High on the hills of nighttime Varna, the 7th symphony of Shostakovich plays as 180 spotlights dance across the stoic, concrete faces of the monument of friendship between two often war-torn regimes.
The spotlights illuminated the massive 11,000 monument so that its majesty could be visible from the sea. In the typical bombastic style of communist-era Bulgaria. The Monument of the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship, or more simply referred to as “The Russian Monument” was constructed in honor of the Soviet Army, as a symbol of friendship between the two peoples. The monument was built on Turna hill, a place that had seen its share of bloodshed as a battlefield where many men had died fighting capitalism and fascism.
Like many of the communist-era structures, the friendship monument is glorious and sharply terrifying all at once. 305 stairs that stretch 49 ft. across make up the “Staircase of Victors” that leads to the platform where 4 36-ft. tall concrete soldiers with empty eyes stand at attention, and a cracked bronze cube once held a now extinguished eternal flame. Bronze lettering along the walls of the monument tell the history of the Bulgarian and Russian people, and how their connections have developed over centuries.
It took 7 months to construct the token of good will, and over 27,000 volunteers. 10,000 tons of concrete and 1,000 tons of armature iron were carted up the hillside, which was gifted 20,000 newly planted trees to accent the tribute. It was functional and cared for until 1989, and just like so many others of its ilk, it has fallen into disrepair, stripped of its bronze, flame out, music now quiet.