Walks, balloons, dogs, kids, skaters, bikers, parkour, freerunning, hip-hop and K-pop dancing? You guessed it – we’re in Sofia’s favorite and most colorful square space – The National Palace of Culture Park. The space around the National Palace of Culture was designed by arch. Atanas Agura in collaboration with landscape architect Valentina Atanasova. The park was conceived as a venue for mass outdoor cultural activities – concerts, exhibitions and other celebrations. That is why underground parking for more than 1500 cars is provided for the visitors. The visional concept of arch. Agura said that the approach to Vitosha Mountain should start exactly from the National Palace of Culture Park, and go through today’s “Lovers’ Bridge” and the two parts of the South Park.
„Мостът на влюбените“ не разполага с официално име, но е наречен така от местните хора вероятно заради множеството двойки, които се разхождат по него. Той представлява пешеходен мост, свързващ територията на Двореца с част II на Южен парк. The “Lovers’ Bridge” does not have an official name, but it is called so by the locals probably because of the many couples who walk on it. It is a walking bridge connecting the Palace grounds with Part II of South Park. These are the green hills and meadows south of the Blvd. “Bulgaria”, better known among the citizens of Sofia as “the dog park”. The bridge also acts as an overpass, as it is designed so that cars can pass through if necessary. The stairs connecting the bridge with the old McDonalds, which came there as one of the first symbols of capitalism, were designed by arch. Stanislav Konstantinov, who also designed the pylons of the National Palace of Culture.
At the end of 1979, the Committee for Culture announced an internal competition for the construction of a monument commemorating the occasion of the 1300th anniversary of Bulgaria replacing the monument for the dead of the I and VI Infantry Regiments. Of course, the theme was set by Lyudmila Zhivkova, who dwelt on “Past, Present and Future”. The jury of the competition awarded the first prize to the conceptual project of prof. Valentin Starchev. Arch. Alexander Barov, arch. Atanas Agura and Eng. Milcho Brynov. The monument was inaugurated personally by Todor Zhivkov on 20 October 1981. Then, in the program for the celebration of the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian state, the jubilee “Day of the Bulgarian State” was held. When the monument was unveiled, it had not yet been completed in its final form and began to crumble, and after the end of communism it ceased to be maintained, although it became part of various itineraries that examined the totalitarian legacy. In 2017, the monument was removed despite contradictory attitudes in society.
Everyone, however, unanimously loves the fountains in front of the National Palace of Culture – one of the favorite meeting places of Sofia residents. They can throw streams from 1 to 25 meters high, bubbling and geyser-spring effects, water mist, overflows and waterfalls. For even more effect, they also feature underwater projectors with four main colors.
The life around the National Palace of Culture continues underground. The main underpass of the Palace serves as a pedestrian passage between the Palace, the park spaces and the public transport stops. There are numerous restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. In the central part of the underpass, just in front of the main entrance of the National Palace of Culture, is another large, remarkable fountain with several metal globes in different sizes that imitate a miniature universe with celestial bodies. That is why the beautiful fountain-composition is called “Cosmos” meaning “Space”, although today it is better known as “The Balls”, and urban mythology remembers it as “The Brains”, because of the joke with its round smooth shapes.
On the vertical northern wall just behind “The Balls” is a decorative sculptural mosaic by Ivan Radev, again composed of spheres. Arch. Atanas Agura says that the fountain repeats the geometric shape of the National Palace of Culture itself on a smaller scale.
The articles for the project “NDK is #soSofia” were developed by Viktor Topalov, author at “Bohemian Sofia” in collaboration with the #soSofia team.
The project uses visual archives from the National Film Centre, the State Agency “Archives”, the Bulgarian Visual Archive and information from the following sources:
Miloshev, Yordan, NDK – memories of builders | Sp. 1 – 1982, 6 – 1984, 3-4 – 1986 | Mircheva, Simona, Palace in the Life of the City | Tromkov, Ilia. National Palace of Culture “Lyudmila Zhivkova” | Milev, Ivo. “The Life and Death of Lyudmila Zhivkova | BNT. Aleksandrova, Albena. Kovachev, Oleg. Study of beauty from within | omda.bg. Interview – Gyurov, Vasil. Gyurov, Konstantin. Places of everyday life. Cravaai. | Langova, Sonya. Shofelinov, Ivan. Cohen, Emil. Film – We from Kravay. | Trifonova, Teodora. BTV News. 18.07.2017 Ready project for the soldiers’ memorial has been there for years. | Veselinov, Veselin. Liternet. Memorial to the fallen of the 1st and 6th infantry regiments. | NDK Press Center | ndk.bg | newtheatre.bg | Thank you for talking to the NDK teams. | All Day NDK. | DJ GIORGIO. | Sofia Graffiti Tour.
The NDK is #soSofia project is realized with the support of the Cultural Heritage Entrepreneurship Programme of the National Culture Fund and the help of our loyal friends from Storytel, Fashion Days, Beefeater and DEVIN.