Communists are known for building some ugly structures. This is surely not the case for the party headquarters atop Buzludzha mountain. The world needs a whole lot more of these. That’s why we ventured way off the tourist trail into the forests of backwater Bulgaria, learned the Cyrillic alphabet, and dragged two toddlers up a 1500m peak.
We got dropped off in Shipka pass and after a three hour walk through the frigid morning mist we were rewarded but the first glimpses of the looming communist headquarters. As you approach, it is clear that you have left earth into some sort of sci-fi thriller. The actual site is completely abandoned, barred, pillaged, graffiti’d and left for dead. It’s important to walk around the entire structure making careful observation. After all, 6000 workers and 20 leading architects spent 7 years constructing this masterpiece, funded substantially by compulsory donations from Bulgarian citizens. More importantly, it is important to notice that there is still a small hole to squeeze yourself into the interior of the centre and that’s where the real magic begins.
After walking up stairs caked with rubble and fallen asbestos, you enter the main auditorium to be greeted by none other than Marx, Engels and Lenin. On the other side there are mosaics of Blagoev, Dimitrov, and Zhivkov (although the latter perhaps unloved has been scratched out). An incredible amount of other well preserved mosaic frescoes encircle the entire building, depicting scenes of Soviet and Bulgarian themes. The whole atmostphere is quite daunting as the leaking roof constantly creaks and flaps in the wind. After mustering a bit of courage, a walk around the outer shell rewards commanding views of the Balkan mountain range.