Bulgaria’s capital is a city of grandiose gold and alabaster churches, as well as other magnificent historical architecture, iconography and green parks.
A true cross-roads city, Bulgaria
is where East meets West, where old and new collide, and where the remnants of old-style communism, with its romantic appeal, meets the heady buzz of a modern cosmopolitan.
However, it is the city’s religious iconography and architecture that immediately stands out. Sofia is home to the Alexander Nevski Cathedral
, a stellar example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. The church features a 45m high, gold-plated dome, distinctly recognizable from miles away.
Inside, you’ll find lavish decoration with Italian marble, alabaster, onyx, and gold. The church was built in dedication to the hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War. The church also features a museum with one of the largest collections of religious icons from all over the country.
Sofia has plenty of other churches worth visiting, including the Boyana Church – a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church with vast frescoes dating back to the 13th century.
As befitting a major European city, Sofia has an abundance of green areas and parks, including the vast Borisova Gradina Park
. It features two stadiums, tennis courts, cycling tracks, and leisure areas.
One of the more interesting aspects is the enormous Mound of Brotherhood monument in the eastern area of the park. Like many soviet monuments, this one certainly is not lacking in drama, featuring a 42m high obelisk, as well as dramatic statues of soldiers and workers dutifully advancing the cause.
Sofia is a football city, with several active clubs, including CSKA and Levski having a healthy fan following. If you’re in the city, enjoying a match, whether it’s at the stadium or in a crowded bar or café is a must.
However, keep in mind this odd quirk – Bulgarians usually nod left to right to mean yes, and up and down to mean no, so unless you’re planning on some heated football discussions, remember to switch your head movements around!