The Balkan mountains are one of the most important places in Bulgarian history. In those mountains with a total length of 557 kilometers, some of the most important historical event of the Balkan country’s history took place.
The history of Buzludzha
It is there where the Bulgarian army in 1868, lead by Hadzhi Dimitâr and counting only 30 soldiers lost to almost 700 Ottoman soldiers, a loss that would become an inspiration for the revolution that concluded in the liberation of Bulgaria 10 years later. In the same mountains, a century later, the partisans would fight against the powers of fascism in WWII. Finally, in this place the philosopher Dimitâr Blagoev organized meetings with socialist politicians, which would lead to the founding of the ‘’Social Democratic Party of Bulgaria’’, that would be afterward renamed ‘’Bulgarian Communist Party’’.
Those events, especially after the establishment of socialism in the country, Added a special meaning to the mountain with the first monuments being constructed. By the 2nd of July of 1961, three out of four pieces of art had already been presented. Those consisted of a statue of Hadzhi Dimitâr, an engraved plate that depicted the congress of the foundation of the Communist Party and a monument that was dedicated to the memory of the partisans that fought in Gabrov and Sevlievo.
It was the 4th monument that would be the most spectacular of all the idea behind it was a red star, the symbol of socialism, that would be placed on the top of Buzludzha mountain. The competition that was organized was won by the young architect Georgi Stoilov but because of the peculiarity of the mountain, it couldn’t be ready by the time of the opening ceremony of the others.
The first blueprint that was submitted was never built. This included adding placed on top of six columns, but because of the extreme weather conditions of winter (almost -25 degrees Celcius), The government asked the young architect to rethink his plans in order for the building to have an inner heating system and to be able to accommodate events for many people.
The final blueprint included a main Oval shaped building connected to a tower 70 meters of height. On the top of the tower, there was a red star build of dark shaded glass which had the ability to glow. Many stories Bell dot when this was turned on it was visible from neighboring Romania and Greece. The main building looked like a flying disc and that’s why people still call it ‘’UFO’’. The building was ready in 1977, four years before the original deadline. For its construction worked almost 6000 people and the total cost in today’s currency was about $35,000,000. An interesting fact is that, in order for the building to be constructed, dynamite was used in order to reduce the mountain’s height about 9 meters.
The interior of Buzludzha
The interior of the monument was as spectacular as the exterior, with the walls Bing decorated with mosaics that depicted the history of the socialist movement in the country. The figures of great personalities such as Marx, Engels και Lenin accompanied by the Bulgarians co-workers are worth mentioning. Pictures of space travelling, the history of the working class and war are also present.
Maybe the most emblematic part is the mosaic of a hammer and sickle in the interior’s roof accompanied by the phrase ‘’proletariats of all countries, unite ‘’.
The fate of Buzludzha the fall of the communist system
The entrance in the monument was free for everyone, mainly because it was built with public funding. The Buzludzha monument what’s open both us in a museum and a conference place for a whole decade. In this period of time, approximately 2 million Bulgarian citizens of all ages visited it.
The fate of the building took a different path after the fall of the communist system and the democratic movement in the country. The monument was abandoned and left to be destroyed by extreme weather conditions, vandalism and graffiti. the glass windows have almost all been torn apart with water and snow spoiling to an extent rate the interior mosaics. The roof started falling apart with some parts falling down. the place of the exceptional design was taken by broken stairs and walls.
Today the Buzludzha Memorial House is ‘’the shadow of its former self’’. However, in this ruined condition it started attracting new visitors. Travelers from all around the world started visiting the monument due to its great location, the atmosphere that abandonment offers end it’s political past. Pictures of the monument have traveled or around the world, with the building being described as one of the most beautiful modern ruins.
In 2011 the Communist Party of Bulgaria submitted a formal request do you own the monument, a request that proved successful at first. In 2017 the party lost all the rights to the monument. Since then it is owned by the government but it was never officially declared as a World Heritage site due to its controversial political past.
In the last years, an effort started in order for the building to be rebuilt and reestablished as a museum. Recently, the Bulgarian government got a donation of 185.000$ from an American foundation in order to start the process. The entrance to the Buzludzha Monument was banned a few years ago due to fears of stealing and injuries but many tourists found their way in. Many videos can be found online. in 2019 all the possible entrances where sealed and a 24h guard was put. Even now though there are some people that have managed to sneak in.
The access to Buzludzha
Despite the building entrance being sealed, the Bulgarian Ministry of tourism encourages tourists to visit the place and enjoy the spectacular exterior design. undoubtedly it is one of the most beautiful attractions someone visiting Bulgaria can see. Furthermore, it can be reached from most of the big Bulgarian cities.
While public transport cannot reach the Buzludzha monument directly, there are many ways someone can visit it. maybe the simplest way for someone to get there is to rent a car. The road trip from Sofia takes approximately three to four hours. Furthermore, there are many tour operators that organized Expeditions from different parts of the country. There is an official list posted on the monument’s website. However, for those that seek a more adventurous experience, there is a hiking path from the near towns of Shipka or Kazanlâk. The hike is about 20 kilometers and many tourists described it as an unbelievable experience.
The Buzludzha monument is maybe one of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th century. This makes it a «must-go» attraction for travelers that seek one unconventional experience. Only time can show whether the Bulgarian UFO will be renovated or turned into ruins.