The town of Pazardjik is hoping tourists flock to take a seat.
By Tzvetina Borisova for Southeast European Times in Sofia -- 25/07/11
The bench is 1,111m long and can seat 2,020 people. [Tzvetina Borisova/SETimes]
What has been dubbed as "the world's longest bench" was officially inaugurated in the southern Bulgarian town of Pazardjik last month. The bench, situated in a picturesque park on a river island, is 1,111m long and can seat 2,020 people.
Architect Dimitar Boyukliev, who designed the project, told SETimes they initially targeted a length over 1,000m since they wanted to be sure nobody would beat the length. They chose the figure 1,111 for the symbolism of many number ones.
Currently, the world's longest wooden bench officially recorded by Guinness World Records is 613.13m long and is located at the stadium in Osieczna, Poland.
The idea for Pazardjik to beat this record arose two years ago, when a local businessman contacted the town's administration with a proposal to sponsor the building of benches in the park that locals call "The Island".
Built as a city park in the communist-era times, it had fallen into rough shape, suffering the wear and tear of time as well as vandalism. The municipality embraced the revitalisation idea, suggesting that as long as they are going to build benches, they might as well go for a record and make the world's longest bench. The park, after all, offered suitable conditions for the project, as the bench could extend uninterrupted without breaking any structures or alleys.
Work began with most of the financing provided by local businesses and the rest coming from the municipality. Now that the bench is completed with just a few small details left, Pazardjik is firmly on its way to Guinness.
"There are two ways to apply -- one is to invite a commission of Guinness to come to our town, and the second is by sending them documents proving our record. We are going to go for the second way," Pazardjik's chief architect Krastyo Tankov told SETimes.
According to him, although their town is not a traditional tourist destination, it has a strategic location on the highway connecting Sofia and Plovdiv. Authorities hope the bench may lure people travelling between the two cities to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee in the beautiful park.
"In order to enter geography books, you have to get into history books first," Tankov says.
The park, totally transformed from its abandoned state a couple of years ago, currently hosts art events and sculpture exhibitions, leading visitors on a pleasant tour around the area. There is also a cycling track, a football field, entertainment facilities for kids and even an open-air reading area with books provided by the local library.
From a deserted place people avoided, it has become a favorite hangout for locals looking for ways to escape the noise of the town and have fun.