Abandoned Bulgaria: Chemical Factory


In this area on the outskirts of Sofia, it can be difficult to know whether a building is abandoned or just highly dilapidated. This large chemical factory is a prime example. Parts of the complex are still in use as a ceramics factory, which looked incredibly haphazard, a shanty factory. However, a large part of it was abandoned, we just needed to get in.

It was the middle of the day and the sun was beaming down on us, as lorries kicked up dust in this industrial not-quite wasteland. There was a steady toing and froing of workers- we were warned they would not be pleased if they spotted us.

We waited for a gap in the bustle before hurriedly shuffling through the shadows and into the large abandoned building. We entered straight into a cavernous room, which had been stripped of whatever machinery had once whirred and spluttered to produce chemicals in the now apocalyptic space. Pipes protruded from walls, clinging on where all else around them had fallen. The floor was littered with debris and crumbling plasterwork. Concrete slabs that once supported the heavy machinery stood out like islands in the tangle of clutter.

We made our way upstairs and found a cluster of offices and a control room overlooking the factory floor from above. This room was filled with maps, plans, old displays and monitors. Nothing looked like it had been used for many years.

The next room was filled with bottles and veils of chemicals, test tubes and beakers. Amazingly some of the amber-glassed chemical containers were dated 2009- the factory looked as though it had been abandoned long before then. Like the surrounding factories, it was probably in operation whilst falling apart and poorly maintained even whilst still producing chemicals.

During the communist era, which came about in 1944, there was significant investment in industry in the country. Industry was nationalised and was managed as part of a centralised and planned economy. Bulgaria’s scientific and technical sectors became an important factor in the country’s planned development and progression. In 1979 Bulgaria became the sixth country to send a man to space, which demonstrates their relative technological advancement.

In 1989 the communist regime was overthrown. Though propped up during communism, Bulgarian industry struggled to compete in the global market. Manufacturing process lagged behind Western requirements and standards, and previous communist mismanagement came to light. This led to a decline in industry and production across the country, leaving plenty of factories like this to fall out of use and into decay.

Last Updated on 18 May 2023 by Michael


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