българското село Бръшлян в полите на Странджа е винаги било на кръстопът. Близо 50 години то е изолиран, ”преден пост” на границата с Турция, която тогава дели комунизма от останалия свят.

Възрастните жители на Бръшлян все още разказват за зловещите, а понякога и почти сюрреалистични усилия да се опази българската граница. Овехтялите съоръжения от онова време са все още по местата си, но днес Бръшлян търси нов облик. Една от неговите жители, Мария Кичукова, разказва за болезненото минало и за големите си надежди към бъдещето.

© 2009

Published in Bulgaria