THE ECOTOPIA 2121 PROJECT PREDICTS / PLANS THE FUTURES OF 100 SUPER ECO-FRIENDLY CITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. THIS WEEK, WE FOCUS ON THE BLACK SEA CITY OF VARNA.
Varna, the marine capital of Bulgaria, is a city with a long and tortuous path to utopia...
4000 BC: Varna flourishes as a key trading site in the Copper Age on the western coast of the Black Sea.
600 BC–300 BC: Varna is refounded as a trading port by Greek merchants. The city is later claimed by Darius, the Persian emperor, before Alexander the Great takes it from him again for his own empire.
15 AD: Romans take the city, building palaces, roads, and bathhouses, all pleasantly overlooking the sea.
662–1444: Bulgarian Slavs move from somewhere east of the Black Sea to take Varna into their new kingdom. The Byzantines win it back. The Bulgarians take it back again. The Byzantines claim it from the Bulgarians once more, and so on and on for many centuries. Eventually, the Ottomans invade and colonize both Byzantium and Varna.
1862: The Turkish Ottoman ruler of Varna commissions a small private garden by the sea.
1878: Russia attempts many times to “liberate” Varna from Ottoman rule, finally succeeding this year.
1881: The new Bulgarian mayor pays a French landscaper to greatly expand the “small private garden” into a “massive public garden” by the sea. Reports suggest corruption was involved in the arrangement.
1905: The sea garden grows to twenty-five acres, becoming the largest garden in the Balkans.
1946: Under the Soviet Russia influence, Bulgaria, and Varna within it, submits to Communist Party rule.
1949: Varna is renamed “Stalin” after the Soviet leader (but reverts back to 'Varna' in 1956).
1989: Communism falls apart in Bulgaria, and the Varna leadership is democratically elected.
2006: Bulgaria becomes part of the European Union. Meanwhile, corrupt deals along the Varna coast are uncovered whereby politicians seem to pocket the proceeds of public lands sold to hotel developers.
2036: Most of the sea garden is privatized and sold off by Varna officials to luxury resort developers.
2121: Varna citizens stage an occupation of the old grounds of the sea garden, demanding that it be returned to the public and the hotels transformed into public schools. Varna is finally a green utopia.
Dicke, K., I. Dougherty, M. Jestice, P. Jorgensen, C. Pavkovic, and M. DeVries. Battles of the Crusades 1097–1444: From Dorylaeum to Varna. Gloucestershire, UK: Spellmount, 2007.
Forbes, N. The Balkans: A History of Bulgaria and Serbia. Pyrrhus Press, 2014.
Gounev, P., and V. Ruggiero. Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe. London: Routledge, 2014.
Marshall, A. Ecotopia 2121: Visions of Our Future Green Utopia, Skyhorse Publ., NY.