Old Communist Railway Tunnel near Kosharitsa village

Bulgarian tortoiseI first read about the abandoned communist railway tunnel on a forum, which directed me to an older blog post, describing the tunnel. We had a rough idea where it was and as we own an apartment close to Kosharitsa (for sale by the way), we decided to try and find it when we were next in the area. We set off up a track behind Kosharitsa village, parked the car and headed up the hill, following an over-grown track. However, after half an hour or so of trekking and our only sighting being a tortoise, we came to the conclusion we were going in the wrong direction. So it was back down to the car, back to the main road and just a little further along towards the edge of the village we spotted another track. We drove along here a little way and pulled up close to two large concrete structures and what we later realised were supports for a train line never built.

Kosharitsa railway tunnelThis path was bit more easy going and followed a stream and on the other side of this, there appeared to be a banking. After 20 minutes or so the path crossed the stream, but seemed very overgrown, so we decided to follow the rocky stream bed a little while, before we spotted another track. This led us under a bridge and seemed to meander on into the hills. But there seemed no real reason for this bridge to be where it was and so we scrambled up the side of the banking, using the trees to hoist ourselves up to the top. And there was the entrance to the tunnel and running in the opposite direction, the top of the banking where the tracks would have run.

There is an imposing concrete and brick built structure and a lot of random concrete slabs close by. Very narrow steep steps allow you to access a platform at the top of the building and if you are feeling brave, you can cross the muddy wet area in front of the tunnel entrance and peer into the gloom beyond. The tunnel has mainly been bricked up now and is sat in stagnant dark water. Others who have explored further say the tunnel now goes for around a kilometre before it is completely blocked up. It is supposed to run for anything from 4 to 8km.

The tunnel was started in 1958 as a way to connect two main Bulgarian ports (Varna and Burgas) by train but abandoned before completion. There are various theories as to the real purpose of the tunnel. Bulgaria was an unofficial satellite state of the old Soviet Union during the communist era and it was very common for the former USSR to outsource production and so Bulgaria was slowly turned into an efficient labour pool and production line for the Soviet Union. Its around 130km between Burgas and Varna but the two ports are separated by the end of the Balkan mountain range and so it was necessary to excavate a tunnel beneath the hills north of Burgas. Had it been completed the railway line would have provided additional infrastructure for the movement of products and labour.

Kosharitsa railway tunnel 13613530_10154032862405376_3228175637849900860_o

Another claim is that the tunnel was part of a military plan to allow the quick transfer of troops to the border with Turkey. Bulgaria only gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1908 following the Russian-Turkish war and even years later, the Bulgarians remained wary of the Turks.

 

The trek back down was a little easier and on the way back, we disturbed a snake that had just caught a mouse and was starting to constrict it. However, after a few photos the snake started to get a little agitated and turned his attention to us, allowing the mouse to make a rapid escape!

snake eating a mouse

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