Sofia to Rename, Refashion Soviet Army Monument ParkSociety | May 30, 2011, Monday // 15:02| views
Detail of the Soviet Army Monument in downtown Sofia. Photo by BGNES
The park around the Monument of the Soviet Army in downtown Sofia will be called Knyazheska Gradina (Park of the Knyaz), according to a decision of a municipal committee inf Bulgaria's capital.
The park, located in the vicinity of key places such as the Bulgarian Parliament and Sofia University, is one of the oldest in Sofia.
During 1937-44 it was popularly called Simeonchova Gradina, after the name of Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the heir to the throne of the Bulgarian tsar Boris III.
The Monument of the Soviet Army was erected there in 1953-6 and has since been one of the landmarks of the city.
After the democratic transition in 1989, there has been standing controversy as to the future of the monument and the aptness of its very existence.
Some argue that monuments of the Soviet Army are present throughout Europe to commemorate the selfless sacrifice of Soviet soldiers to rescue the continent from the Nazi threat.
Others see the monument as celebrating an occupatory force that forced communism onto Bulgaria after 1944.
Monday's decision of the Sofia Municipality education committee includes not only a name change of the park, but also previews that the space be refashioned following bidding by top urban planning companies.
The municipal councilors have nevertheless chosen to keep the monument as part of Bulgaria's historic memory.
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