November 26, 2008

Bulgaria's Massive Concrete Transformers Monument
Shumen, Bulgaria

You can see it from a dozen or two kilometers away, towering prominently above the city of Shumen. Outcropping of a military complex? Poorly placed bunker? Creative concrete dumping ground? Whatever it was, I just had to see it up close.

I actually thought the structure was associated with Shumen Fortress, about the only thing in the city that I really wanted to venture out into the cold to check out. Sadly, I was quite mistaken.

The outrageously massive concrete hilltop monument built in 1981 (for the country's 1300th birthday) is one dedicated to '1300 Years of Bulgaria', and regarded as the only monument in the world to depict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day. Even more interesting is that it does this, in part, using wildly giant figures that look like Transformers turned into stone.

Hiking up 1300 meters worth of stairs to the thing allows visitors to sidestep a taxi ride and the entrance fee for the communist-era monument—but doing so feels like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Freezing near-December temperatures were only exacerbated by the sweat created from climbing about a mile's worth of stairs in winter garb. Views of the city (population around 100,000) were most impressive, as was the structure. I walked away thinking it was actually one of the most memorable monuments I've seen out of the thousands passed the world over.

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