Sofia city hall announced on August 6 that the monument commemorating 1300 years since the foundation of the Bulgarian state, in the public garden in front of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), by the end of the month.
The monument is one of many built during the communist era as part of the celebrations of 13 centuries of Bulgarian statehood (the celebrations peak was in 1981). Over the past two decades, however, falling concrete slabs have become a health hazard in one of Sofia’s busiest public gardens.
For years, the monument has been surrounded by an enclosure and warnings to passers-by, not enough to deter foolhardy climbers from occasionally scaling the construction – the most recent such instance was by a group of teenagers earlier this summer.
The area has also drawn some of Sofia’s graffiti artists, with multiple layers of artwork and simple scrawls covering the outside of the enclosure.
There has been some opposition to the demolition of the monument over the years, while Sofia city hall has often blamed the lack of funds as the main reason the monument was still standing despite its crumbling state.
Dismantling work will start already this week, Sofia chief architect Petar Dikov told Bulgarian mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa in an interview published on August 6. The city hall has hired a contractor to carry out the work for 70 000 leva; initial estimates put the cost at 90 000 leva.
As part of the dismantling, more than 1000 tons of steel beams, which form the skeleton of the monument, will be turned in as scrap metal, with the proceeds going to the Sofia city budget, Dikov said.
The demolition is part of a larger project to uplift the NDK gardens and repair the adjacent stretch of Vitosha Boulevard, financed by European Union funds, which will cost a combined 5.5 million leva.
The repairs were initially envisioned to be carried out this summer, but have been postponed for spring 2013, and will coincide with construction work on the metro station at NDK, part of the city’s second metro line.
Also by the end of the summer, the city hall will have dismantled the tent-like cover over the underpass in front of Sofia’s central train station. Built in 2003 at a cost of 1.6 million leva, it has often been criticised as ugly and became a public health hazard last winter, when abundant snowfalls caused the tent to rip and led to large amounts of snow falling on passers-by.
(A bird’s eye view of the NDK area; the monument can be seen at the lower edge of the image, in the central part, surrounded by metal safety scaffolding. Photo: valix/flickr.com)