FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The hillock of fraternity

Posted in Bulgaria, Plovdiv by folkestonejack on September 25, 2017

The hillock of fraternity is probably not on the itinerary of most visitors to Plovdiv, but I have always found the sculptural legacy of the communist era strangely fascinating. This one is certainly unusual.

On an aerial image of the site it looks just as though someone has embedded a fan into the landscape. You might think that it would have more visual impact when approached from the long ceremonial avenue, given the usual desire to make a big statement, but here the monument barely breaks the surface. It’s as if a small eruption has broken through the concrete pavement and been left un-repaired.

The Bratska Mogila is most commonly translated as ‘Brotherly Mound’ or ‘Hillock of Fraternity’

The architects of the monument were Lubomir Shinkov and Vladimir Rangelov who were commissioned by the City People’s Council in 1968 after a series of failed architectural competitions. Work started in 1971 and the site was ready for opening on 9th September 1974, the thirtieth anniversary of the Socialist Revolution in Bulgaria.

The monument is supposed to echo the Thracian burial mounds of ancient history, hence it’s low profile. Inside the pantheon the remains of 126 partisans from the Second World War are buried. Looking through the locked gates you can see the poor state of the 19 sculptural compositions by Lyubomir Dalchev. Five years after the memorial opened the sculptor emigrated to the US and the name plate marking his work was removed from the site.

The eternal flame at its heart of the monument has long been extinguished, the bronze elements of the site have been plundered and the exterior is covered in graffiti.

Practicalities

If I’m honest it isn’t the most rewarding walk you can take from the city centre, which for me involved skirting round the Bunardzik Hill and following the pathway through the park that runs alongside bul. Svoboda. The walk is bordered by high rise apartment blocks but seemed safe enough when I visited. The site itself was fairly quiet, bar for a few local youths with their skateboards.

The gates are usually locked so it’s unlikely that you will get a chance to take a close look. However, the memorial is in such poor condition that it’s just nice to see it all – given that some memorials in Bulgaria have already fallen victim to the ravages of time!

It’s worth seeing in the mid-morning sun when the sun is high enough to illuminate the interior. I made my visit later in the day which was fine, but probably not the best light to have picked!

Gallery

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