Buzludzha and Shipka
Long day visiting. First stop was the Buzludzha monument.
On the remote Buzludzha Peak stands an unusual abandoned monument.
The peak itself was the site of a battle between the Bulgarians and the Turks in 1868. In 1891 a group of socialists lead by Dimitar Blagoev met on the peak to plan for Bulgaria’s socialist future.
To celebrate these events, the government in power during the height of Soviet influence decided to erect a monument commemorating socialist communism.
Work on the monument began in 1974, and was undertaken by units of the Bulgarian Army assisted by numerous artisans responsible for the large statues and murals. Large images of Lenin and Marx looked over the arena built for state functions and celebrations. Above it all blazed a red star-shaped window in honor of Soviet Russia.
After the government’s fall from power in 1989, the site was abandoned and left open to vandalism. The main entrance has been sealed and therefore closed to public.
A preservation team worked to get the monument listed as one of the seven most endangered heritage sites in Europe, and plans to preserve and restore the monuments are underway.
Moving on, we visited several Thracian tombs all under mounds along the roadside.
Next, The Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ better known as the Shipka Memorial Church or Shipka Monastery is a Bulgarian Orthodox church built near the town of Shipka in Stara Planina between 1885 and 1902 to Antoniy Tomishko's design in the seventeenth-century Russian style, under the direction of architect Alexander Pomerantsev. It is, together with the other parts of the Shipka Monument complex, dedicated to the Russian and Bulgarian soldiers that died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78.
The church's bell tower reaches a height of 53 m and its bells, the heaviest of which weighs 12 tons, were cast from the cartridges that were collected after the battles. In the temple itself, the names of the Russian regiments and Bulgarian volunteers are inscribed on 34 marble plates. The remains of the perished are laid in 17 stone sarcophagi in the church's crypt.
We then travelled up through the winding Shipka Pass to our overnight stop in the shadow of the Monument of Freedom.