It looks like a broken-down UFO, but the Buzludzha Monument stands as an abandoned concrete reminder of Bulgaria’s Communist Party past.

In the midst of the Balkan Mountains sits an otherworldly architectural display that, in its glory days, stood for the strength and might of the once all-powerful Communist Party. Perched atop Mount Buzludzha you’ll find the Buzludzha Monument, at the time of its unveiling an impressive tribute to the socialist beginnings of Bulgaria dating back to 1891. 

Construction started on what would eventually become the House of the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1974, finally reaching completion seven years later in 1981. An estimated 6000 people, including units of the Bulgarian Army, worked to bring architect Georgi Stoilov’s vision to reality.

By 1989 and after the fall of communism across Eastern Europe the building became an unaffordable burden to the region and was left to rot in the mountainside elements. The copper roof would have been impressive to see in the Monument’s glory years but now only the framework remains, offering almost no protection for the fading portraits below it of past communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

Vandals and graffiti artists have both decimated and visually transformed the Monument into a real-life apocalyptic wasteland that would not be out of place in a video game, all while the communist party emblem of the hammer and sickle looms overhead.

Outside the building a concrete tower adorned with a red star that in the communist era could be seen as far away as Greece and Romania still stands in place, but today the star is shattered by bullets and broken by scavengers who believed communist propaganda of the time that it was not made of glass but ruby.

Today there has been discussion of reclaiming the Buzludzha Monument as a museum in an effort to acknowledge and learn from Bulgaria’s dark communist past, or the extreme opposite of turning it into a casino to attract Westerners and their tourist dollars. For now the Buzludzha Monument remains in limbo: too expensive to tear down, too costly to do anything with.

Story by Jay Moon