Buzludzha monument might be restored

Last summer I visited this incredible relic of Bulgaria’s communist past and found it in a sad state of disrepair. The snow and low temperatures of winter had damaged the domed roofed so badly that the danger of collapse was imminent and the authorities had welded shut all doors and windows to prevent access to the inside of the building.

A combination of bad memories of the country’s communist era and lack of funds for its maintenance left the building to slowly deteriorate alone atop the mountain, but contrary to what most people thought, it has not fallen into oblivion. In recent years it has become a rather popular destination among independent and adventure travellers, photographers, and all sorts of people drawn to the strange but compelling attraction of abandoned places with an interesting story within its walls.

The ownership of the building was transferred from the state to the Bulgarian Socialist Party in 2011, but with restoration costing an estimate 7.6 million euro and a further 75,000 euro per year in maintenance, the party had doubts about what to do with it.

buzludzha-32The recent surge in interest in the building prompted a group of young Bulgarians without any political ties to wonder how the country could capitalise this interest and at the same time preserve an important part of its historical heritage.

Dora Ivanova, a 26-year old architect, has designed a project to restore the monument and turn it into a museum of Bulgarian history under the name ‘Buzludzha, Memory of Time”. She estimates the cost of the project to be around 1.25 million euro, much less than the Socialist Party figures, and has already received support from Nikolay Ovcharov, one of Bulgaria’s most prominent archaeologists, who introduced her to Boyko Borissov, the country’s PM.

Mr. Borissov promised to put an end to the building’s continuing decay, even though there are still many in the country who see it as a reminder of an era of totalitarian rule and would rather leave it to ruin.





The Calvert Journal


A communist UFO

Day 26 – Tuesday 23th August – From Idilevo to Buzludzha and back (162km)

The night before a storm had started while we were having the barbecue and had raged all night while I comfortably slept tucked under a duvet hearing the rain pelting against the window and the roof. The following morning the sky was still covered in clouds and there was a forecast of rain at some time during the day, so I could not plan on venturing into the mountains and find some trails, everything was muddy and a few days ago one of the British girls who spent the summer in the village had had a fall while offroading and hurt her shoulder.

I decided to pop into the Sevlievo, the nearest big town, to get some oil for the chain oiler and do some housekeeping on the bike. Once that was done the weather seemed to improve a bit, so I decided to go and visit Buzludzha, which was about 60km away by paved roads and it was something I really wanted to visit.

Buzludzha is not a town, but a mountain peak, and the reason I wanted to go there was not to do some hiking, but to visit the monument that is located at its top, more than 1400m above sea level. This is no ordinary monument, but a concrete monster built in 1981 to commemorate the founding of the Bulgarian Communist Party in a secret meeting that had taken place there a hundred years before.

20160823070612The building is an enormous round concrete structure that resembles a flying saucer with a high tower behind it, and it housed an arena intended for state functions and celebrations. Not proud of its communist past, the Bulgarian government let the building fall into disrepair and now it sits slowly falling to pieces in the middle of nowhere.

20160823070800After riding up the Shipka pass, another amazing road to add to my list, I took a smaller road that led to the monument. This one was in quite bad conditions, possibly also forgotten by the government, as it only leads to the building.

20160823064016It was a rather heavy morning, and after some tight corners I reached a col from where the imposing structure first came into view. At the col there was another monumental construction, two hands holding torches, from where a footpath led up the mountain to the building. The road continued, though, so I went on until I reached the end of it at the foot of huge stairs that raised to the entrance.

20160823065516Up to no long ago, the building had been open, but in recent years the roof had deteriorated considerably, so the government had decided to weld the doors shut. Even so, people had managed to break through some window panes into the staircases, and from then on a kind of battle had been taking place – someone cut open the iron bars blocking access and a few days later the authorities would go and weld some new bars on. Being able to see the inside of the building was a matter of being lucky with your timing and going there at the right window of time.

DCIM123GOPROAt the Motocamp, the latest info going round was that it had just been closed again, and sure enough, when I got there I could find no way of accessing the interior despite going round the building several times. I was very disappointed, but I have to admit that it was still very impressive from the outside.

DCIM123GOPROI escaped the rain on the way back made it to the camp dry, where I spent the rest of the day catching up on my writing and chatting to the people there.