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Disclaimer: I'm sorry about the offensive nickname. I swear I didn't make it up. Some of the charm is lost in the translation, but it would all be lost if I were to drop the swearword out.

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There is a monument in the heart of my city - in the huge garden of the National Palace of Culture, booming over historical houses and artery boulevards. It's huge, and it's built for 1300 years of Bulgaria - a fact I only found out a couple of years ago, - and it's probably the ugliest monument I've seen in my life.

Seriously, you cannot imagine how ugly it is.

It's so ugly I don't want to show it to you so you won't judge my city based on it.

On my matriculation English exam, I was asked to write about the weirdest piece of architecture I've seen and I wrote about that monument.

It's black-ish, marble-ish, in what we in the art call "Soz (from socialist)-baroque style"; it has weird statues and random text on the sides - or on the front, or on the back, it's hard to tell which is which. Its general shape is beyond any description other than its nickname: "The Fiveangled Sixdicker." The numbers vary every time you hear someone refer to it.

It's made by the same people who invented another miracle, located in the same garden: a subway leading into a subway leading into a subway. Leading into the underground.

Ever since democracy, almost twenty years ago, the monument has been falling apart. There's a fence around it to protect people from falling stones.

I've never ever met anyone who liked it. Or even found it bearable to look at.

In fact, people hate it so much that the recent article announcing its renovation got some 30 comments of severe criticism. Let me translate some for you:

"Well done, Sofia Municipality, great job, instead of fixing sidewalks, roads, city transportation, gardens, etc., you're giving money for the ugliest thing ever made."

That's a mild one. Try the next:

"If it's whole, it's only good for a climbing wall - that way at least it has a use. It could be turned into climbers' sports center. Otherwise the sevenangled fivedicker should be bought back by its creators."

Or this one:

"If [the creator] likes his ugliness so much, let him build it in his backyard, not where it irritates everyone!"

Even some of my friends, with whom I shared the news, were honestly disgusted by the fact that the threeangled fourdicker would be renovated. As one of them pointed out, "They can't even get the angles right." Then he went on to point out that the archaeologists digging up Sofia in a 100,000 years would destroy the last trees on Earth trying to figure out what its function was, and that the Bulgarian nationalists of that time would consider it a proof that Bulgarians invented time-travel.

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And even so, I think it is beautiful. It's hideous esthetically no matter how you look at it (and trust me, with the fourangled sevendicker there's many points of view), but it's beautiful in the sense that it's a relic from what life used to be and what we shouldn't forget. It's beautiful because it's a city legend - a bit like the Eiffel tower in Paris - and people have made so many jokes and conversation starters out of it. It's a social thing. The fence around it is covered in the most exquisite graffiti and people strolling in the park by that fence share their hate towards the monument on a daily basis.

I do think it's beautiful. I'm very glad they're renovating it.

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  1. Mar 19, 2009

    [ This is from Meghan Rose
    ---DEM ]

    Um . . . Anna . . . Is this where you live?!?!?

  2. Mar 19, 2009

    Anna, I know you didn't want to show us a picture before, but I think we all want to know what the sevenangled fivedicker looks like (smile)