City Centre of Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia is the largest city. Founded thousands of years ago, today the city continues to develop as the country’s cultural and economic center. At present, the city has a population of 1,250,000.

City Center of Sofia: State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (former Communist Party House), National Art Gallery, Presidential Palace, Ivan Vaxov National Theater. (Photos are from the Sofia Tourism Association)

Sofia is located in the western part of the country, on the Sofia Plain and on the lower slopes of Mount Vitosha. The city’s average altitude is 550 meters above sea level, the climate is moderate and continental, characterized by cold winters and relatively cool summers.

Sofia City Centre Map

After the breakfast we are going out to the city centre of Sofia. We are walking to the Banya Bashi Mosque first.

The mosque is seen beyond the tramcar.

The construction of Banya Bashi Mosque was completed in 1566, during the years the Ottomans had control of the city. The phrase of Banya Bashi means many baths, it was built over natural thermal spas; you can even see the steam rising from vents in the ground near the mosque walls. The phrase of Banya Bashi means many baths, it was built over natural thermal spas; you can even see the steam rising from vents in the ground near the mosque walls. The mosque is famous for its large dome, diameter 15m.

Banya Bashi Mosque Sofia

Since don’t have much time, we don’t enter the mosque and are going to a famous statue of Holy Sophia.

The Statue of Saint Sophia comes into view.

The statue, erected in 2000, stands in a spot once occupied by a statue of Leinin. Made from the copper and bronze, the statue of Saint Sophia is adorned with the symbols of power (crown), fame (wreath) and wisdom (owl). It’s 24 feet in height, stands on a 48 feet high pedestal, located in the city centre on the street, Todor Alexandrov Boulevard.

Monumental Sculpture of Saint Sofia standing on a Column

From the statue of Saint Sofia, we are walking the street of Todor Alexandrov Boulevard to the former Communist Party House Sofia.

Todor Aleksandrov Boulevard (the new business district of Sofia)

The boulevard is named after the Bulgarian revolutionary, Todor Aleksandrov. Todor Alexandrov is one of the main boulevards in Sofia. It starts at the city center, goes west at the direction of Lyulin districts, and this is one of the biggest residential areas, called “city within the city”.

On the way to the former Communist Party House, a semibasement old church is on the roadside.

Church of St. Petka of the Saddlers

St. Petka Chuech is a small one-naved building partially dug into the ground located in the very centre of both the modern and the antique city, in the subway station.

Church of St. Petka and its Interior

Actually this quaint church was built in the 14th century during Ottoman rule which explains why it is below the ground level and very simple in its exterior.

Arrived in front of the former Communist Party House Bulgaria

The former Communist Party House is now used by the National Assembly of Bulgaria. Today the building is mainly used as Government offices and the splendid Sofia Hall is occasionally used for charity concerts. The light-coloured neo-classical edifice lies at the end of the Independence Square (Largo in Bulgarian).

There is the oldest building in Sofia near here, “let’s go there.”

The orthodox church of St. George Rotunda

The Church of St. George is an Early Christian red brick rotunda, built by the Romans in the 4th century. It is situated behind the government buildings, amid remains of the ancient town of Serdica (Sofia’s old name). It is a cylindrical domed structure built on a square base.

Entrance of the St. George Church Sofia

Templon (Iconostasis) of the Orthodox Church

The Dome of St. George Rotunda, (Christ – Pantocrator, Ruler of the Universe)

Byzantine mural, Early and Second Bulgarian periods in the Rotunda

Roman Street to the Palace of Constantine the Great

After the St. George Rotunda, we are walking through the aisle in the behind building and going to the Atanas Burov Square.

Atanas Burov Square Sofia

Atanas Burov Square is located between the buildings of the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria and National Archaeological Museum and. The square was named after the prominent banker and politician Atenas Burov.

Presidential Palace is on the Atanas Burov Square.

Handsome guards marching

Took a pictura together

Walking 300 meaters to the east from the Plesidential Palace, the National Art Gallery appears.

The National Art Gallery Sofia

The National Art Gallery houses over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art. It is located on Prince Alexander of Battenberg Square, occupying most of the historic and imposing edifice of the former royal palace of Bulgaria, having been established in 1934 and moved to the palace in 1946, after the abolition of the monarchy.

Works of the Art Gallery

The exposition of orthodox arts is presented in the crypt of the monumental temple “St. Alexander Nevski” in Sofia. The collection of works of art covers a large period of time – from the adoption of Christianity as an official religion in the Roman Empire in the 4th century to the Age of Bulgarian Revival (18th – 19th century).

My favorite works

From the National Art Gallery, we are walking through the City Garden of Sofia to the Ivan Vazov National Theatre.

City Garden of Sofia : It is the central public garden, in existence since 1872.

The City Garden is located between Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, Knyaz Alexander Battenberg Street and Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko Street, in the historical centre of the city.

Walking through the City Garden of Sofia

A nice fountain in the City Garden.

Ivan Vazov National Theatre is the oldest and most authoritative theatre in the country and one of the important landmarks of Sofia. It is located in the centre of the city, with the facade facing the City Garden.

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the view from the city garden.

Founded in 1904, the theatre was named after the prominent Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov. Ivan Minchov Vazov (June 27, 1850 – September 22, 1921) was a Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright, often referred to as “the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature”.

Bulgarian National Theater “Ivan Vazov”

After the National Theater we are going to the Russian church. It takes five minutes.

The Russian church comes into view.

Russian Churgh in Sofia, built in 1914

The Russian Church (Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker) is a Russian Orthodox church in central Sofia, situated on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard.

Facade and entrance of the Russian church

The church was built on the site of the Saray Mosque, which was destroyed in 1882, after the liberation of Bulgaria by Russia from the Ottoman Empire.

Interior of the Russian church

From the Russian church, walking to the east 300m along the street of Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, you will arrive at the monument to the Tsar Liberator.

Monument to the Tsar Liberator

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator is an equestrian monument in the centre of Sofia. It was erected in honor of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

Russian Emperor Alexander II

Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia from 1855 until his assassination on 1881. Alexander’s most significant reform as Emperor was emancipation of Russia’s serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator.

Pedestal of the monument

From the monuments of Tsar Liberator you can see the famous  cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in south. “Let’s go to there.”

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Sofia

Built in Neo-Byzantine style, the cathedral is the Patriarch of Bulgaria and it is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions.

Iconostasis of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built between 1904 and 1912. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colors, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials.

Interior of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince. The cathedral was created in honor to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

Saint Alexander Nevsky Icon

Saint Sofia Church is next to the huge cathedral of Alexander Nevsky. It arrive in about 3minutes.

Monument to the Unkown Warrior in front of the Saint Sofia Church; a local father is taking his daughter’s picters.

The Saint Sofia Church is the second oldest church in Sofia, dating to the 4th-6th century. In the 14th century, the church gave its name to the city, previously known as Serdica.

Saint Sofia Church, Bulgaria

The church was built on the site of several earlier churches from 4th c. and places of worship dating back to the days when it was the necropolis of the Roman town of Serdica.

Interior of Saint Sofia Church

The Saint Sofia Church is now one of the most valuable pieces of Early Christian architecture in Southeastern Europe.

Iconostasis of Saint Sofia Church

Ivan Vazov’s Grave is in the churchyard of Saint Sofia.

Lion sculpture and me in front of the Saint Sofia Church. Bulgarian seem to like lions.

It is time to go to the reserved hotel. Tired, so I am taking a short break, have a shower and have dinner and go to the bed soon. “See you!”

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