My Journey to Bulgaria’s UFO
Yep, I did it. I went to visit Bulgaria’s UFO or other wise known as the Buzludzha Monument to Socialism. Everyone that I met in both Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo was talking about their visit to the UFO and how I had to take a day trip to the site. Luckily, one night the stars aligned and myself, a South Korean, and two Aussies convinced Alex ( a cool guy who works at the hostel) to drive us to the UFO the next morning. What we didn’t know was that Alex had taken hundreds if not thousands of travels to the UFO. He just hadn’t taken anyone in over a year. Our journey could not have been as amazing without Alex. He knew everything! The man is a walking live talking wikipedia!
Our day starting early on Friday morning. We left the hostel around 9:30 a.m. and headed towards the UFO. However, Alex had a full day planned for us. We had three stops on our trip. Our first stop would be the Dryanovo Monastery. Our second stop would be a small village called Etar. Finally, our last stop would be the much talked about UFO.
The Dryanovo Monastery or “Saint Archangel Michael Monastery” is located in the gorge of the Dryanovo River; which is located 24 km south of Veliko Tarnovo. The original monastery was built in the early 12th century and was located a few kilometers away from its current locations. Sadly, at the end of the 14th century, the Ottoman army burned the monastery to the ground. And yet again, at the end of the 18th century, the monastery was destroyed and burned by the Ottoman army. The current monastery was built during the early 20th century. There is no charge to enter the monastery, but you can buy some candles in the Holly Mother’s Assumption church.
We accessed the monastery via the Dryanovo River. The scenery is stunning and I spent several minutes taking pictures of my beautiful surrounding.
The grounds of the monastery are peaceful, quant, and charming. I really enjoyed my time at the monastery and was fascinated when Alex shared the history of the site and how it was rebuilt multiple times.
After the monastery, we walked on the bank of the river towards an ancient cave, where local archeologist have discovered ancient human bones and bones of a very large bear. The cave was very damp and cold. I had fun slipping and sliding all over the place. The cost of the cave was 6 Lev.
After spending time climbing through the cave, we made our way towards Etar. Etar, is an open air museum which is 50 km south of Veliko Tarnovo. The open air museum is designed to express Bulgaria’s crafts and customs. Many of the craftsman do not like to have photos taken inside their shops, but some were willing to allow us to take a few photos. I highly suggest you ask for permission before snapping away.
Etar has several craft shops that are run by water. I was amazed at how simple the building were constructed and how eclectic the open air museum was.
There is not charge for entering the houses, but be aware that there is an amazing candy store located in the center of the village. I had some amazing carmel and chocolate bars. In addition, there are a few restaurants you can find inexpensive but very good food and drinks.
The tension was building all day. Our group enjoyed seeing the monastery, the cave, and visiting Etar. However, we all knew the main purpose of our trip. We knew the main event was the UFO. We were only about 30 minutes from our main target. We ate lunch and headed towards the mountains. As soon as we left, the weather began to turn and dark clouds enveloped the mountain top where the UFO was located. We pressed on and arrived within 45 minutes.
So much has been written about the UFO that I am not going to babble on too much about this unique site. However, this is a former socialist (communist) location where rebels used to gather and plan the overthrow of the Ottomans. The Russians helped build this structure. The monument was completed in 1981 and by 1989, it was completely abandoned and ransacked by Gipsies.
Here is a video that should give you an idea of how the interior looks and how run down the building is.
The video below should give you an idea of how windy it was at the top of the mountain and how difficult it was to simply walk a few feet. Alex said that it was a mild windy day and that he has seen much worse.
The journey to the UFO was an enriching experience. I had a fantastic tour guide, very cool fellow travelers, and amazing scenery. What more could a travel photographer ask for? Well, beer of course!
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