Bulgaria

The Incredible Sofia in the Balkans

Located in Southeastern Europe is a small country called Bulgaria.  Sofia is the capital of this Balkan nation.  It has over 2,000 years of history, mountains, rivers, a rich heritage and ketchup chips!

Before I write about the gorgeous sites in Sofia, I have to gush over the fact that ketchup chips are there.  My understanding is ketchup chips are very much a Canadian thing and I was not expecting them in Bulgaria.  I may have looked like a lunatic when I spotted them in the store.

Where to begin?  There are so many things to see in Sofia and I enjoyed wandering through this incredible city.

One of the first things I saw was a piece of the Berlin Wall.  The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was historic and I clearly remember this event and Reagan and Gorbachev and the statement “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

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The National Palace of Culture opened in 1981 when Bulgaria celebrated 1300 years!  What?  Canada celebrated 155 years in 2022 and it’s amazing that Bulgaria is over 1300 years old.  This building is a multi-functional conference and exhibition centre.

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The Palace of Justice was built between 1929 and 1940.

St Nedelya Church dates back to the 10th century and has been reconstructed a couple times.  It is Eastern Orthodox.

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Walking down a cobblestone street is sheer joy (if you don’t have heels on) and I loved walking down this one between the National Library and Sofia University.

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Well hello again Cyril and Methodius!  The National Library is named after Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius ~ the Alphabet Saints!  They created the Glagolitic script which is the oldest Slavic alphabet.  It was replaced by the Cyrillic alpabet which was named after Cyril.  There are a lot of places named after them in Eastern Europe.

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Founded in 1888, Sofia University has 16 faculties.

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This Bulgarian Orthodox Cathedral was built from 1882-1912 to honour the Russian soldiers who died when Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.  The central dome has the Lord’s Prayer inscribed around it in gold letters.  I lit a few candles in here.

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The best part of travelling is the people you meet!  Gotta love chatting with the locals especially men in uniform AND riding a bike.

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The Ivan Vazov National Theatre was founded in 1904 and the main stage has 750 seats.  I love, love, love the burgandy colour!

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The City Garden was created in 1872 and today many people gather to relax, play chess or listen to the music.

The Bronze House symbolizes the good cultural partnership between Bulgaria and Austria and is located in the City Garden.

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The Banya Bashi Mosque is the only open mosque remaining in Sofia.  Built in 1566, it is built over thermal spas.

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The Serdika Metro Station was built in 2000 and during construction these ancient ruins were discovered.  It is the remains of Serdika, a Roman city.  There are streets, houses, baths and a latrine that you can walk through.

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The Regional History Museum of Sofia sits on top of thermal spas.  Interesting displays and a relaxing park setting.

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The National Art Gallery contains over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art and the building used to be the royal palace.  Does the yellow remind you of primroses too?

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The Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Maker is Russian Orthodox and was consecrated in 1914.  The bells were provided by Tzar Nicholas II.

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Kvadrat 500 is the newest and largest building of the National Gallery for Foreign Art.  It opened in 2015 and displays 1700 pieces of art by Bulgarian and foreign artists.

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Hagia Sophia Church is the 2nd oldest in Bulgaria dating back to the 4th-6th centuries.  It started to rain and I caught the tail end of a wedding.

The Presidential Building ~ I missed the changing of the guard.  There was a lot of security in this area.

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The National Archaeological Museum opened in 1905 and has 5 halls.  There are displays outside of Roman ruins.

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Built in 1954, the Monument to the Soviet Army portrays a Soviet Army soldier as a freedom fighter, surrounded by a Bulgarian woman holding her baby and a Bulgarian man.  It was a rainy, cloudy day and I didn’t get great pictures.  The monument is in a big park where a lot of people were hanging out.

Vitosha Boulevard is the main street in Sofia!

Offering Bulgarian and European cuisine, Corso was fabulous!

When the rain is pouring, a glass of Bulgarian Red in Vinovino was perfect!

Wandering around Sofia …

And let’s wrap up Sofia with a chai tea latte and ketchup chips!


Happy Travels!

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