Residence of Todor Zhivkov

The Bankya Residence

Location

Bankya, Bulgaria

42.699080, 23.141805

Author

Pavel Nikolov

Architect

Built in

1977

Modified in

1991

This big complex in Bankya was planned as a spa and vacation centre, but the former Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov liked it so much that he decided to make it his personal residence.

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

Function

1977Personal residence of the Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov

1991 Hotel

2018 None

Ownership

1977 Government

1991 Government and Masako Ohya Foundation

2018 Government

Condition

1977 New, but started to fall apart immediately

1991 Decaying

2018 Destroyed

Property Management

1977

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

1977

1991

2018

Type of heritage and protection

1977

1991

2018