Communist Party Headquarters Buzludzha – Bulgaria Is So Hot Right Now
Good news! We’ve reached the sixth floor!” Apart from our motley crew of lamps that included an old Nokia cellphone screen, it was absolute darkness. It wasn’t really a staircase. That’s far too generous a term. More a collection of rusty steel ladders. Later, on our way back down, we timed the descent to the basement. It took twenty minutes, and it probably takes about double that time, to reach the roof of the tower component of perhaps the worlds most spectacular abandoned building – the former Bulgarian Communist Party Headquarters (and urbex Mecca) known as – Buzludzha.
Located atop Mount Buzludzha in the geographic heart of the nation of Bulgaria, I found myself with an unlikely team of experienced urban explorers. Our members were from three nations – Australia, Romania, and England. We had been planning our infiltration of Buzludzha via Facebook and email, and now it was actually happening. I had dreamed about this moment.
“How do you know what floor we’re on?” I shouted out to our Romanian leader, who was now a couple of floors ahead.
“There’s a six on the wall.”
“How many floors are there?”
“At least six.”
“Do you want the good news?”
“We’re not at the top yet.”
We were laughing like naughty high school kids. It was quite surreal – I know I’m a long way from home now, geographically, but considering I was with a group of people I had just met, being lead in the darkness upwards through the enormous abandoned communist meeting house, I was seemingly quite a long way from reality as well.
We continued on, up the ladders, and across the rusty landings, getting higher and higher. I’m not sure how many levels it was to the top – maybe 12 or 14. On the way, there were plenty of strange unidentifiable noises coming from the pitch black. Bangs, clangs, metallic pings, cracking sounds. Roll calls continued intermittently, as our team spread out over two or three floors at a time. We were all looking out for each other, and it just added to the surrealism to be hearing a Romanian accent calling out “Nate! Are you still with us?” every now and then.
Of course, we made it to the top of Buzludzha, and captured the spectacular view – the roof of a UFO shaped decaying concrete structure, surrounded by a pristine Bulgarian mountain-scape. I could describe the history of Buzludzha, and all of the various chambers we traversed within the grand structure. But I think in this case, the photos really do give a sense of just how ridiculously cool this place is.
I’m certainly not the first person to have visited Buzludzha. However, with the rapid amount of decay that has occurred -unfortunately -I may be among the last. It’s not exactly a “safe” environment inside, and it’s getting worse by the day. But apart from a few cuts, scrapes and bruises, our team had no incidents at all. Buzludzha looked after us all on this day.
When we finally exited the darkness through a hole in the concrete close to ground level (I was the last to leave), Phillipa was awaiting outside, getting to know our friendly team members. I noticed an enormous concrete “n” sitting on the ground. Just one of a collection of letters spelling out a message of communist propaganda on the walls at the now sealed entrance of Buzludzha.
“Phillipa – take a photo of me sitting on this “n”, it will be great to show the scale, and it’s my initial as well…”
My new Romanian friend overheard what I had said, and interrupted our moment with a serious tone.
“Nate, that’s not an “n”, in Cyrillic, that’s a “p”. Please respect our language Nate.”
I was unsure. “I didn’t think you used the Cyrillic alphabet in Romania?”
“No.. we don’t use that crazy alphabet.”
I like this guy.
click to see an interactive map showing the location of this article
Finally, I absolutely have to say – exploring abandoned communist party headquarters is not for everyone. It can be a dangerous hobby. Those of you on my Facebook page, have seen the photo I posted from the dark basement of Buzludzha – showing the shrine of remembrance to the two French urban explorers who tragically died inside Buzludzha.
These environments are dark, toxic, rusty, slimy, and dank.
Much like the front page of most travel blogs.
So, if you decide to jump on the Bulgaria bandwagon (and you should), and visit Buzludzha (you should), make sure you’re with a team of people that have experience in exploring abandoned spaces.
Sure, be adventurous.
But whatever you do, don’t go solo.
You just never know what might happen.
PS, for a little continuity – I have left Bulgaria, and travelled back to Serbia, and have just returned from having a dip in the Adriatic sea off the cost of Montenegro. The Balkans journey continues. I’ve been in this part of the world since late January, and I’m not leaving yet. The Balkans really is one of the most incredible travel destinations anywhere on Earth – and I feel totally at home here.
PPS, coming up – more incredible communist-era monuments of Bulgaria, a ride on Marshal Tito’s original Blue Train, and the stunning beauty of Montenegro.
48 thoughts on “Communist Party Headquarters Buzludzha – Bulgaria Is So Hot Right Now”
that is by far the coolest building i have ever seen. i have to see that in person one of these days. (i have an eerie softspot for abandoned buildings…strange as it may sound).
Hey Megan… I have an eerie soft-spot for abandoned buildings as well, so I don’t find that strange at all. You would be amazed how popular these sorts of spaces are – there’s a lot of fans out there. Hope all of your travels are going well.
that’s such an awesome place, I so would love to visit it as I’m a huge fan (well, that’s probably not the best word;)) of post Soviet monuments and architecture! Do you plan visiting Caucasus area? In Georgia, on Georgian Military Highway, there’s a monument in the middle of nowhere that was built to commemorate Soviet friendship. It looks like that: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-jOKU0QCEXzc/TqmaZjWt62I/AAAAAAAAaRY/m9Tm39t8BHI/s812/P1310686-1.JPG https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-TR7w-aYKioI/TqmbMqiIWPI/AAAAAAAAaUk/Nb_OMByYsPc/s812/P1310878-1.JPG https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-9NaLNpDKAqQ/TqmbW1843ZI/AAAAAAAAaVM/H2VWOY0kZH4/s812/P1310891-1.JPG
I’m sure you’d also love The Museum of Great Patriotic War in Kiev! That was one of the most surreal places I’ve ever visited!!
We’re both fans Kami – I think that is the right word! I’m planning on getting to the Caucasus area for sure, but nothing concrete yet – as you may have noticed, I’m a little bit “spur of the moment”. But thanks so much for the links and info, it looks really cool, even in that decayed state. I chatted to Larissa (Blonde Gypsy) about Kiev, and she agrees with you – I’ll have to put that on my list as well.
I think that might be the reason why I enjoy your blog so much, you cover places with amazing post-Soviet architecture that not many go to (and that I’m interested in big time!) You really should consider visiting Caucasus as soon as possible (I guess I’ve already suggested that a while ago;)) as the area is fastly changing and loses its charm. Especially Georgia is so European and American obsessed it kind of hurts.
I’m sure you’d love Kiev! Not only there’s this great Museum (with old Soviet war songs playing in the background!!) but the main street and the center are great examples of Soviet architecture plus there’re so many awesome and really impressive blocks of flats!!
Seems like I should be making plans for the Caucasus! Cheers Kami.
Awesome Nate, you’re hitting up all of these places I’ve been thinking about for years… except you’re actually doing them :)
Hope seeing your work helps get me out there sooner rather than later…
Cheers Dustin, go and get out there! If you need any info, feel free to ask. You never know, we may hit up something like this together one day…
Just a matter of time my friend. Paths tend to cross in the travel (blogging) world…
This building is stupendously awesome. Imagine what it must have looked like in its heyday, with all of the associated security and Bulgarian communist heavies inside.
No need to imagine… here’s a photo: http://i1163.photobucket.com/albums/q554/DarmonRichter/Urbex/Buzludzha/Buzludzha%20Classic/House-Monument-Bulgarian-Communist-Party-Buzludzha-Bulgaria-2.jpg
Excellent report, Nate! It was a truly surreal day, and I think you captured the mood beautifully here.
Until next time…
What an incredible photo, thanks for that Darmon. And, big thanks for all your help, had a great time hanging in Bulgaria with you. (for anyone else reading this, check out Darmon’s blog – amazing collection of urbex/dark tourism, and all things cool and abandoned.
Thanks for that Darmon. Very cool photo. I’d never seen your blog before. It’s all kinds of awesome.
Thanks for the kind words, Paul. ‘All kinds of awesome’ is definitely the theme I was aiming for.
It’s ridiculous isn’t it Paul? Certainly a highlight of my urbex life. Check out the photo Darmon linked to!
Wow that is a serious and amazing building. Great photos. It is a shame it is decaying, but fantastic that you have recorded it. Love your work. Always have. Always will.
Thanks Bec, you are too kind! It is a shame, take a look at Darmon’s link in the comments to see just how Buzludzha looked when new.
Make that “sight” not “site” in caption of pic 10….. you’re welcome.
PS This shiz is cookoo bananas!
Thanks mate…. apreciate the gramar corections.
I posted a picture of this building in my blog several months ago. I think I wrote that I wanted to see more of it some day. And here you are inside it. I had a feeling this is the place you were going.
Incredible pics, so grandiose. Words…err, pics can begin to describe…
You know me too well…. It really is an incredible structure, even in its decayed state.
Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve been blown away by something as different as this. I love Bulgaria and the Balkans in general, having spent lots of time there as communism fell in 89-94 including 6 months in Sofia in 91-92. I never knew about this place and would love to visit. Thanks for writing about it, your photos are so atmospheric.
good old commies! colossal!
Yo Joelz Santana – nice to hear from you mate… pretty damn crazy hey. Maybe it was my Mecca… we’ll see. Take care buddy, catch you sooner or later.
Funny thing is the Romanians were using that crazy alphabet until 1860 when they definitely switched to Latin script. :)
Good to know Daniel! That piece of information may come in handy when I next see my Romanian friends.
I have been watching this great series on Vimeo by Michael Bott on the megalithic sites in the british isles. I swear to god, this is the new stonehenge. The circle the menhirs… Crazy, to restore this would be an undertaking. It should be restored, not to fall into such decay. It seems alien, other worldly and deeply mysterious. Great shots.
I agree with your sentiments Laurence. I love the decayed buildings, and there is a definite character that the decay brings. Unfortunately the inevitable conclusion of this is that the buildings will eventually be lost. It’s understandable that people would not care about these buildings, what with their links to e bad times and dictatorships, but the are an important part of history, both socially and architecturally.
Frothing over this post Nate…
haha… wipe your screen, Ash…
Dude, you find the coolest things! You have to hand it to the communisits, they certainly knew how to make a statement with concrete. This one looks like it’s ready to take off to space. It’s just so so said that those beautiful mosaics are going to be lost. They are stunning. If you ever make it to Minnesota, I have a crazy sculpture garden to take you and Phillipa to.
It totally looks like a space ship! And yes, communism and concrete seems to go hand in hand…
This place definitely looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It does look quite unsafe but if one day I’m in Bulgaria (soon I hope), I will do my best not to miss visiting this place, before it’s too late. Really cool pictures Nate!
Thanks Bama – nice to hear from you again… if you ever do head to Bulgaria, feel free to ask me for any info about Buzludzha.
I surely will do, Nate! Now I can’t imagine myself visiting Bulgaria without going to this place.
Bulgaria is awesome, just got back from a couple of weeks there in Sveti Vlas! So cheap for beer and the food is sensational!!!
WOW! What a great set of shots! Thanks somuch!
You are most welcome Katie.
Is it still open? Can you still get there?
You can get there, but getting inside can sometime be difficult.
That is the most epic building I’ve seen! It’s just been added to the bucket list.
Without a doubt the strangest and most sinister structure I’ve seen. A combination between a flying saucer outside and a coagulated nightmare inside. The mosaics are a triumph of an infernal caricacture of Byzantine art. Absolutely ghastly.
Had to come and re-read this post, after watching the music video of Finnish band Haloo Helsinki! which was shot at this spot.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I2XMfGvHiQ Has some cool footage of area as well. Well worth watching it even though the song itself is in Finnish. BTW the band has said that they were told the place is going to be demolished in the next year or two. Sad if its so.
Wow, I had never heard of this place until a few minutes before deciding to Google it and stumbling on your story. I visited Bulgaria in 2013 and had no idea! I also got to visit Bosnia, Montenegro, Romania and Croatia over different trips and I agree with you that the Balkans are fascinating! I have to say that though Communism is nothing I feel romantic about, this place should be restored some (at least to prevent decay) as it is now part of history and worth preserving in my humble opinion!
It is a truly unbelievable place.
Great pictures here.
I actually wrote a song for this strangely amazing building in decay.
I recorded/filmed it inside the building, and the accoustic fits the theme…
Hi, NAT, all your blogs / pictures are excellent. Pls note:
ARCHITECT OF THIS БУЗЛУДЖА MARVEL IS GHEORGHI STOILOV. (Георги Стоилов)
For decades arch. Stoilov has been at the TOP – of Party Hierarchy as well as of the Association (“union”); before that Mayor of Sofia, etc.
When speaking of architecture FIRST comes the name of the Architect, no?
УкулелеБен = Ukulele Ben, your song and posting are great, I wish always VIDEO CLIPS to show architecture, rather than still photo-snap-shots.
Thx 4 your inspiration
Thank you Pepe. Also, please look at the website of my colleague, he is based in Bulgaria: http://www.monumentalism.net/
Impressive, indeed. Title a bit misleading, though: Darmon Richter is showing mostly Eastern, EastEuropean, ideological – communist – style Opuses (even some residential blocks?!?); many of them in Bulgaria (yes, I am the same Bulgarian architect in NYC of recent contacts!) while remarkable works remain to be included: “Venezia alla Partigiana” or, say, non-figural, non-grandioses such as the SHOES of the jewish people dumped in Danube on the banks of BudaPest