La Alhambra de Granada Spain
La Alhambra Palace has a fascinating history and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Spain.
Shipka is a sleepy little mountain village in central Bulgaria nestled between the two historic towns of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo. Shipka was a very important area in the fight for the Liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and is best known for its proximity to the "UFO Building" or Buzludzha Monument (more about that later).
If you prefer to see for yourself then go ahead and watch my Shipka & Buzludzha Monument video now.
There's not much happening in Shipka town or village itself, but there are a few things in the area worth exploring. Below are three places I visited near Shipka on my road trip through Bulgaria.
As you approach Shipka from the south, or drive around Shipka, you'll see tucked against the mountains the gleaming golden domes of this amazing church built in the Muscovite style. The Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ, better known as Shipka Monastery or Shipka Memorial Church, is a Bulgarian Orthodox church and forms part of the Shipka Monument, which is dedicated to the soldiers that died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War.
The Shipka Monument is situated at the top of Shipka Pass at Stoletov Peak. The full name of this monument which is monument to the soldiers that died during fight for the Liberation of Bulgaria is the "Shipka Monument of the Liberty" or Shipka Liberty Monument for short.
The Shipka monument is easily reached by car when en route to the Buzludza Monument or when travelling between Shipka and Veliko Tarnova, and parking is provided right at the bottom of the steps leading up to the monument.
You can find a video of my journey from Shipka to Veliko Tarnova over the Shipka Pass showing more views from the top of the pass and of the Shipka Monument below.
About a 30 minute drive from Shipka village up the twisty Buzludzha Pass is an amazing soviet-era conference centre known as the Buzludzha Monument and nicknamed the UFO Building . The building has been decaying for years now but it must have been quite amazing when it was first built.
You're not allowed inside the UFO building, primarily because it's too dangerous, it is literally falling apart. This monument is one of the many things that you'll find in Bulgaria that is a reminder of both the Soviet era when Bulgaria was part of the Eastern Bloc and of the socialist past of Bulgaria. It is one of the best known communist monuments in Europe.
Even if you are not interested in seeing the UFO building, the 360 views from the top of this hill worth the trip, they are quite amazing. When I visited they were building wind farms nearby and I can see why because it was really windy up at the top of the hill!
So this would be a good time to give you a travel tip: don't forget to bring a jacket! It is much cooler at the top of the hill had Buzludzha than in the village of Shipka! For example on the day I visited it was 28 degrees centigrade in Shipka and only 17 degrees at the top of the hill, it was distinctly chilly in shorts and T-shirt!
A road trip through Bulgaria allows you to see some of the amazing Bulgarian countryside, and this was how I chose to travel through Bulgaria. I hired a car and drove myself, I chose to overnight in Shipka to break my journey between the 2 historical cities of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo and to increase my chances of getting some good weather for the views from the pass.
If you are relying on public transport however, then Shipka is easily reachable as a day trip from either Veliko Tarnovo or Plovdiv. You can easily book day trips to Shipka and/or the Buzludzha Monument from Veliko Tarnovo, if you want to add in a visit to the Memorial Church then you may need to book a private tour.
Most people stay in either Plovdiv or Veliko Tarnovo, but there is at least one place I found to stay - at Shipka Hotel.
Shipka Hotel is a beautiful place to stay, it has a little restaurant and it is peaceful and quiet, or at least it was when I was there. So quiet in fact I had to go looking for someone to check me in to the hotel.
The video at the top of this blog includes a tour of Shipka Hotel and the room I stayed in which had a veranda and a beautiful view over some of the hills and mountains of Bulgaria which overlook Shipka.
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