Exploring the massive Buzludzha building in Bulgaria
The building is located on the peak of ‘Mount Buzludzha’ at an altitude of 1,432 meters. The photos in this post are shot about halfway through December of 2015, during winter, and it was very cold. I flew from Dortmund (Germany) to Sofia (Bulgaria) and spent a couple of days in this country, specifically to explore abandoned buildings. Despite visiting other amazing abandoned locations on this trip—like a theatre and chapel—the Buzludzha building was by far the highlight of my tour and even my whole year. Visiting it had been on my wish-list for such a long time, and 2015 was the year to make it happen.
The third day of the trip was scheduled to be the Buzludzha day, and I couldn’t wait for it. I arrived at the hotel in Shipka just before it was getting dark and was welcomed by a lovely old lady that did not speak a word of English or German. She phoned the owners, who fortunately did speak English, and they assured me they’d be there very soon. I was allowed to enter my room while waiting and took a nap, followed by a quick look around the town. When I arrived back at the hotel to have dinner, the owners were waiting. Over dinner, they shared interesting facts about the Buzludzha building and told me their thoughts about communism in general.
After a good (if too short) night’s sleep, it was time to leave so we could catch the sunrise from within the Buzludzha building. It was dark and the roads were very slippery. I get scared quite easily if I can’t completely control the car because of slippery roads so the way up was really terrifying to me. When we arrived at the building, I was amazed by the sheer size of it. I had seen pictures of course, but seeing it in real life was breathtaking. I knew how to enter so I quickly found my way inside and went to the top floor to await the sunrise. When it finally started, it was magical. I can’t describe how it felt to sit on the edge of the top floor and enjoy the sunrise from within this amazing abandoned building.
As soon as I was done enjoying the view during the sunrise, I started exploring the rest of the building. It’s basically just one really big room that looks like a conference center. The mosaic walls and ceiling were impressive to see, and everything was much larger then expected. The state the building amazed me: it was really bad. I can’t imagine that it’ll last for another couple of years.
I’ve taken shots of the main hall from every angle I liked and, once I was happy with the results, I waited for my friend to be ready as well so that we could start our journey to the top of the tower right next (and attached) to the main building. The owner of the hotel I stayed in during the night showed me how to gain entrance.
You enter the tower from within the main building, at the end of a rather dark hallway. About 75% of the way up to the tower was in complete darkness. There was very little space and the stairs were a tough set to climb. This is definitely not an excursion for the claustrophobic or those scared of the dark. Once I reached the first platform where there was light, I was standing behind the tower’s red star you might have noticed in the pictures. I’ve been told that people actually used to toss rocks at the star because they believed it was made out of ruby, hoping parts would fall down. By then I knew it wouldn’t take very long to reach the top of the tower. After another couple of stairs, I finally reached the top and was rewarded with a truly amazing view. From one side you could see right down onto the roof of the main building; from the other, a lovely view of the surrounding. I expected it to be very cold at the top but I was surrounded by a couple of walls that blocked the wind which made it a very pleasant stay. This was my experience exploring this amazing building. I’d love to get back.
One of the main reasons why I wanted to visit this place so badly is the history of it. It’s more then ‘just’ another abandoned building, and also happens to play a very important role in local tourism.
The building was opened in 1981 to celebrate both the Bulgarian liberation from Ottoman rule (1891), and the 1944 victory against Hitler’s domination of Bulgaria. Russia played a key role in both of these events. Next to this, the monument served as the symbolic headquarters for the Bulgarian Communist Party. The owners of the hotel I slept in told me that communists held secret meetings, concerts, and gatherings at the place.
Over 60 different Bulgarian artists collaborated on designing the murals you seen in the pictures, and thousands of volunteers were involved in the construction process. Some of the murals show the faces of Engels, Marx, and Lenin; others depict the labor and construction the monument itself. Construction costs were about 14 million Bulgarian Lev, which is around 8 million US Dollars to date. Citizens donated money to construct the monument, since they were told it was a monument for the people, by the people.
In some of the pictures you see a massive tower that is over 100 meters in height. It has a huge red star in it, which was three times as large as the star at the Kremlin. It was claimed that the red light it emitted could be seen from as far away as Greece and Romania.
Bulgarian communism ended around 1989, at which time the Buzludzha monument was inherited by the state. About 6 years later, in the mid 90’s, decay started to kick in and the building surrendered to the elements of nature. I was told that the building was protected by security guards until the mid 90’s. The roof of the building used to consist entirely of copper and was extremely heavy. Within one night after security was removed, the entire copper roof was looted. It’s insane that this building was only open for about 8 years and the state it’s currently in is such a shame.
The locals I’ve talked to have a split opinion about the building: they dislike what the building stands for since most of them are really against communism and hate the fact it’s called a communist monument, but they can’t run their businesses without the existing of the monument. On a yearly basis many tourists come to see the monument and use the facilities nearby towns have to offer.
Below you can find a couple of extra pictures, mainly of the main hall, that I captured during this visit: