Notes On Buzludzha

Buzludzha is an old communist building once of immense wealth and still of unusual beauty. It is now a decaying ruin that has been left to human scavengers and savage elements. A road start from where the small towns of Bulgaria are and winds all the way to where zealous men shout down at them. All the way to the top of Mount Buzludzha. The building stands like a beacon for tourists on a bare mountain top. In the past, at night, a light inside the tower would to shine the red soviet star across the land.

We go through the small opening and with torches out begin our tour. The walls of most of the building are a brilliant white marble. Small pieces of marble, chipped off the walls, lie on the ground. Even now they maintain their perfect smooth surface. The ceiling, once red velvet, has mostly peeled off now. Our guide pulls out a soviet red toilet brush from where he hides it between tours. He jokes and says it’s the most photographed toilet brush ever. We oblige.

Soviet Red Toilet Brush

The wall fell and the Soviet brand of socialist lost power in Bulgaria. The new government didn’t want to maintain a building that cost seven million euros to build. They let it go and a rapid rush of scavenging occurred. Anything that wasn’t nailed down was stolen. Anything nailed down had the nails removed and was then subsequently stolen. Finally, the nails were then stolen. After that initial wave of destruction the building has remained still and quiet. The only recent human dismantling is wanton, by bored youths and souvenir-hungry tourists.

The natural destruction is slower. The structure fills up with water during spring and summer. Over winter the water freezes and expands. The cheap bricks used to fill the walls are crumbling. You can flick a brick and see an avalanche of red come from the wall. These crumbling walls are not the load bearing ones. The load though increasing though. One day the water will become too much for the concrete bulk and it’ll collapse. A sad end to what was once a truly beautiful building.

The seven million used to build it was mostly taken from the Bulgarian people and, to a degree the pillaging is the returning of some of that seven million to the people. In the first case the powerful benefited and in the second case, the fastest and nearest did.

Neither is really fair for Bulgaria. Had it been maintained it could be a magnificent museum pulling the tourist dollars.


when: Friday, July 25, 2014