New book aims for debate on vanishing Sofia

A group of young people from Sofia University’s sociology department have produced a book documenting the stories of 11 pre-1944 houses that are crumbling into ruins, a sad decline from the days when the buildings were the homes of some of the Bulgarian capital city’s wealthiest and most influential families.

The book, Portraits of Vanishing Sofia (Портрети на изчезваща София), is intended to provoke discussion about the fate of the buildings, beautiful in their heyday, a glory still apparent in spite of their neglected, peeling facades.

The idea for the book, published by the Iztok –Zapad publishing house, came from photographs published on social network Facebook, which prompted the authors to set about collecting more photographs of buildings in the city dating from between the end of Ottoman rule and the closing stages of World War 2.

A hint of the erstwhile status of the families who lived in the area documented in the book, around Maria Louisa Boulevard and down Kiril i Metodii Street, is that in one house in the latter street, a lion was kept as a pet.

Today, the houses are crumbling, in part because members of the families that own them have been locked in disputes for decades. In spite of legislation requiring the upkeep of buildings, some of the owners lack the money to maintain them.

The authors – Lea Vaisova, Neven Germanova, Milena Goranova, Veronika Dimitrova, Elena Lilova, Tsvetelina Panova, Tsvetelina Slacheva and Hristian Hristov – have no specific proposal to solve the problem, but believe that the plight of the houses should be resolved soon, before it is too late.

The book, in Bulgarian and priced at about 15 leva, is available at major bookshops in Sofia.



The Sofia Globe staff

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