Places of Interest in Sofia

Alexander Nevski Memorial Church was completed in 1912 in honour of the Russian casualties of the 1877-8 War of Liberation from Ottoman rule. This gold-domed cathedral is the finest piece of architecture on the Balkans. Craftsmen and artists from six countries worked on the five-aisle church for 30 years and created masterpieces of icons, frescoes, murals and huge chandeliers. Italian marble was used for the interior decoration, and Egyptian alabaster, Brazilian onyx, gold and mosaic embody the spirit of the finest eastern Orthodox traditions. There is a superb collection of icons in the crypt.

The Rotunda of St George is a 4th-century brick building in the courtyard behind the Sheraton Hotel, which is adorned with finely preserved early medieval frescoes. There are also the remains of a 2nd-century street and other Byzantine ruins. St Sofia Church, a 4th-6th-century basilica finished during the reign of Justinian, has survived intact with 1,600-year-old mosaics.

sheraton sofia

The church of St Nedelya (opposite the Sheraton Hotel) was built in medieval times and known as the Church of the Blessed Sveti Krai. The current building was reconstructed after 1925 when it was almost completely destroyed by a bomb explosion in an attempt to assassinate King Boris II. The biggest congress centre in the Balkans is also in Sofia -the National Palace of Culture. It is located in the centre of the city and faces the Vitosha mountain.

The Vassil Levski monument was built to honour Vassil Levski, the principal architect of the campaign to free Bulgaria from the oppression of the Turkish Empire. lt marks the spot where he was hanged by the Turks in 1873.

Dragalevtsi Monastery at the foot of Vitosha mountain was founded during the reign of King Ivan Alexander in the 14th century. Some of the frescoes date back to the 15th century. The St Nikolai Russian Church, built in 1912 by Russian workmen, preserves the style of Moscow decorative arts, painting and architecture. The high dome is surrounded by four smaller domes. The roof of the church and the area above the door are covered with green majolica tiles, which harmonise perfectly with the gold-plated domes. The external decoration of the Russian church is a joy to behold with its exquisite and rich colours. The frescoes were painted in the style of the Novgorod icon school.

The Banya Bashi Mosque is a typical monument of Homan architecture, which adds colour to Sofia city centre. It was built in 1576 by a famous Turkish architect who also built the Sultan Selim mosque in the town of Edrine in Turkey. Loudspeakers on the tall minaret call worshippers to prayer.

The Sofia Synagogue was designed by the architect Grunanger in 1910; it has recently been refurbished and is well worth visiting. The building is in Spanish-Moorish style, with a onion-shaped dome, which is lit by the biggest chandelier in the Balkans.

The Ivan Vazov National Theatre in the city park is a model of Baroque architecture. Along the facade of this majestic building are six columns with beautiful capitals, which support a large triangular pediment, decorated with mythological high reliefs. To the sides two towers rise up, topped by sculptures of the goddess Nike. A suburb at the foot of Vitosha mountain is not able for the Boyana Church, built in the ninth century. The frescoes in the church are claimed to be among the oldest and most interesting examples of east European medieval art. Like Rila Monastery, Boyana Church has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

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