Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Sofia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most important monuments in Sofia and in all of Bulgaria. It is an Orthodox church, built in the Neo-Byzantine style between 1882 and 1912. The building occupies an area of ​​3170 square meters, and with its 45 m high that exceeds 50 m considering the bell tower is the largest church in the city and the second on the entire Balkan peninsula.

    The Cathedral is named after Prince Alexander Nevsky and was erected to commemorate the death of 200,000 Russian soldiers who died in the 1877-78 conflict between Russia and Turkey, when Bulgaria gained independence. During the First World War, when Russia and Bulgaria found themselves on opposite sides, the cathedral changed its name and was entitled after Cyril and Methodius in 1916, returning to its original name in 1920.

The church is a cross-domed basilica and is characterized by beautiful dome and half domes, the bell tower at the top of the facade, and arched doors and windows. The gold-plated central dome is 45 meters high and the bell tower has 12 bells. Inside, huge round arches stand out, supporting the central dome and the half domes around it.

The decoration includes Italian marbles in various colors, Brazilian onyx, alabaster and other luxury materials that cover the lower part of the walls and form a wonderfull polychrome checkered floor. The upper parts of the walls are embellished with paintings and frescoes, many depict Bulgarian and Russian saints. The grandiose central pulpit and the mosaic of Tsar Ferdinand together with his wife Queen Eleonor dominate the space. The crypt houses one of the largest collections of icons in Europe, sacred images dating back to the fifteenth century, come from all over the country.

The cathedral is one of the most important and famous monuments of the country, its majesty and its interior atmosphere, gloomy and cavernous (contrary to the exterior) and its fantastic decorations, give visitors not only a cultural experience but also emotional and personal. It is definitely an unmissable destination in Sofia.

Boyana Church - Sofia

In the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, in the bosom of Mount Vitosha, in the middle of the first natural park in the Balkans, in the shadows of huge sequoia, is huddled the little Boyana church. The most legendary temple of Bulgaria.
Boyana Church “St. Nicholas and St. Pantaleimon” is a medieval Bulgarian church, dating back to the 10th century AD. One of the few totally preserved medieval monuments that have come to our day. In 1979 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under No. 42.

Boyana church belongs to the type of two-storey church-tombs. In its construction, three building stages could be distinguished.
The first (eastern) part of the church is a small, one-apse, cross-dome building with built-in props that form the inscribed cross. It was built at the end of the 10th – the beginning of the 11th century.
The second part of the church was built in the middle of the 13th century with donations from Sevastokrator Kaloyan and his wife Desislava. Sevastokrator Kaloyan is the feudal ruler of Sredets from the 13th century, perceived as one of the most prominent patrons of pre-renaissance Bulgaria. The lower floor was designated as the tomb of the donors, and the upper one was a family chapel. The last part of the monument, built with donations from the local population, dates back to the middle of the 19th century.
But it’s world’s glory Boyana Church owes not to architecture but to the frescoes from 1259 – 89 scenes with over 240 images using a new free unique technique of expression – proof that the spirit of the Early Renaissance was already in its heyday in Bulgaria two centuries before the Italian Renaissance began.

When the anonymous master painters in the distant 1259 completed the drawings in the family chapel of the donors, they did not even imagine that in the aftermath the world would comment on how they had overtaken the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance with over a century.

The mystery of the “Boyan master”, or who created the fine frescoes of the Temple, created in 1259, has remained unresolved a whole millennium. In the Middle Ages, when churches are being built and painted in Bulgaria, the canons of Eastern Orthodoxy do not allow the name of the iconographer to be mentioned. It was thought that not the talent, but God moves his hand for creating images of biblical scenes.
During the restoration of the temple in 2008, inscriptions were revealed, which allowed the researchers to come to the conclusion that the church was probably painted by three iconographers who had acquired their mastery in the workshops of the Turnovo painting school.

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Mural paintings feature outstanding artistic virtues, perfect performance techniques, psychological depth, complexity and realism. They do not observe the dryness and asceticism, characteristic for the works of this historical period. The painting of the Boyan master has life. Every man or saint is depicted with his own radiance and emotions, emphasized by the expression of the eyes and gestures.

The four expressive portraits of Tsar Konstantin Assen Tih and Queen Irina, as well as the Sevastokrator Kaloyan and his wife Desislava, are among the oldest preserved portraits of historical faces. Researchers are categorical that the ktitors Kaloyan and Desislava are painted in kind. Most impressive is the way the faces and eyes are painted. The soft, distracted light without a specific source, the incredible psychology and realism of the images are characteristic.

A patron on the lower floor of the temple is St. Nicholas, known as the patron saint of sailors, merchants and bankers. In the narthex (the second part of the church) 18 scenes depict the life of St. Nicholas. In them, the artist includes elements of the life of his contemporaries. Some of Saint Nicholas’ painted miracles are believed to be the only ones in the world. This is the miracle of St. Nicholas with the carpets, the miracle when he saves three women from the fornication and the miracle when he saves sailors from shipwreck.

Far-out  is the stage of “The Last Supper”, in which are depicted elements of the then Bulgarian lifestyle – white cloths with black stripes on the lap of the apostles, and on the table there are garlic, onion and turnip.

These distinctive features and all the inscriptions on the frescoes from 1259, which are in medieval Bulgarian language, prove in an indisputable way that the authors of these masterpieces are Bulgarian iconographers. The craft of their masterful hand is defined as the most valuable Bulgarian contribution to medieval art.

Regional history Museum - Sofia

The Museum of Sofia was established in 1928 and in the first 25 years of its existence it combines the activities of a museum, an urban library, an archive and an art gallery. For a long time the museum does not have a suitable building for its exposure. On December 1, 1941, at the “Banski” Square, the first permanent exhibition of the museum was opened. During the World War II bombing, the building was destroyed. Finally in 1998 it was decided to be located in the building of the former Central Mineral Bath of Sofia. The construction of a modern mineral bath in the city center began in 1906. It was opened for visits on May 1, 1913. Author of the designer project was the Austrian architect Friedrich Grünanger and the work was done by his Bulgarian colleague Petko Momchilov. The building is built in the so-called national-romantic style and is among the most representative buildings in Sofia. In 1986, the Central Mineral Bath was closed for visits due to wearing out of the installation. At the beginning of the new century began a massive program for restoration and adaptation of the bath building for the needs of a museum. On September 17, 2015, the permanent exhibition of the History Museum of Sofia was officially opened in part of the building and became a regional one. It is located in eight halls on two levels. The chronological range is from the Neolithic era – VI th century BC until the middle of the 20th century. The emphasis is on the period after Sofia was chosen as the capital of Bulgaria in 1879.

National History Museum - Sofia

The National History Museum of Sofia is the largest museum in the country, and one of the largest in all the Balkans, it houses more than 700,000 artifacts from different eras (only 10% of these are exhibited) and the oldest of them are dating back to 8000 years ago!

The Museum was established on May 5, 1973, and the first exhibition was made in 1984 in the building of the Court of Justice for 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian state. Since the year 2000, the Museum has changed its location to an imposing government building in the Boyana district, just outside the city of Sofia, where it is still today.

The new building is a remarkable example of Soviet-style architecture, its rough and massive appearance and the large exhibition halls anticipate the importance of the treasures kept inside. The collections cover a lot of time periods, different for each hall of the museum, and the archaeological finds come from all over the country.

The museum exhibition is divided into five halls: Prehistory, Ancient Thrace, First (VII-XI century) and Second Bulgarian Empire (XII-XIV century), Bulgarian lands in the XV-XIX century, and Third Bulgarian Empire (1878 to today). The collection, dedicated to Prehistory (VII-II millennium BC) presents various bone and flint tools, statues of idols, ornaments and ceramics. The museum holds treasures from the Thracian era that are unique in the world!

The medieval hall includes objects from the age of the First and Second Bulgarian Empire: jewels, coins, ceramics, icons, reliquaries, etc. Another room tells the story of the Bulgarian lands during the Ottoman rule and its liberation. The last room houses the most recent finds belonging to the modern Bulgarian state. A further exhibition hall is finally dedicated to a great collection of ancient coins.

The National History Museum is definitely a mustsee monument of Bulgaria, allows to know part of the history of the country, and the Thracian era funerary items are absolutely amazing. A visit with a guide is recommended as each hall deserves a particular study.

Church of St. Sofia

For Bulgaria and our capital, this temple is much more than a landmark, it is a symbol of our spiritual history and a witness of the events that took place over more than 1500 years in the center of Sofia. Baptized on God’s wisdom, the basilica survives despite the turmoil of time and today is one of the most popular temples among the people of Sofia. In the 14th century, the city was named after it and from 1900 it became one of the symbols of the city state emblem. At the end of the 16th century, the temple was rebuilt into a mosque. Several decades after the Liberation of Bulgaria, however, a targeted policy for its recovery began. In 1930, the basilica was re-illuminated, and in 1955 it was declared a monument of culture in the category of “national significance”. The location of the basilica “St. Sophia” is not accidental, many graves and tombs were built here before it, and later several more temples were built, the last one of which is the Basilica of “St. Sophia”. Every next temple is larger than the previous one, but the place of the altar from antiquity to this day remains the same. As a more attractive exhibit, there is a tomb with an additional reconstructed narthex from the east, as well as a frescoed tomb from the end of the 3rd to the beginning of the 4th century, should be noted. Along with the grave facilities at the museum level, the grounds of the first churches also can be seen – the first one had several construction periods related to its expansion and the placement of a polychrome mosaic on its floor. It probably functioned until the Gothic invasions of 376-382. The next church – a three-nave basilica with an apse in the east wall (“Syrian” type) is an extension of the central transept of the first church, with a side transept added by both sides. It’s build can be associated with imperator Theodosius I (379-395), and its destruction probably happened at the very end of the 4th century. The third church is again three-nave, with a narthex in the eastern wall of the apse, but is much larger and higher than the previous two temples. It was built at the end of the 4th – beginning of the 5th century and its end is connected with the great Hunan invasion from the middle of the 5th century. At the end of the 5th – the beginning of the 6th century, the next temple was built in its place – today’s still functioning basilica “St. Sophia”. In front of the north-western corner of the Basilica, another tomb with frescoes is accessible for visitors since 2014, which was first registered in 1989 and finally finalized in 2002 – the tomb of Honorius. At present it is the only one in Bulgaria with the name of the particular person for whom it is intended. The tomb is vaulted, and on its four walls are depicted a total of 6 Latin crosses, surrounded by plant motifs. Above the main composition is a Latin inscription, which reads: Honorius, slave of Christ, Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

0 артефакта от различни епохи (само 10 от тях са изложени), като най-старите датират от преди 8000 години!

   Музеят е открит на 5 май 1973 г., а първата изложба е направена през 1984 г. в сградата на Съда по случай 1300-годишнина на Българската държава. През 2000-та година, музеят променя местоположението си във внушителна правителствена сграда в кв. Бояна, непосредствено до град София, където се намира и до днес.

   Новата сграда е забележителен пример за архитектура в съветски стил, грубият и масивен външен вид и големите изложбени зали, олицетворяват  важността на съкровищата, съхранявани вътре. Колекциите обхващат много периоди от време, различни за всяка зала на музея, а археологическите находки идват от цялата страна. 

   Музейната експозиция е разделена на пет зали: Праистория, Древна Тракия, Първа (VII-XI век) и Втора (XII-XIV век) Българска империя, Българските земи през XV-XIX век и Трета Българска империя (от 1878г. до днес). Колекцията посветена на праисторията (VII-II хил.пр.Хр.) представя различни костни и кремъчни инструменти, статуи на идоли, орнаменти и керамика. Музеят съхранява съкровища от Тракийската епоха, които са уникални за света! 

   Средновековната зала включва предмети от епохата на Първото и Второто Българско царство: скъпоценности, монети, керамика, икони, мощи и др. Средновековната зала включва предмети от епохата на Първото и Второто българско царство: скъпоценности, монети, керамика, икони, мощи и др. Друго помещение разказва историята на българските земи по време на османското владичество и тяхното освобождение. Последната стая съдържа най-новите находки, принадлежащи на съвременната българска държава. Още една изложбена зала най-накрая е посветена на голяма колекция от древни монети.

   Националният исторически музей определено е паметник на България, който трябва да се види. Той позволява да се опознае част от историята на страната, а погребалните предмети от тракийската епоха са абсолютно невероятни. Препоръчва се посещение с водач, тъй като всяка зала  заслужава специално проучване