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Kranostroene Factory A derelict crane factory in Aytos

Kranostroene Factory

Aytos, Bulgaria

  • SPACE TYPE: Factory


Tags: Bulgaria, factory, industrial, Totally Lost 2015

These images were taken at the now abandoned, ruined and derelict “Kranostroene” crane-building factory in Aytos, Bulgaria. The factory had been operational since the 1970s and had manufactured cranes for local industry and for export abroad to European and Soviet Block countries. In addition the Kranostroene (literally translated as crane- building) factory had employed numerous of people from my hometown of Aytos. In fact, my maternal grandmother’s brother used to work there. However, with the fall of communism in Bulgaria in 1989, this factory, like many other industries and factories, slowly went out of business, as former clients and markets were no longer available.

The complex itself, which consists of a number of different buildings (administration, manufacturing, kitchen, machine shop, etc.) had been under lock and key for years, with the large yard where cranes were tested, accessible quite easily. However, staring in 2010, I noticed, driving by, that some of the doors were open and there were ways to gain access to more interesting areas than just the yard.

Since 2010, I have been in the buildings numerous times, documenting various stages of decay and theft (by locals, gypsies and petty criminals). Until recently, there were still quite a lot of artifacts from the times when the factory thrived that could be found. Chairs, pictures, documents, chemicals, old phones, unused rolls of film, the list goes on and on. Additionaly, vehicles and machinery were also in plentiful supply, just sitting around, as if the people the made this place living, just stopped what they were doing and walked out one day, never to return. In fact, I think this might be just what happened.

As the years have advanced, and the closed Kranostroene factory slowly “opened its doors” to the curious (and greedy) outside world, vandalism and theft have reduced the complex to almost a bare skeleton of a building. Anything worthwhile has been stripped by gypsies and sold. Others have been content to just walk in and break whatever was left intact. Warning pasted upon the walls, stating that intruders will be “shot on sight” are disregarded. Unfortunately, not all of us who explore have the desire to take only pictures and leave only footprints…

It might be interesting to note that the Kranostroene factory still exists, in some form, under the name “Aytos Cranes”. Their website can be found at and their main operations, whatever they are, seem to be located in the city of Burgas, nearby. Aytos Cranes are the actual owners of the former Kranostroene site in Aytos and will, I suppose, at some point decide the fate of what still remains standing.

Until that time comes (and quite probably after, as well), the socialist ghost of Kranostroene will continue to remind everyone of Bulgaria’s failure to preserve its industries and its livelihood past the fall of socialist rule. Hopefully, it will be a lesson that will not be soon and easily thrown into the volatile dustbin of history.


Manol Manolov


I am a photographer from the USA, who was born in Bulgaria. Many of my images are shot during trips back to my birthplace. I document abandoned pieces of history that still have a story to tell today. See my work at:

CONTRIBUTOR: Manol Z. Manolov