BULGARIA – Urban exploring in Buzludzha Communist Building (2014.06.01)

Bulgaria - Buzludzha
Bulgaria - Buzludzha

We, my daughter of 8 and me, were in Sofia for a long weekend (see post: BULGARIA – Sofia (2014.05.28 – 2014.06.02)). Actually we did not plan to visit this monument as it was not so close to Sofia, but Sofia we saw in a day, and other day to the Rila Monastery we had a day free to see the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak; which happen to be 30 minutes from the Buzludzha monument. So it was decided.

Lets start at the start, some history: Buzludzha is the name of a peak of the central Balkan Mountain range in Bulgaria, the total height is 1441 meters. It has a long history where in 1868 the battle between Bulgarian rebels and the Ottoman Empire ended. In 1891 Bulgarian socialists led by Dimitar Blagoev started here in secret a socialist movement called the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party. This later turned into the Bulgarian Communist Party. In 1981 the monument was opened to commemorate the the events of 1891. The monument has a tower, and a UFO shaped building next to it. The UFO shaped part has a basement with small rooms and a way to get to the tower. The main entrance leads to a hall and stairs go up to the auditorium. The walls here all covered with mosaics, around this is a circular hallway with windows with views in the valleys. Also the inner wall covered with mosaics. After the fall off the communist party in late 80’s the monument became abandoned. It got vandalized and is in decay. Now the roof is damaged and might not support it much longer; its also closed for public (or not?) read one….

Bulgaria - Buzludzha
Bulgaria – Buzludzha Auditorium in Decay

How it looked before? See the following gallery (photo’s used from www.buzludja.com with permission) for how the building looked when it was in use and some photo’s of it’s construction.

After some frightening stories to my daughter the evening before of ghosts in the building we set of the day before 8AM and to to Kazanlak around 10:30 AM where we checked out first the Thracian Tombs, from there we drove the Buzludzha in about 30 minutes. The road out of town you will find a large statue along the road where you have to turn right. Once you get at a T-junction you can go left to see the torch monument with a great view of Buzludzha itself. Then go back the other way and you can drive up to the monument. We arrived in nice blue weather for great picture; but during our visit as you can see on the photo’s it became a bit cloudy. Actually this was nice so we got two kinds of pictures, clear ones and ones which made the whole place a bit mystical.

We were not alone…………….. there were more tourist 🙂

The tricky part is to get into the building as the main entrance is sealed locked (see photos). Looking at the main entrance go around on the right side, and just around the corner you will find a small opening: that’s the entrance! (at least at the time of writing this blog). See photo for the opening. By entering here you end up half way the stairs from the main hall to the auditorium. Going through the opening you can also go down, there you end up in one of the rooms accessible from the main hall; go up, it’s more easy and you can go down on the stairs. There was a young couple also going in, and they helped a bit with my daughter which was very kind of them. Now you’re inside and can start exploring!

If you go up the stairs you end up in the auditorium, here you can see around the steps where there were chairs before. There are total three stairs going down to the main hall, and three stairs going up to the hallway around. In the auditorium you see a lot of mosaics of which most important are: one side Zhikov (full image is removed), Blagoev and Dimitrov and on the other side Marx, Engels and Lenin. At the ceiling you see the emblem of the party. From the auditorium you can walk to the outer ring where you have a nice view over the mountains. All windows are broken and can be quite windy and cold inside! On the inner wall here you find full around the building mosaics of various heroic images. They are damaged and on some parts (see photo) you can see the drawing on the walls where after they have put the mosaics. In the gallery you find images of all of the parts where there was some mosaics left. After checking out everything twice we went down again.

From the main hall, you have access to two rooms on the left and right of the main entrance, mainly dark and garbage. Opposite the main entrance at the ground level you can walk straight to get access to the tower and climb to the top. We did not do this as it was not wise with a child of 8 years plus it got cloudy and nothing could be seen. Also behind the stairs there is the access to the cellar which we also not visited due to possible health problems with the wet and mold inside. When we got out of the building the sky cleared up and we had chance to make some nice photo’s with partly blue sky.

Is it safe? Yes, but you must be carefully if nothing falls down of the roof. Beside that not much can happen at the present moment. To climb the tower, it’s possible safe but not with child. The cellars and underground might have some problem with mold due to humidity. The rooms there are said to be only garbage anyway and nothing interesting to see. Better to skip without proper equipment.

All in a great experience which I would not have wanted to miss!

After seeing this building we sincerely hope that there will be funding to at least preserve it from further decay. This actually is a matter of putting some sort of cover on the roof. For us, it was a non forgettable trip and for my daughter a great experience.  Hope to be back one day!

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