A Blast from the Past: Buzludja with Mavic Pro

History taught us so much about the eloquence of events and their consequences and it is essential to learn from our mistakes so as to avoid future failures. To be more specific, historic monuments and buildings should be preserved even if they are a symbol of disgrace for the local population because of their cultural heritage. The Buzludja monument located in the Balkans in Bulgaria is a prime example of this. For those of you who have never heard of it, Buzludja is the largest ideological state-built communist monument in Bulgaria throughout the Communist regime. Its shape resembles a flying saucer and looks like the perfect place for a villain’s headquarters from the James Bond series, inside you will discover socialist slogans and beautiful mosaics most of which are still intact.

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However, this absolute architectural masterpiece is no longer state managed and the current cabinet and the Bulgarian Socialist party cannot reach an agreement on who is to be responsible for the ownership and maintenance of the monument. As a result, the building is currently abandoned and fallen into decay due to the extreme weather conditions of the mountain range in the winter, as well as being vandalised due to its lack of security.

Some of you may already reflect on the reason why this building is considered offensive by a huge percentage of the Bulgarian population. Well… communism, as you may know, failed in many countries throughout the world, especially in Eastern Europe, with only a few being exceptions, communist ideology on paper has very good points but in reality it is inconsistent and not a viable option for state development in the same way capitalism is. Communism is merely a utopia. Many people in the country associate the regime with negative experiences, including myself, even if I experienced it in an indirect manner. I was born 1990, therefore I have been raised in a post-communist transition period when there were severe shortages of basic products such as soap and sugar, to name a few.

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By now you may think that I am against the reconstruction of the Buzludja monument as a result of past events but, the fact is that this is an excellent opportunity to preserve culture and history for next generations. When was the last time you have seen a building with such a distinctive design located on top of a mountain range nearly 5000 feet above sea level? In addition, it is an excellent opportunity to be refurbished and attract more tourists, which reminds me that I’ve met people from Russia, France and Poland who were interested to explore the remains of the impressive structure alongside its interesting history. Hopefully, it will be restored to its full glory one day…

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Trying to get access is highly dangerous and I do NOT recommend it. The first time I visited Buzludja in December 2016, with a group friends, road closures, heavy snow and strong winds were part of the adventure. We had to park the car down the road as severe weather conditions prevented us from reaching the monument’s car park. As soon as we had the building in sight, we realised the sheer size of the structure and we were instantly amazed by its flamboyant design. Upon entering, you get that eerie feeling that you are in the past and in the future simultaneously. This effect was a direct result of the dilapidating slogans and mosaics in an unnoticeable contrast with the graffiti on the walls and the overall state of the edifice and its futuristic UFO exterior. Unfortunately, I was still waiting for my pre-ordered Mavic Pro to be delivered and was not able to take any aerial shots. Therefore, I was determined to go back in the summer of 2017 and take some photos before the building will be taken over entirely by Mother Nature.

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On my second trip to Buzludja, the entrance to the top was sealed by a thick metal door and it was impossible to get the aerial shot I have always wanted to capture, but I managed to take a few shots above and on the side of the structure. The aerial photo featured in this blog was taken with my Mavic Pro from the South West side of the monument and edited with Lightroom only. The rest of the photos from both trips have been taken with a mirrorless camera and a mobile phone, edited with Lightroom and/or VSCO/Instagram.

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Thanks for reading, 

The Aerial Motion Pictures Team 

Ella ShepardComment