29.6.15

How To Get To Buzludzha

The old communist building at Buzludzha captured the imagination of people around the world after being featured in several lists of cool abandoned buildings.

I went there the other day and I encountered things that I felt the need to share publicly.

It takes approximately 3+ hours to drive there from either end of Bulgaria and the drive itself is an adventure in a league of its own.

A few quick things to note before getting to Buzludzha (read this even if you decide to skip the rest)
  1. You need to get to Gabrovo first.
  2.  If someone flashes their lights at you, then traffic police must be nearby. This is what they call "citizen solidarity against authority" and it dates back to early communist times.
  3.  If you see a truck in the incoming traffic, then slow down and move to the right. Chances are, there are at least 5 small cars riding up the truck's ass willing to risk their lives and yours just to get somewhere a few minutes earlier and there are only 2 lanes for traffic in both directions.
  4. There is a paved road up to the very top of Buzludzha.
You can keep going all the way up to the monument
(after a short stop at the Sweet Selfie Spot of course)
Bulgarian drivers are comparable to drivers in the rest of the world in that they also use the highway to measure their penises but the Varna-Sofia highway that you will need to be on is not like most other highways.

According to an old Bulgarian tradition, there aren't too many signs on the highway because too many signs spoil the joy of not knowing where you are going so a GPS is needed if you actually want to get somewhere.




Once you get to Gabrovo it is really hard to miss the road to Buzludzha but reaching Gabrovo in a sound state of mind after 3+ hours of avoiding collisions with other vehicles determined to ride your ass until they can pass you only so they can be in front of you while decrypting the few highway signs you can catch with the corner of your eyeball, is an accomplishment you should be proud of.

The black hole sign is an unobtrusive way to
remind drivers that they are entering a twilight zone
 where an extra passing lane was built but only on paper

Google maps makes it seem like it is hard to get all the way up to Buzludzha by car. Contrary to Google Maps' beliefs, the route has no private roads.

Nevertheless, many people abandon their cars at the first available parking location, which is right around here:



Before this point there is barely enough space for two regular European cars to pass one another on the winding mountain road. In other words, don't go there with a Hummer because you and/or someone else will not make it.

There is a paved road in fairly good condition right up to the very top of the hill where the most equal communists used to gather every year to celebrate equality and to discuss important topics such as how to be more equal than the rest.


Once you are at the top of the hill the main thing you have to watch out for is falling slabs of concrete.




Another thing to watch out for is horse shit. Humans may have abandoned this place but semi wild horses have not.

Find some time to unglue yourself from the digital screen and the selfie stick to marvel at the nature that surrounds you.



This is the Balkan. It just does't get any more Balkan-y than this.


Don't steal any letters from the front of the monument. Not cool. Totally not cool.


If you must add graffiti, make tasteful ones. Nobody cares that you were here. Lots of people managed to come here before you and luckily most of them didn't feel the ardent desire to notify you of their existence.

Watch out for falling concrete slabs. No seriously. Watch out for falling concrete slabs. There's nobody to sue if you get injured. Literally nobody.

There is one "entrance" on the right side of the building if you are willing to risk your life for a few pictures. If you're a daredevil, then go there with someone who cares about you enough to nag at you.

I held my husband's foot so he couldn't go any further than this:
nobody got hurt in the end
Don't brag to other Bulgarians about going to Buzludzha. Bulgaria is at least 1400 years old. And that's just the Bulgaria of which there is a written record. People's Republic of Bulgaria, on the other hand, existed for only ~50 years. If you are planning to brag about it to other Bulgarians, then you better visit all other cool historical places. The area around Buzludzha is jam packed with historical monuments, cultural landmarks, and stuff from all Bulgarian Empires.

Like for example Etara, which showcases and celebrates the old Bulgarian way of life, the traditional arts and crafts, and the people who made them.

Below is an old Bulgarian house to the left and the equivalent of a Bulgarian garden gnome, the garden dragon, to the right.



Etara is actually on the way back to wherever you came from to get to Buzludzha.

Around 60km away from Etara is an ancient Bulgarian fortress called Tsarevets built in the 1100s during the Second Bulgarian Empire. The modern city surrounding the fortress, namely Veliko Tarnovo, is home to some of the nicest people in Bulgaria.