Description: In the middle of Bulgaria lies this abandoned relic of the communist era, situated on a mountain peak. Surrounded by history and natural beauty, visiting Buzludzha is a unique experience.
Details: We only walked 3-4km, but longer walks can be had if you choose to incorporate the historical Shipka monument and the surrounding hills too. Take a car and you will get to see a number of fantastic sights in one single day.
Difficulty: We parked and started with a hilly climb up to the monument. Due to its location, you will need to tackle hills unless you actually drive up to the monument. Weather will also play an important role in your day so check forecasts. We were fortunate to have gone on a sunny, hot day, but the monument is prone to fog and can be very snowy and cold in the winter months.
Buzludzha is approximately three hours from Sofia by car. Public transport to the monument is limited, so it is better to travel to either Kazanlak or Veliko Tarnovo and find local transport. Shipka is the nearest town to the monument.
By car, however, you can get there fairly easily by heading east from Sofia as far as Plovdiv, turning north at Trud, driving up to Banya, and then heading northeast and east to Dunavtsi and Shipka.
Shipka is worth exploring, mainly for its memorial church, which is quite pretty. There is a car park, which also has a couple of stalls selling souvenirs.
The church can be found here.
From Shipka, it’s time to drive up to the monument on the zigzagging hill (the 5005)!
The drive up on the 5005 was not only being used by humans; we had to overtake a bunch of horses too! Drive carefully…
At the junction at the top of the hill we turned left and found a car park soon after. Parking here offered both a great view up to the monument and also the start of a clear footpath.
The walk from the small car park is not particularly long, but does take you up in elevation by approximately 150-200 metres.
The monument itself is spectacular from every angle. I spent a long time trying to take the perfect photographs.
Walking a full 360 degrees around the monument, you will experience wonderful views across the Shipka Pass. You might even spot the Shipka monument over on a hill nearby.
You will also no doubt get to see a variety of graffiti, some of which took more time and effort than other pieces.
Buzludzha is not a tourist attraction. It is not maintained, there are no safety features and it is not very accessible. Abandoned in the early nineties, the insides are full of broken glass, debris, asbestos and unsteady footing.
If the entrance has not been boarded up, it will take a small amount of flexibility to get in.
The inside, however, is quite a spectacle. An authentic, Soviet-era gem. Crumbling mosaics, dust and darkness – it took our breath away.
After carefully climbing the stairs, the intended effect of the monument’s interior becomes clear. It’s an imposing, Soviet shell.
As a Rammstein fan, it instantly gave me the impression that it would suit a metal / industrial music video. I could actually find a music video filmed in Buzludzha during the winter. Riddles, by Kensington, shows the inside of the monument in all its snowy beauty.
Above the debris stands a series of mosaics and patterns on the walls.
The outer ring of the interior shows an even more sorry state: windows without glass, rusted steps and walls falling apart altogether.
It should be emphasised, however, that if you choose to enter Buzludzha, you should step carefully. There are holes in the floor, in winter months it will be coated in snow and ice, and some of the ground is soft.
However, I can’t think of many places I have visited that left such an impression on me. It is refreshing and exciting to step away from the typical tourist trap and see what time and history has left behind.