Abandoned Ski Jump - Atlas Obscura

Abandoned Ski Jump

Borovets, Bulgaria

A crumbling monument to a now locally-extinct sport in Bulgaria's oldest ski resort. 


The Cold War was cold for a reason, being fought anywhere but on the battlefield. One such field where the Soviet Union liked to demonstrate power was sports, from weightlifting to figure skating, often with extreme methods of training and preparation. To achieve satisfactory results, talented youngsters had to be found and state-of-the-art infrastructure had to be built locally, so countries like Bulgaria invested heavily in youth sports programs and massive structures including pools, ropeways, and even a 70-meter ski jump.

Set on the northern slope of the Rila Mountains, some 70 kilometers from Sofia, the scenic winter resort town of Borovets (known as Chamkoria until World War II) was the oldest in Bulgaria. The resort was established around the turn of the 20th century as a retreat for the royals and affluent families from the capital. After the war, the resort stagnated for a while; but once it had stabilized itself, the communist regime developed it extensively. The 1960s through the 80s saw the building of grand hotels, ropeways, extended ski routes, and even a fully FIS-compliant ski jump in a clearing east of the existing slopes.

Finished in 1973, the 70-meter brutalist concrete behemoth was a state-of-the-art structure, including a judge tower, a ropeway, as well as other useful facilities that kept it in use for more than 15 years. After 1989, however, the state-backed sports funding dried up. As with many other high-maintenance structures across the land, the ski jump was abandoned.

Today, out of at least three ski jumps that existed in Bulgaria, none remains in operation. Thanks to the solid materials with which it was built, the one in Borovets still stands—although close inspection shows that nothing short of a complete overhaul would be needed to make it useable again.

Know Before You Go

The top of the structure is located 750 meters from Hotel Olimp in Borovets along a dirt road. While no sign expressly forbids it, it is recommended not to go all the way by car as the road is very dusty.

So leave your car around the beginning of the dirt road and hike from there. During the winter season, this road may be less accessible as it crosses ski slopes.

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February 14, 2024

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