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Abandoned Communist Party Headquarters in Bulgaria

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Easily one of the most bizarre abandoned buildings in the world: an otherworldly “saucer” on Mount Buzludzha, Bulgaria

One site which definitely warrants inclusion into our Abandoned Places list is the otherworldly Communist Party Headquarters on Mount Buzludzha, Bulgaria.

Easily one of the most bizarre abandoned buildings in the world, this giant concrete saucer is just one of a long list of forgotten communist monuments that are scattered across Bulgaria:

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(all images credit: Darmon Richter for Dark Roasted Blend)

Like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie…

The Buzludzha monument – or to give the building its official name, the ‘House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party’ – was envisaged as a symbolic meeting place for the communist regime. Resembling something straight out of a 1950s sci-fi flick, the colossal concrete saucer perches at an altitude of 1441 metres above sea level – on one of the most inhospitable peaks of the Balkan Mountains.

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It was here that foreign dignitaries would meet with local communist leaders, beneath the tiled mosaic faces of Engels, Marx and Lenin. During its heyday Buzludzha was a centre for political rallies and award ceremonies, set in a remote location linked to one of the great turning points in Bulgarian history; just 18km from the peak of Mount Buzludzha, the Shipka Pass saw perhaps the bloodiest battle of the Russo-Turkish War.

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An iconic symbol, intended to mark Bulgaria out amongst the rest of the communist world… The House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party was completed in 1981, for the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Shipka Pass. The project cost in excess of 16 million Bulgarian Levs – that’s something in the region of 10 million US dollars, before you take inflation into account.

The funds for the project came in the form of voluntary donations from the Bulgarian people, and thousands of volunteer labourers worked on the site. While the communists were perhaps too liberal with their use of the word ‘volunteer’, there was nevertheless a lot of pride attached to the monument on Mount Buzludzha – and this iconic symbol was intended to mark Bulgaria out amongst the rest of the communist world.

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The tower of Buzludzha reaches a total height of 107m; the red Soviet star adorning its side measuring three times the diameter of the star emblazoned onto the tower of Moscow’s Kremlin. An eternal flame set into the front courtyard served as a tribute to fallen comrades, while great concrete letters were hung around the main entrance to spell out rousing verses:

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“ON YOUR FEET, DESPISED COMRADES!

ON YOUR FEET YOU SLAVES OF LABOUR!

DOWNTRODDEN AND HUMILIATED,

STAND UP AGAINST THE ENEMY!”

The words come from ‘The Internationale’: a revolutionary song from the nineteenth century, which gained great popularity amongst socialist, communist and leftist groups. Here though, the verses have been recorded in an old dialect of Bulgarian. As such, it seems to summon up a sense of the nation’s proud and independent past.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is the central meeting chamber

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A large auditorium was surrounded by tiered benches, its walls decked with intricate mosaic murals. It is said that over 60 artists were recruited for the task, detailing the likenesses of Engels, Marx and Lenin in addition to the leaders of Bulgarian communism; Georgi Dimitrov and Todor Zhivkov, as well as the socialist philosopher Dimitar Blagoev:

(all images credit: Darmon Richter)

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