It’s a flying saucer. Or maybe a golf tee. Or maybe a ladle.
OK fine, it’s actually none of those things. What it is… is a massive concrete monument dedicated to the founding of the Bulgarian Communist party. Buzludzha was built in the 1980s as a grand symbol to the power and prosperity of the ruling party. To be fair, the party did have enough money to build it, but after the fall of Communism in the early 1990s the building was largely abandoned as a relic of the past.
In recent years the authorities have tried to block access to Buzludzha by barring the front doors. But that hasn’t stopped someone from prying open a window that allows you in climb in. And after having been inside myself, I can see why the authorities don’t want people in the ruins. There is debris everywhere, including dangerous gaps in the floor, lethal branches of steel re-bar rising from the ground, and ceiling panels that could come down at any moment. Oh and there’s the risk of asbestos too.
As you ascend the first flight of steps into the main auditorium you can really feel the faded sense of grandeur that this place used to have. There’s still the frescoes on the walls and the bar red hammer and sickle on the ceiling. The size, condition of ruin, and eeriness of the place left me in awe.
Given the dense fog and generally rusty condition of the staircase I decided not to climb up to the top of the 30 story tower. One person in our group did go to the top and promptly came back down because there was no visibility. I’m sure on a clear day you can see for miles in all directions.
To reach the monument, we hired a car in Veliko Tarnovo for 40 levas (appx 20 euros) and spent about 30 levas for petrol for the entire day. We drove up to the Shipka Monument via Gabrovo, parked up at the monument, then hiked up the paved stone path for about 15 minutes to reach the top. The mountain road’s condition is not great and there are lots of sharp corners so do be careful. The drive takes around 1.5 hours each way, but it’s totally worth the trip!