Visit the Museum of Socialist Art – or the Beach!

August 25th, 2011 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Visit the Museum of Socialist Art – or the Beach!

If you’ve been looking high and low for a legitimate reason to visit Sofia, Bulgaria, your prayers have been answered with the opening of the Museum of Socialist Art. The original name was to have been the Museum of Totalitarian Art but some of the old men in the current regime trace their roots back to previous positions when the country was part of the Soviet Union’s Eastern Bloc empire. Seems they took issue with the word “totalitarian.”

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Here’s what Answers.com has to say about totalitarianism:

“Form of government that subordinates all aspects of its citizens’ lives to the authority of the state, with a single charismatic leader as the ultimate authority. The term was coined in the early 1920s by Benito Mussolini, but totalitarianism has existed throughout history throughout the world (e.g., Qin dynasty China). It is distinguished from dictatorship and authoritarianism by its supplanting of all political institutions and all old legal and social traditions with new ones to meet the state’s needs, which are usually highly focused. Large-scale, organized violence may be legitimized. The police operate without the constraint of laws and regulations. Where pursuit of the state’s goal is the only ideological foundation for such a government, achievement of the goal can never be acknowledged.”

Now you see why they wanted to change the name? And in case you need a refresher course in Bulgaria itself – this from the CIA World Factbook.

“The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People’s Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. Today, reforms and democratization keep Bulgaria on a path toward eventual integration into the EU. The country joined NATO in 2004.”

Now that we’ve wandered hither and yon from totalitarianism to the ancient history of the region, let’s get back to why we’re here in the first

place – the new Museum of Socialist Art. What exactly will be on display? Well, kiddies, hold onto your shorts because we can expect a broad array of statues, paintings, and other artwork from the Soviet period. Looking for a statute of Lenin? They’ve got it. Busts of Karl Marx? Check. An authentic Soviet military uniform? It’s there.

More than 100 works of art have been pulled out of basements, cellars, and warehouses across Bulgaria and stand ready for display in a swanky building in a Sofia suburb, all part of the government’s grand new marketing plan to promote the country as a travel and cultural destination. Whether the tactic will romanticize Soviet domination or serve to educate new generations of the horrors remains to be seen.

Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov claims the collection goes beyond mere propaganda and actually has high art value, though the last minute name change has many people looking at the project as an attempted whitewash job by the Bulgarian political elite who have deep roots in the communist past.

And if you’re not up for a day of totalitarian art, there is much more to this picturesque country. Don’t forget that the one border sits on the western edge of the Black Sea and has quite a variety of beach resorts treasured by European vacationers for decades. Despite the color alluded to in its title, the Black Seas boasts clean and warm water, fine golden sand, and first class resorts. Here are a few of your choices.

1. Cacao Beach in Sunny Beach(Slanchev Bryag) Resort
The beach strip of Sunny Beach is more than 8 km long and about 50 meters wide. The sand is fine and at some places natural sand dunes have formed. Clean water and gently sloping sea bottom. Restaurants, bars and many sport facilities are at visitor’s disposal. There are many opportunity for sports including surfing, water skis and parachutes, hang-gliding and banana, sailing, yachts, paddle boats, cutters, scooters, beach volleyball, sports tournaments for amateurs and professionals. Cacao Beach is also famous for the great DJ summer parties, that are hold each summer by the sea.

2. Golden Sands (Zlatni Pyasatci) Beach
Golden Sands Resort is very popular with its long and wide fine-sanded beach stripe. The name of the resort comes from the magnificent golden sand, which covers the beaches, stretching 4 km along the seashore. The beach is only 17 km away from the biggest Black Sea city of Varna and there are regular busses to it. For its pure and tiny sands and the hot mineral springs the resort is known as “The pearl of the Bulgarian Black Seaside”. The beach offers many opportunities for entertainment and is perfect for family vacations with kids.

3. Albena Beach in Albena Resort
Albena is a Blue Flag winning resort, ideal for family holidays. It is located away from the hustle bustle and is calm and green. The beach is up to 500 metres wide and is nice and fine-grained. The sea bottom descends slowly ay a small inclination. It is a nice place for people, who like sunbathing, but try to avoid the heats, as long as air temperature in the summer is around 25°C and there are typical light refreshing winds from the sea. There are many sport entertainments: water skiing, boat-driving banana riding, water skiing, para-sailing, yachting, surfing, jets, underwater fishing, beach volleyball.

4. Dyuni Beach at Dyuni Holiday Village, near Sozopol
Dyuni Holiday Village is located 40 m south of the city of Bourgas and 7 km south of Sozopol. The 4.5 km long and up to 100 m wide beach is covered with fine golden sand and natural sand dunes. The beach is hilly and forested, the sea is safe and calm, with a gradually sloping bottom, enabling even small children to safely splash about in the water. The bay is naturally sheltered against northern winds, making it an ideal place for all kinds of water sports. From early spring till late autumn the air carries the unique fragrance of both sea and forest. Dyuni Vacation Complex offers 7 tennis courts and a couple of swimming pools at guests’ disposal.

5. Primorsko Beach in Primorsko
Primorsko beach strip offers view to more than 80 holiday homes and summer camps. The 10 kilometers-sandy beach is amongst the longest on the Bulgarian Black sea coast. It is known for a place preferred by young Bulgarians who come here and stay in big number of rest homes, hostels, student dorms and campgrounds. The sand is fine and golden and the sea has a sandy bottom, shallow and warm. Tourist attractions are: going on a boat cruise, yacht cruise, underwater fishing.

We can’t help but notice that Primorsko Beach is noted for its UNDERWATER fishing (the preceding beach information was pulled from a Bulgarian tourist propaganda website – our bad)? As opposed to – OVERWATER fishing? But that’s nitpicking. The bottom line is that Bulgaria has a lot going for it as a European cultural destination as well as a beach lover’s paradise. Why not make sure your next ’round the world trip includes a stop off here?

The Jetsetter Show Team

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(Flickr / JurgenBot)

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