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Temples and Churches
Home to the Patriarch of Bulgaria, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of Sofia’s top primary tourist attractions. It is one of the top 10 largest Eastern Orthodox church buildings in the world - only surpassed in size by the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral in Bucharest and the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia. The church is built in the style of a basilica and features a large central dome. The church has provided inspiration to many other churches in Bulgaria. Explore the city and see its influence spread.
St. Sophia Church
St. Sophia Church is the second oldest church in Sofia whose origins date back to the 4th Century where multiple Christian temples previously sat. The church was built on an old necropolis that existed in Serdika, the Roman town that stood in the area prior to Sofia. After the Christian church was built in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it went through many changes as the centuries passed. Tour and explore the church that is steeped in centuries of history.
Located in the Boyana Quarter on the outskirts of Sofia, the Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Church which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The church was built in three stages and thus has three areas with a beautiful display of frescoes and scenes ranging from the late 10th century to the mid-19th century when the latest section was completed. Walk through different eras of history located under a single roof.
The Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker
The Church of Saint Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, or the Russian Church as it is more commonly known, is located in central Sofia. It was built in 1907 on the site of a previous Saray Mosque which had been destroyed in 1882 after the Ottoman Empire was expelled from Bulgaria by the Russians. The church is well-known for its ability to grant wishes and thus earned the name ‘Miracle-Maker’. It has five golden domes and the bells were donated by Tsar Nicholas II during its construction.
St. George Rotunda
Built within the remains of the ancient town of Serdika, the St. George Rotunda has stood since the 4th century when the Romans constructed it. It is known for its frescoes dating back to the 12th century which were only recently discovered in the 20th century. This is because throughout the years, the church was temporarily used as a mosque and the frescoes were painted over. The St. George Rotunda is a beautiful example of medieval frescoes which exemplify the art that can be found within the churches of Sofia.
National History Museum
Founded in 1973, the National History Museum is Bulgaria’s largest museum. The location of the museum moved in 2000 to the former residence of the last Communist leader of Bulgaria in Boyana. The museum is known for its archaeological treasures and collection of fine arts through which visitors can explore the rich culture and history of Bulgaria through the years. The collection is vast and only 10% of it is permanently displayed.
Ivan Vazov National Theater
Opened in 1904, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre is located in the center of Sofia with a façade that faces the famous City Garden. One of the most beautiful and famous cultural structures in Sofia, the theatre was designed by famous Viennese architects Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner. It was named after Ivan Vazov whose play was the first performed. Indulge in a show and explore the culture of Bulgaria through the beautiful performances hosted on their national stage.
The National Assembly building is a monument of cultural significance for the Bulgarian community as this is where the National Assembly sits. The National Assembly, also known as the Bulgarian Parliament, was formed in 1879 under the Tarnovo Constitution and stands to this day as a unicameral parliament. The building can be seen on the back of the 20 leva banknotes which were produced from 1999 until 2007.
Open as of 2010, Serdika Center is a shopping mall located just 10 minutes from central Sofia by car. It is populated by more than 210 shops and has it all. Should you want to go on a shopping spree or are missing some essentials, Serdika is well equipped to handle all your needs. There is also an international food court for all tastes and preferences.
Paradise Center is the largest shopping mall in Bulgaria and most of Central and Eastern Europe. The center is split by four ‘zones’ in terms of interior design: boulevard, canyon, terrace and garden – each with their own concept and particularly unique style. The center holds over 300 stores, a cinema, an indoor ice rink and a theme park. Any need you have can be met here.
Named after the mountain bordering Sofia, Vitosha Boulevard is the main shopping street in the city. It stretches from St Nedelya Square to the Southern Park. Here you can find many luxury brands while passing some noteworthy buildings such as the National Palace of Culture, the Palace of the Courts. Explore the culture of Sofia while shopping.