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Bulgaria

Arkutino School for Gifted Children

An unfinished complex built for children from around the world sits abandoned on the Black Sea coastline. 

Hundreds of feet above the picturesque Black Sea coastline, the structural skeletons of an unfinished socialist dream protrude from the greenery.

In the 1970s Lyudmila Todorova Zhivkova, daughter of Bulgaria’s socialist leader, was at the forefront of numerous projects aimed at promoting Bulgarian culture worldwide. The most ambitious of these initiatives was an arts education center in Arkutino, which would house gifted children from countries around the world.

Lyudmila died unexpectedly in 1981. Her father, Prime Minister Todor Zhivkov, set out to honor her wish. He began construction on the massive complex in 1985, which was to contain an auditorium, classrooms, and rehearsal spaces. Summer programs where world class musicians would host workshops would draw the most talented students to the seaside resort.

But in 1989, as the Soviet Bloc was crumbling the project was abruptly halted. Despite various attempts to revive the arts center or repurpose it, the Arkutino school remains unfinished and abandoned to this day. The names of construction workers can still be seen on the unfinished cement walls of the complex, along with the date that project was abandoned. 

The beach at Arkutino remains popular although the abandoned building looms just beyond the shore. The views from the roof of the buildings provide a beautiful panorama of the water below, and a beachside hotel called the Arkutino Family Resort now neighbors the unfinished school.

Know Before You Go

Park at the Arkutino Family Resort and follow the walking path to the left with the beach to your right. Pass a small house on the left and continue walking until you notice an overgrown dirt road on the left. Walk up the road past a small gate house and you will see the large concrete structures of the school.

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