By now you might have realized that i am really digging Bulgarian culture and random travel destinations, even on the likelihood of sounding like a spoiled Western person, i find it all refreshing and magical in its own way, from old monasteries to moshes to the grey Soviet blocks. As i am getting towards the end of my stay in Bulgaria (scary!) i am also almost through my bucket list of places to see. Last weekend i finally made it to Buzludzha, a place and building so unique..that hardly anyone has ever heard of it!
Buzludzha is sitting in central Bulgaria at a height of 1441 meters. It marks the site of the final battle between Bulgarian rebels and the Turks/Ottomans in 1868. The monument itself was built by the communist regime to commemorate the events in 1891 when the socialists assembled secretly in the area to form an organised socialist movement. It was opened in 1981. At that time it was the absolute pride of the party. After the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1991, the building has been left there to fight the elements. Although most entrances are blocked off, the place has been vandalized but has also acquired much damage through snow and ice (funfact: the word buzluca means icy and there was still multiple cm of it everywhere) and i think it won’t’ be “safe” to enter for much longer.
Two lovely people came from Sofia just to see the UFO so together we took the bus to Kazanlak in the morning. Kazanlak is this sleepy town of 40-50 000 people that is famous for its rose oil production..ooooh. Anyway, there we met up with another lovely person and the 4 of us took a 25km taxi ride to Buzludzha that dropped us off right in front of the building. The taxi ride cost 5lev each (about 2.5Euros). The view from up there is difficult to describe, the vast hills, the melting snow, the flowers and distant towns. Also, Buzludzha is massive! You would think it is just this building on top of a hill but it feels as if someone dropped an apartment block in the middle of nowhere.
The weather was gorgeous so we walked from Buzludzha to the Shipka pass and passed the Shipka monument. The first is basically just a winding mountain road and the second is a massive monument with hundreds of steps in front of it. Seriously, i get it has a huge significance for Bulgarian freedom from the Ottoman Empire but building these things must have been such a pain in the butt. The walk was fairly pleasant and took about 3 hours through beautiful, fairly untouched forests high above the busy city life. While still in Kazanlak in the morning i asked the lady in the bus station to tell the driver to pick the 4 of us up on his way back (that is how things work here) and he hadn’t forgotten! For 2-3lev we were brought back safe and sound to Kazanlak bus station.
Overall, a must-see in Bulgaria! Take lots of water as i think it will get boiling hot even at that height in summer, some friends, some sturdy shoes and go explore. The Bulgarians might not recognize the touristic value of this place but don’t be put off by that :)
For some stunning before and after shots in higher quality check out this Kuriositas.com blog