In 2013, photographer Rebecca Litchfield was commissioned by Carpet Bombing Culture to photograph the abandoned buildings and areas of the former Soviet Union and its satellite states. Litchfield’s journey took her through ten countries in Eastern Europe to capture what was left from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The result was Soviet Ghosts, a fascinating 192-page hardcover photo book with essays and articles sprinkled throughout. In an extensive blog post, Litchfield recalls:
Perched on top of Mount Buzludzha, this monument to Communism is the largest in Bulgaria. It is located on the site where the Bulgarian Socialists first began their clandestine meetings in 1891 later, this mountain pass witnessed perhaps the bloodiest battle yet fought in the ongoing war against the Turks. It’s no surprise then, that this location bears a great symbolic importance. Designed by Georgi Stoilov, the monument was funded by voluntary donations from the citizens of Bulgaria, and featured expensive materials such as marble and glass. At its heart stands a huge amphitheatre, where a mural adorning the walls celebrates themes from Bulgarian and Soviet history. The 70m tower meanwhile, once bore a huge star formed from red glass. It was made in the Soviet Union, although in a display of local one-upmanship, the architects had it constructed to be three times the size of the star adorning the tower of Moscow’s Kremlin. The monument was abandoned in 1989 and gifted to the state in 1991; since when it has been heavily looted for metal and other valuable materials. The copper that once covered the roof has been stripped away, so that the monument is now open to the elements. Once an opulent symbol of Communist rule, the Buzludzha monument today stands in a state of slow decay on top of the mountain; its thick glass windows smashed, while Bulgaria’s harsh winters bury the structure each year beneath a layer of ice and snow.