Exploring Buzludzha - An Abandoned Communist Building
Here we are in Bulgaria once again… No matter what we just get drawn to this beautiful country, I mean, minor detail that my family lives there but that's beside the point. A while ago we read an article about the 20 creepiest buildings in the world and to our delight, one of them was in Bulgaria. So this time we decided to check it out and explore a different side of Bulgaria - which not that long ago was a proud member of the socialist communist party led by the Soviet Union. In order to commemorate those great times, the Bulgarian socialist party decided to erect a massive, UFO - shaped monument atop the 1432 meter high Buzluzdha peak. Because what better way to show everyone their prosperity? So here we are, May of 2017 and on the way to see this building that seems unreal. We are in a mini-van accompanied by my sister, her boyfriend and their 3 month old baby ready to take on the 3 hour drive from Sofia to Buzludzha.
On the way there, we decided to make a nearby stop and see another great symbol of Bulgarian history - the Shipka Monument, built atop Shipka Summit (seems to me Bulgarians like building stuff on top of high pieces of land).
This monument is quite symbolic and has a much greater historical significance so the memorial seemed worth the detour. The memorial complex was erected in memory of the fallen Bulgarian volunteers and Russian soldiers during the Shipka Battles in the summer of 1877. Shipka Battle played a crucial role in the Russian -Turkish War and for the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. We had been here once before in 2015 but the weather that day was not working with us - the wind was so strong and the fog was so thick that we couldn't see the top of the monument. This time, the odds were ever in our favor (movie reference, get it?) and the weather was beautiful! The winding, bumpy road up to the monument takes about an hour but the scenery is beautiful so the drive is not that bad.
Once we reached the top of the stairs, we were struck by an amazing view - the monument right behind us and below was a breathtaking view of green mountains and blue skies. Words and pictures don't do justice to the view we witnessed. I suppose I now realize why monuments and high peaks work well together in Bulgaria. Point taken. We climbed the stairs from the parking lot to the memorial (don't worry, it's not THAT many) and boom there she is in all her beauty. What amazes me is how did they build it over 100 years ago without the technology we have today? Did they carry each stone up the hill by hand? And here I am complaining about the stairs I had to climb.... lucky for us the memorial which is now a museum was open so we went in.
We entered through a small oval door and up a tiny spiral staircase. They have turned every separate level into a museum hall representing different parts of the war, showcasing military uniforms and weapons as well as old photographs commemorating important people and times. Once we got to the last set of stairs, which of course got steeper and steeper, we went through a small metal door and out unto the top of the tower.
We walked out with a 360 degree view presented in front of us - looking down the vast green lands from that height is simply amazing. From there we spotted Buzludzha, standing by itself on another peak a few miles away. Even from a distance we could tell the sheer volume of this strange-looking building and our excitement grew even more. We enjoyed the view a bit longer, signed the guestbook and then we were back in the van and ready to go see the reason why we took this little day trip - Buzludzha!
We went down the same bumpy road and then took a sharp turn that led us to an even more winding and bumpier road. The bumps and the pot holes seemed endless, already illustrating the fact that this once beautiful building had long been forgotten. We made it to the top and there she was - this giant, intriguing structure sitting there silently expecting us. It was weird, awkward, and out of place but stunning at the same time. We walked around it trying to figure out a way to get in but all entrances and windows seemed to be fenced in. Finally we spotted a hole on the ground that let us into the basement of the building… sort of a boiler room.
We were not the first people to go down that hole as there was a small rope on the side so that people can come back up. We made it to the bottom only to discover water had flooded the place... it was knee-deep so unfortunately we couldn't continue our adventure. It had been raining for a few days prior to our trip. So, we came back out disappointed that we couldn't sneak in and see the inside of this strange structure, which back in the day looked completely different. 16 million leva, tax payers' money, was spent to construct this massive weirdness. Back in the day that was a lot of money... still is but especially 50 years ago.
The outside of the building is as neglected as the inside with graffiti all over, broken windows, wires and steel poking through the cracks.
It’s too bad to see it like that... not that I've ever seen it in it’s prime other than in pictures. But it makes me sad because nothing (even buildings) should die alone and be forgotten. The good news is that there are rumors that the Bulgarian government wants to remodel Buzludzha and turning it into a history museum. Fingers crossed as I would like to see it shining again.