Mother Bulgaria Pantheon - Atlas Obscura

Mother Bulgaria Pantheon

Gurgulyat, Bulgaria

While it would not look out of place among Serbian spomeniks, this massive Bulgarian monument commemorates one of their defeats. 

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War between Serbia and Bulgaria broke out in 1885 over a territorial dispute. Though the Bulgarian army was vastly outnumbered, they managed to hold off the invading army headed for their capital. After being defeated in battle, the Serbian army retreated.

The site of a key battle was a hill in the small village of Gurgulyat, less than 40 kilometers from today’s border. This source of national pride was commemorated in 1935 with the construction of a church on the hill. But after World War II, the church was abandoned and eventually demolished.

Under communist rule (1946-1989), the state began to build many monuments, backed up by a strong military building force and a seemingly inexhaustible source of concrete. The Mother Bulgaria Pantheon was built in 1985. 

The memorial is massive in size but minimalistic in design. It was built out of four sections of rose-colored concrete in the shape of an open pyramid overlooking the village. The inner tomb is empty, save for a statue of a young woman symbolizing the sorrow of the Bulgarian mother having lost her sons at war. The openings in the structure are narrow and long, like the slits in military fortifications.

Despite being solidly built, the monument is slowly crumbling today from lack of maintenance.

Know Before You Go

The village of Gurgulyat is 10 kilometers away from the town of Slivnitsa, with no public transport between the two, so it is best accessed by car. Parking, recreational space, and a restroom are available right in front of the monument.

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