The team of the only digital guide under the hills leads you on a virtual walk through some of the most iconic buildings of the socialist system


The construction of socialism in Bulgaria began on September 15, 1946, when our country changed its name to the People's Republic of Bulgaria and started a new page in history.

For most of us, this time sounds rather distant, and it's actually been just thirty years since the change and the transition to democracy. At that time, in most of the streets of our cities you would mostly see Ladas, Moskviches, Trabants and the occasional Skoda, and being stuck in traffic was something unheard of. For children, the most wanted place was the Korekom, and the favorite treat – a Kinder chocolate egg. Many of the city's inhabitants were in gray panel apartment buildings that still fill the landscape in most neighborhoods of the city.

An important point in terms of architecture and construction in the cities is 1948 when shortly after the adoption of a new Constitution, the private architectural practice was forbidden, and all architects began to work in artificially created city unions in collectives. Architecture until 1989 went through many periods, and in Plovdiv - as in all the cities - a variety of large buildings emerged. In addition to rather boring residential buildings, some of the public buildings became landmarks for the City under the hills and the people.

Cosmos Cinema

A notable building was the Komsomol cinema, opened in 1964, a project of arch. Lyubomir Shinkov. A significant example of modern architecture after World War II with its clean shapes and volumes, large interior spaces and modest decorative elements. The cinema hall was among the largest for its time with about 1,000 seats. Older people in Plovdiv remember it with premiere screenings of many legendary films, up to the 90s, when they changed its name to Cosmos Cinema.

Later, it began to have other functions, and by 2010 it had already declined to such an extent that there was an idea to be demolished for a parking lot. Civic activity stopped this, after which a team of architects united as Cosmos Cinema Collective tried to restore it as a cultural center. For the time being, however, the building is still deserted and awaiting its future after renovation by the municipality.

House of Science and Technology

The building was erected as the home of the Scientific and Technical Unions during socialism. It was built in the mid '80s and is interesting with its visible concrete columns and beams that carry the wide terraces. The design of the building by arch. Milcho Sapundzhiev is also interested with the decorative accents with bricks in the interior. After the fall of socialism, the building remained part of the Scientific and Technical Alliances Association and continues to host various conferences, forums, and other events in its halls.

In the 1990s there was Lucky Cinemas' home, which later shut down, and a few years ago the building sheltered the only art-cinema of Plovdiv - LUCKY House of Cinema. Next to the building is Club Fargo, which also hosts many cinema events, and on the ground floor is Bee Bop Café, where many quality blues, jazz, and other concerts, as well as various theatrical productions,  happen.

Youth House

Built in the 70s of the last century, the Youth House is one of the most interesting examples of the boldest "brutalism" - the architectural style in which the main accent is visible concrete elements. Very often in these buildings, there are impressive constructive solutions - so at the Youth House above the main entrance, there is a huge concrete volume that seems unrealistically hanging in the air. The building was built on the project of arch. Veselin Rakshiev and 10 years ago became the home of the Plovdiv Municipal Council.

The building of the Administrative Court - Plovdiv / the Russian Consulate

The former Russian Consulate in Plovdiv on Ivan Vazov Street is among the more delicate buildings of socialism, which doesn’t shock with large size. The building was built in the 1970s by architects Dimka Taneva and Milcho Sapundzhiev. In 1998 the diplomatic mission of Russia in Plovdiv was closed, and the building remained empty until around 2010. The same two architects then redesigned the building into the Administrative Court, a function it still performs today.

Party House

The party house is one of the most visible buildings in Plovdiv, which is accepted with mixed feelings from the locals. The tall building dominates the landscape in the central city area, where most of the neighboring buildings are lower. It also hides the view from the Main Pedestrian Street to the Rhodope Mountains.

However, the building built in the early '70s has its architectural merits. In its high body are housed many administrative premises, and in the low - Concert Hall, which until recently was the home of the Plovdiv Opera.

The building is also one of the examples of the rather popular idea through socialism of "synthesis of the arts" - that is, works of other arts to be integrated in the building. So there is a large fresco in the lobby of the Party House, and outside - to the Central Square - a mosaic panel by the great Plovdiv painter Yoan Leviev. Similar large frescoes or other works of art have been exhibited in other buildings of the period - such as the Central Post Office with a mosaic by Georgi the Elephant Bozhilov or the frescoed People's Library, also by the Elephant.