Sofia: Art Hostel Garden


Raina Moneva:

"We are here in a typical backyard of Sofia, in the old part of Sofia and many houses have this kind of backyard gardens. This place belongs to the art hostel, the exact namen is "Art Hostel -usually we spend our time in the garden". So we are here very often. Four years ago we had the idea to open a hostel because at that time there was no hostel in Sofia. But that was not only a business idea because we had also in mind to create a meeting point for our friends, and to have a place for events sınce we are also members of the "Destination Bulgaria Foundation", which has an emphasis on contemporary art. So here we can create contact to an alternative audience, which are the young travellers and these have an opportunity to meet young Bulgarian artists. So we do a lot of exhibitions and performances in this garden.

What I like about this place is that it represents on the one hand a typical Sofia courtyard but on the other hand it is completely different, because it has been transformed by the presence and activities of all sorts of people. So for me this is a unique experiment: to make people meet who would usually never meet.

Sofia is a very spatious and green city with a lot of open spaces, it is maybe on of the greenest cities on the Balkans I would suppose, however a lot of transformation is going on and spaces get lost more and more. People in Sofia are used to spend their time in open spaces because meeting people and communication is very important for us..some like to meet at the lilies' lake in the park in summer.

There have been changes in the last 15 years: green spaces within the community boundary of Sofia have apparently declined from 20 000 hectares to 10 000 hectare due to increased building activity on private basis. Another change is probably the way of use: there are for example much more cafés than some years ago and they are always full, so people have really developed a habit to take coffee outside.

About my relation to plants, my first thought is about the fruit trees over there, we have planted them for each of our dogs that has died in recent years...and what also comes to my mind is a big tree in the "Park of the freedom" in Sofia, people just say that they meet "at the tree" and everybody understands, we also climb into this tree.

In Berlin I remember the Potsdamer Platz as a big open space before the contruction and I also remember a sign on that site saying "this space belongs to Sony". And I was wondering about this. And in Istanbul I remember the big open air market - a big mess, many people, very impressing, for me it was the most remarkable open space in Istanbul."

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Momchil Yordanon Slavov:

"I am from Sofia but I don't live in the centre right now, however I would like to move again to the centre as soon as possible. This is one of the oldest gardens in Sofia and it is situated behind the fromer king's palace, today this is the national art gallery. Therefore, in former times this was not a public garden but reserved for the royal family.

I like that this garden in situated in the centre of the city but at the same time it is very calm and silent, you can talk to people in a relaxed atmosphere. When I was a child I was always impressed by the height and the age of the trees. I have changed but the trees have remainded the same. Another aspect is that this is a garden where you can feel something like an ancient Bulgarian spirit, you can not find this anywhere, it is specific of this place. I was some 150 years ago when Bulgaria became independent form the ottoman empire, that was the start of the independent existence of this country and that was also the time when this park was opened to the public.

I feel specifically related to some very old trees, Platanus tress, which can be found over there at the other side, these are the oldest trees here. I come here very often, almost every day, and we deliberately pass through this garden...."

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Sofıa: Rametnika


Biser, 11 years old:

"I don't live that close to this place but I can get here by bus, it is just two stops, my friends always come with me. I do not come very often but regularily. I don't go to any other open space. We come here only for skateboarding. I would not change anything."

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