The location of the building is in the town of Bankya, famous for its therapeutic hot water springs. The project started as a vacation, spa and rehabilitation destination for different union members. It was a big complex, with 5 large buildings, lots of additional service buildings and a huge park.
When it was finished, the Party leader Todor Zhivkov liked the place so much, that he claimed it for himself and made it his personal residence. He lived and held audiences there. Even the leader of the USSR Leonid Brezhnev spent time there in 1979 for rehabilitation treatment. After Zhivkov’s daughter Lyudmila Zhivkova died, the Party leader made Bankya Residence his permanent living quarters. He almost never went out. He stayed there until he was driven out in 1989.
After that, the place became the property of the Government Capital national committee that, together with the Masako Ohya Foundation, planned to build and open the first golf club in Bulgaria. They took a lot of money from many nouveau riche people who wanted to buy some private property once the golf club was completed. The golf club was never built, however, because of numerous property claims that were made with respect to parts of the park. But the money disappeared and was never returned. The Residence became a hotel managed by the Masako Ohya Foundation. This continued even when the Foundation was disbanded after the death of its patron in 1999. The former staff of the Foundation turned the Residence into a kind of high-class brothel. News columns reported that the municipality had made several attempts to drive out the former staff, but that they continued to come back.
Finally, in 2009 the place was given to the National Security Agency to serve as a training centre, but they didn’t want to use it because it was too big to maintain.
Since then, the building complex has been in ruins: a reminder of the previous grandeur of socialism, making young people wonder and try to understand it.
Text by Aneliya Ivanova
1977Personal residence of the Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov
1991 Government and Masako Ohya Foundation
1977 New, but started to fall apart immediately
1991 Masako Ohya Foundation
2018 Government Agency “National Security”
Form of government
1977 Totalitarianism under Soviet influence
1991 Parliamentary Democracy
2018 Parliamentary Democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection