Sofia to use site of Bulgarian former dictator Dimitrov’s mausoleum for underground art gallery

Sofia City Council voted on February 8 to turn the underground spaces at the site where late communist dictator Georgi Dimitrov’s mausoleum used to be into a gallery for contemporary art.

The mausoleum of Dimitrov was built rapidly in 1949 following the dictator’s death. Fifty years later, it was demolished – with difficulty, given the stout construction of the building – by a Bulgarian post-communist government.

The site, on Sofia’s Battenberg Square across the road from the National Art Gallery, has stood largely vacant since then. At one point, some years ago, it was the home of a tent put up by the so-called “alternative synod” that set itself up in opposition to the mainstream Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The contemporary art gallery will operate as a branch of the nearby Sofia City Art Gallery.

There will be fortification of the earthworks, a consequence of the succession of four sets of explosions that were used to destroy the Dimitrov mausoleum in 1999.

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(Photo: Dimitrov’s mausoleum in 1963: Fortrepan AR)