The Buzludzha (Buzludja) Monument is an abandoned building on top of a hill in the Central Stara Planina, Bulgaria. It was built in 1981 by the Bulgarian Communist Party to commemorate the creation of its fore-runner, the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, but has been left unmaintained ever since communism fell in Bulgaria in 1989. Today, the Buzludzha Monument finds itself in a desolate condition and the entrance has been sealed with iron doors and bars –  however, visitors still can enter the complex at their own risk.

So why did I go to Buzludzha (Buzludja)? Well, I’m going to be very honest here: my travel motivation for Buzludzha (Buzludja) wasn’t its history, but primarily its architecture, the challenge of getting into a closed monument, the overall Bulgarian region and most importantly, the frailness of this massive ‘fortress’. The strength and power that Buzludzha emanates is strongly contrasted by its fragile, devastated interior. The torn open roof, the crumbling mosaic art and the debris inside the building are clear indications of Buzludzha’s unstable condition. Due to the lack of urgently required funding for renovations, it is likely that the frail Buzludzha Auditorium will collapse sometime in the next decades. So if you want to visit one of the most impressive legacies of the Bulgarian Socialist/Communist era, I recommend to plan your trip before they seal up the Buzludzha Monument for good.

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One does not simply enter Buzludzha (Buzludja)…

I can hardly recall the moment I first walked into the Buzludzha Auditorium as I was so pumped with excitement, adrenalin and awe. Friedrich, my co-traveler, and I repeatedly mumbled an uncontrolled mix of words like “watch your step …”, “oh my god …”, “awesome …”, “be quiet, man …” while not actually listening to each other, but rather shining into every corner with our flashlights – making sure that nobody (or nothing…) else was there. We walked carefully into the center of the Buzludzha Auditorium, right beneath the giant symbol with the hammer and the sickle, literally taking a photo with every step we made. Believe me, I’ve seen a couple of cool things so far, but hardly anything compares to Buzludzha’s Great Auditorium with Marx’s, Engels’ and Lenin’s faces glowing at us in the red morning sun. That’s when I knew that I found what I came for and I felt welcomed in Buzludzha (Buzludja).

But let’s first take a few steps back, since Buzludzha is far more than only the Buzludzha Auditorium. You’ll know what I mean once you stand at the foot of the hill, catching your first glimpse of the aloofness of Buzludzha’s secrets. As with all beauties, they only play hard to get at first, but actually can’t wait to get captured. And you will have your chance to get acquainted – once you’ve successfully climbed up the hill. In the winter morning of February 1 2014 at 6.30 a.m. (about -11 to -14 °C), the skies were still clear and red against the valley of the Central Stara Planina, which increasingly disappeared in the fog. Catch your breath, go ahead and marvel at this bulwark with its massive, steep foundation – you can safely circulate the entire areal of the Buzludzha Monument. Observe the front building with its sleek features which nicely melt together towards the end into a stark, solitary tower – boasting with a red star at the top, like a single piece of jewelery. (OK fine, I might have drifted away a bit in this paragraph, but seriously: Buzludzha is a prominent example of communist architecture (designed by Guéorguy Stoilov), which constitutes an exercise of power with its striking tower prominently emerging behind the flying saucer-like auditorium.)

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So yes, Buzludzha’s architecture is impressive, but how to get in? It almost seems impossible as the main gate is heavily sealed and enforced with metal bars. Luckily, there was a small opening around the right corner of Buzludzha’s entrance, as somebody must have broken the glass to get in before. You could get in by pulling yourself through the hole in the wall, ending up in the stair case of the building. Within a few seconds of doubt and weighing risks against opportunities, we were both standing inside the Buzludzha Auditorium. (Download: Map of Buzludzha (PDF)) (Important Update – 07 March 2016: the small opening in the wall has been sealed and is not an option anymore. Updated photos are provided further down. However, the main entrance has been broken up again. Nonetheless, note that there seems to be an increased effort to lock out unwelcome visitors. After all, the building is falling apart.)

Our first photos and selfies in the Buzludzha Auditorium were still made with the clear glare of the morning sun, but within a few minutes, the fog from the outside creeped up on us and quickly occupied the entire building. The wind increased and we repeatedly looked at the ceiling, which filled the entire room with life. The creaking, shrieking, clacking and all other ‘-ings’ of the loose parts on the ceiling constantly reminded us to tread lightly and to keep our voice low – who knows what our echo could unleash. I’m far from being a structural engineer, but I was very aware that the Buzludzha Monument has not been inspected for a while for its statics and the extra weight of snow on the roof wasn’t helping either. The reception of our mobile phones was alright, but if anything should have happened, it would have taken many hours until decent help could have arrived. Staying smart was definitely our top priority in Buzludzha (Buzludja).

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We took a few more photos of the deteriorating mosaic art on the walls and left the Buzludzha Auditorium to what you could describe as the ‘Outer Ring’. By that time, the fog got so intense, we could not even see ten meters far. We were staring into pure grey. It was a bit scary, since we realized that if we had had arrived an hour later, we would never have managed to find the Buzludzha Monument. Wandering in the deep snow would have been too exhausting for us to ‘scout’ the area by pure luck – and we couldn’t have seen it from the far. We felt a bit trapped, but at the same time also more safe – it was very unlikely that someone else would make its way through the heavy fog. And Buzludzha Monument is definitely one of those places where you aren’t too keen on bumping into a stranger.

We passed through the Buzludzha Auditorium and walked all the way down the stairs to the ground floor. Unlike the light-filled top floor, the ground floor of the Buzludzha Monument is mostly protected from the wind and the sun – with all advantages and disadvantages. And yes, this is where the eerie part begins. You should bring a flashlight, otherwise you’ll miss all the trash, asbestos, debris and booze bottles lying around inside of Buzludzha. But if you want to reach the tower from the inside, I don’t think there is another way. You can either pass through the very very dark back room with plenty of holes in the ground to embark on your climb to the top of the Buzludzha Tower, or continue into the abandoned depths of Buzludzha. We did not climb up the tower, however, as we were fairly intimidated by the rundown corridors, pipes and walls. Plus, the fog didn’t promise us a great view, anyway. And most importantly: we generously left that part open to explore and document for others, like you! Thanks ahead for that.

How to travel to Buzludzha Monument (Buzludja)?

We arrived at Sofia Airport on a Friday afternoon and immediately rented our 4WD Land Rover. After a 240-kilometers drive to Kazanluk (nearest city to Buzludzha, approximately a 30-minute ride), we spent the night there and got up at 5.30 a.m. to drive up the Shipka Pass. In the summer, you can easily drive up almost all the way to the top of Buzludzha by taking a side road from the Shipka Pass (you will not pass by the town of Shipka). You will recognize the road to Buzludzha by a large statue, shortly after passing by Kran. During winter months, it is highly advised to have a 4WD and/or snow chains as the road is not maintained. On our way back we actually passed a car that had too little grip and got stuck, so either really do get a decent ride or hike it (approximately three hours, one way). Be prepared for cold weather and possibly impaired sight due to strong fog. You will be able to drive up the 12 km road until you can see the Buzludzha Monument. However, you’ll reach a point where the roads are covered with too much snow, so we parked our car and continued on foot. The snow was at least 40 cm high and it was fairly steep in some parts, so it cost us a decent amount of energy and about 20 minutes to reach Buzludzha Monument. You should definitely be well prepared for Buzludzha, especially during the winter months.

Recommended preparation for Buzludzha

  • Map of the Buzludzha Monument – I have prepared a strongly simplified map of the Buzludzha Monument for your information. It is not very accurate regarding proportions or architectural design, but it will help you to navigate the building efficiently. Feel free to download and print the PDF here:
Buzludzha Map

Map as PDF

  • Flashlight – many parts on the inside of Buzludzha are dark. A flashlight is imperative, should you decide to access the underground levels or tower.
  • Decent shoes – climbing into Buzludzha is fairly manageable. However, due to the high amount of debris and trash within the building, I recommend to wear boots or robust shoes.
  • Gloves – if you decide to travel to Buzludzha in the winter months, I strongly recommend to wear snow gloves. You will most likely have to path your way through snow.
  • Snacks and drinks – there is no possibility to buy anything in Buzludzha.

For questions or feedback regarding the Buzludzha Monument, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Important update on the situation of the Buzludzha Monument (07 March 2016)

Readers have informed me that the small opening on the right hand side of Buzludzha’s entrance has been sealed. However, the main entrance has been forced open again. Also, the building (especially the roof) has strongly deteriorated. Please be aware of the increased risk when considering a visit inside of the Buzludzha Monument. Thanks to Andrei B. for sharing this information and his photos:

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About the author Valentin Rüst rotate

I founded Don't Complain Travel in 2010 with the goal to experience, document and share travel adventures from all over the world. From Zurich, Switzerland.

48 Comments

  • We were there in 2012, around June/July. They must have welded the front doors closed, as we were able to get in by pulling the front gate open. From more than 12 months on the road, this is one of the top 5 highlights.

    We did climb up the ladders to the roof, the sun shines through the red star and fills the top with a glowing pinkish light. It’s quite intimidating though, as full of birds (which we thought were bats), it’s completely dark and by the time you climb to the top you are pretty exhausted. It is an intimidating enough place to be in, that just makes it more intense.

    • Yeah, I can imagine how intimidating it had to be. As far as I know, someone actually “cleaned up” the site a bit, even inside (debris and stuff). I went February 2014, so it must have been even more abandoned in June/July 2012. You’re a true pioneer, Jackson!

  • I was just there earlier today and the hole you described getting in through is still there. That is how we entered as the front gates were welded shut.
    We ventured everywhere, including into the wet, fly-laden basement that led to the ladders up the tower. We climbed the tower’s 320 rungs to get to the top. We went all the way to the roof. There was a thunderstorm brewing up there and our hair stood on end from the static electricity in the air. It was quite an exhausting but rewarding adventure.

  • We went there a couple of weeks back. The hole in the side remains to get in. We also climbed the tower and got right outside on to the scaffold on the roof. Great advice above on what to bring. Walking boots were invaluable as well as head lamps. Also brought heavy ‘gardening’ gloves! It’s an astonishing place that is literally falling apart in front of your eyes. Kind of surreal seeing a large group of horses hanging about outside when we drove up to the site. Really not going to last forever, so get there if you can sooner than later.

    • Awesome! Didn’t see any horses when I went (winter), but yes, the entire region itself is very beautiful. And I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed your trip to Buzludzha as well – great to hear the gloves helped! 🙂

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this information on travelling here as I have been dreaming about seeing this place with my own eyes.
    Keep up the great travels.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Elle! I can totally relate to your dream – I had it once, too! 🙂 Let me know if you need any more information about Buzludzha, I’ll gladly help you.

  • Funny, I was there just two weeks after you, and the snow on top of the mountain was already gone. I had hoped for similar weather, with frozen roof structure, but we had an amazing fog which produced very decent pictures. We stayed two full days inside, just because the atmosphere was so special. One of the best places I’ve seen, for sure! Great pictures! 🙂

  • Great website! I am planning to visit in mid November. Do you have any idea if there will be snow there during this time? Also, if you can share any maps with me, I would be very appreciative.
    Thanks,
    Matthew

    • Thanks, Matthew! I’m quite sure that there is no snow this time of year, as the temperature is still clearly above freezing point. And you can find a map as PDF in my last section of this article “Recommended preparation for Buzludzha”.

  • Great site with major further upside potential , I am glad to have found it !. My wife and I will be in Sofia for a few days late October and thought about renting a car and making a day trip to Buzludzha. the visitors from the posts I read usually stay in nearby cities like Kazanluk or Shipka and visit the site from there, but as we have a prepaid accomodation in Sofia for our whole stay, we would prefer to do the trip from the capital, if it s not too exhausting. Anybody who experienced visiting the site from Sofia and can also possibly furnish us with recommended schedule/directions is very much welcome. My other worry (snow) is I guess not an issue, at least based on Valentin’s last entry, which also leads my to believe that a normal economy class small car could suit our needs (?).

    • Thanks, Tamas, I’m very glad to hear you like the site. Completely agree with the upside potential – working on it! 🙂

      Regarding your question: I also traveled from Sofia. You could theoretically do it in a single day, just leave very early. One way should take you roughly 4 hours, including 1-2 breaks for gas or food (I’d recommend the highway). Here’s the route I took on the way back: http://goo.gl/HYBneh Getting back from there is fairly easy, so I wouldn’t worry about driving back in the late hours. The highway is in good condition.

      At the end of October, I wouldn’t expect any heavy snow yet. So economy car should do fine. However, if it does snow heavily, you’ll probably have a hard time. When driving back with my 4WD, I did pass a car that had no more grip in the snow and got stuck. I would consider a short-term upgrade, in case of heavy snow.

  • Hi Valentin,

    These are some really great photos and a great description of your exploration of the Buzludzha. I’m the founder of Sagacity Magazine, and we’ll be doing a feature on abandoned Soviet sites for our February, 2015 issue. If you’d be up for talking to us, please email me at brett@sagmag.com.

    You can check out Sagacity at sagmag.com.

    Hope to hear from you.

    -Brett

  • Thank you for an inspiring guide to visiting Buzludzha. I was there on October 12th, and my biggest surprise was that a lot of other people were there as well. Going on a Sunday in the middle of the day is maybe not the best time if you want the place to yourself.

    However, if you are a little worried about crawling into the monument, I can assure you that it seemed a totally common thing to do.

    Here is my short blog about my trip. It is in Norwegian, but Google Translate may give you an idea. And the pictures may be the most interesting thing anyway: http://mellem.cc/tur-til-buzludzha/

    • Thanks, Magne! I checked your photos and was very surprised to find the floor in the great auditorium so clean! Someone seemed to put in some effort to somewhat maintain the building. And also, someone added a new slogan to the entrance. It used to say “Don’t Forget Your Past”, then it was completely removed and now it says “Never Forget Your Past”.

  • Great article, and really good images. It looks amazing in the winter, and I like that you included the video of the auditorium covered in snow. Your visit sounds like a great adventure.

    Your site is excellent: great images and well written. I like the article on Lake Natron too.

    I recently visited Buzludzha and have a gallery and article here: http://www.shuttersafari.com/buzludzha-exploring-the-ruins-of-communism/

  • Hi!

    These photos are amazing!
    I planned to travel Buzludzha in this year but nobody want to come with me 🙁

    • I wouldn’t worry about it! It’s easily done alone in a day. Also, chances are, that you’ll meet other explorers there anyway. Buzludzha has gained a lot of attention in the last year, so go for it anyway! You won’t regret it.

  • Hi!!
    I am impressed with your trip, you inspire me to go Buzludzha. I will go there in coming Easter holidays, i worry how i could get a van /taxi to drive me there…I will live in shipka

    • Hey Rita, great idea! The town of Shipka is very near and there shouldn’t be any snow at this time of year, so I’m sure you’ll have no difficulties finding a taxi. Everybody knows Buzludzha at Shipka! Enjoy your adventure!

      • No snow in March? Definitely not great advice there. Not only is there most likely to be snow in most of Bulgaria at that time of year, but in the mountains it’s pretty much guaranteed. There can be snow in Shipka from November – April, and at Buzludzha from late October – May. I was at Buzludzha in late April and there was snow on the ground and inside the building.

        • Thanks for correcting, Paul! I really appreciate the info!
          However, I would expect that there’s a lot less snow in April and therefore easier to access than from Dec to Feb.

  • What an impressive site! A fantastic read and stunning photographs! I have always wanted to visit and explore inside such a powerful place, and after this read I will be planning my trip there this year! I will also be exploring the rest of your amazing site. I’ve heard many stories about the drive from Sofia, can I ask, What was it like and roughly how long did it take? Im possibly planning a return same day trip ( in September ) depending on travel plans. Thanks in Advance!

    • Thanks for the compliment, really thrilled to hear you like the site!
      Regarding the drive to Buzludzha: I drove to Kazanlak first from Sofia. You can either take the country road or the highway to get there. The highway is longer, but faster in total. Both roads are easy to drive and in good condition, so don’t worry about that at all. Considering the good conditions, the durations you get on Google Maps or so are very representative!

  • Hello,

    Thank you for sharing all with us. This looks very interesting .Some belgian journalists also entered last year , 2014.
    Anyone an idea whether it is still possible to enter .I would like to go next week and have arranged a guide from sofia .
    Greetings Bart , Belgium , april 2015

  • Hi Valentin,

    After having discovered this amazing place lasy year, I’m finally decided to go there next winter for a photographic trip.
    According to you, what would be the best month to get a dramatic winter atmosphere (Snow/Fog…)?

    Thanks, and congrats for your amazing website.

    Greetings from France

    • Hi Ben, congrats on your decision to visit Buzludzha! I went there in the beginning of February and it was in deep snow – fairly exhausting to reach, as you cannot drive up all the way and will have to fight through the snow all the way to the top. Regarding the fog: I arrived there at around 7 AM and it was clear, and only one hour later, you couldn’t see 5 meters into the distance. You’ll just have to try your luck! Do drop a link here, once you got to photograph Buzludzha! Bonne chance.

  • Great publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  • Do you think I can rent a car to there from air port even though I am Japanese and have international driver lisence. And how much did you cost to rent the car when you rented 4wd? Is there other ways to get there??

    • Hi Kasei, I’m sure you can rent a 4WD from the airport – I did. There are all international car rental companies, so you can easily check online how much it will cost you. And yes, there are other ways: you could probably take a bus to Kazanluk and find a taxi from there. However, it might be more difficult to find a taxi that can take you to the top if there is a lot of snow in the winter, so make sure to plan enough time to find a driver. がんばって!

  • Thanks for this guide! I’m visiting Sofia in late March and am contemplating making a day trip out to Buzludzha. When it comes to making the drive, will snow be an issue at that time of year?

    • Hi Ryan, in general, I would expect snow in March along the Shipka Pass, although less than in the winter. My best advice is to check the weather in the area and see if it has been snowing and cold, or rather warm already like in many European cities this summer. Hope it helps and enjoy the adventure!

  • Hi Valentin, where did you stay in Kazanlak? Do you remember the name of the hostel/hotel? I’m planning on going this weekend. Also do you have any information on bus schedule from Sofia? Thanks!

    • Hi Carmen, I stayed at Hotel Diamond as they had parking spots right across the street. It was a nice hotel. I unfortunately don’t know the bus schedule as I rented a 4WD for this trip. I wish you best of success and a great adventure this weekend!

  • Hi, thank you for your wonderful post 🙂
    I’m doing Erasmus in Veliko Tarnovo with a friend and we are thinking about going there on friday.
    But there are some people saying that is completely locked and that we can’t enter there.
    We have been searching about it (actually it was how we found your post) but we still have some doubts. Maybe you are more inside the subject and can help us??
    Thanks!
    Catarina

    • Hey Catarina, I don’t know about it being locked. The main gates were heavily sealed, but I find it hard to believe that they locked up the hole in the wall right of the entrance. I’d take the risk – it’s also impressive from the outside. Best of luck!

      • Hi Valentin,
        First of all thank you for the article, using the info you provided it was really easy to find and access the place.

        Some updates if I may (07.03.2016)
        The entrance from the right side is closed now. Some metal grill is installed. (I can send you pictures for more details). Luckily we found an opening in the main entrance (pictures if needed). The place is decaying fast. Parts of the roof are missing now if we are about to compare to your photos.

        Off topic: Please let me know if you have something planned or any interesting information that you are willing to share regarding Cambodja.

        • Hi Andrei,

          Thank you so much for your update.
          May I have a copy of your photos (of both the grilled hole and the new opening you found)?
          My email acount is paintery@gmail.com

          Also, I plan to travel there in April.
          Is it easy to find a taxi outside the Kazanlak train station?
          How much does a round trip (train station-Buzludzha) normally cost?
          How long does it approximately take to complete the round trip (say I were to spend 1 hour inside Buzludzha)?

          Sorry for this many questions…

        • Hi Andrei,
          I would appreciate the pics on where to get in now please as we are going in 3 weeks.
          jord67@gmail.com
          Thank you.

          A brilliant blog by the way

        • Hi all, thanks for your comments, truly appreciate them! I’ve updated the post with new photos that Andrei generously shared with us. Take a look- and be more careful; Buzludzha today is apparently in a visibly worse condition than on my photos.

  • Hi Buddy,

    Thank you for all the info. I will be trying to stay in Kazanlak. I have no rental and looking for ways to go up to the building. Any suggestions? Walk the whole way? Taxi? Rent a car? Bus to shipka then walk?

    Thanks man 🙂

    • Hi Anthony, thanks for your comment. Of course, you could walk from Shipka or Kazanlak, but I think it’s too far. Best way would definitely to take a taxi (especially is in the months without snow) or rent a car, if preferred. Hope you enjoy your visit!

  • Great post and photos. Buzludzha is my favorite place in Bulgaria and I am so happy to see that you had a lot of fun there. :))))

  • Hi Valentin,

    I have some more updates from my visit at Buzludzha from (22.06.16)

    Since the last update from (7.05.16), the front (gated) entrance has been locked again by the authorities, it looks as it they have used some heavy duty steel bars to lock the gates together and prevent any kind of access. The side entrance remains covered with the metal grill again preventing access via this route aswell.

    New entrance (22.06.16)

    I can confirm from my visit that a third entrance is now available which allowed me to get inside Buzludzha. The new entrance is on the right hand side of the building, past the side entrance and towards the tower. You will notice (at groundlevel) that someone has pulled away one of the metal pieces for an old airduct revealing a new access point into the building. The entrance was very small, had some sharp metal edges and you will have to crawl through it carefully. However, after passing though this, you will enter a small side room. To exit the side room, you have to pass through another hole which leads to the corridor linking the main building to the tower. This hole was very high up but fortunately someone had placed some wooden beams inside so that you could climb up and pass through it relatively easily.

    I can provide pictures of the new entrance and inside the side room if anyone wants them

    Hope this helps!

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