Saturday, February 16, 2008



"THE NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE - You probably wouldn't believe this is an Opera House, but it actually is! Situated on the corner of Rakovski Street and Dondukov Boulevard (difficult to catch without a wide angle) it has ten columns lined up along the main facade. The foyers, balconies and large hall are stunning! The theatre was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt after the war"

"SS. CYRIL & METHODIUS NATIONAL LIBRARY was founded on 4 April 1878. Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs, were two brothers born in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively. In 863, when the Moravians wanted someone who could conduct Divine service in the Slavonic language, Cyril and Methodius were chosen for the job. Cyril invented an alphabet and, with the help of Methodius, translated the Gospels and the necessary liturgical books into Slavonic. That was the origin of the Cyrillic alphabet"

"THE SOFIA UNIVERSITY was founded on 1 October 1888. The building was constructed between 1924 and 1934. The University has 14,000 students, a university library, a university press, a computer centre, a sports centre as well as other structures"

"PARLIAMENT - The building was constructed in three stages from 1884 to 1928. A motto inscribed on its main facade reads «Union makes strength»"

"PARLIAMENT SQUARE - From left to right: the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the Parliament and the Monument to the Tsar Liberator, commemorating Alexander II's decisive role in the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78"

"EMBASSIES - Some of Sofia's most beautiful historic houses are occupied by foreign embassies. The Austria and Italian embassies are just two examples"

"THE CENTRAL MILITARY CLUB is a multi-purpose culture building located on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard. The foundation stone was laid in 1895 and the building was concluded in 1907. The building has three storeys and features a coffeehouse, an art gallery, a number of halls, as well as a concert hall with 450 seats"

"THE NATIONAL BANK OF BULGARIA was established on January 25th, 1879. Its headquarters' building on Battenberg Square was built between 1934 and 1939 in the neoclassical style. It spreads over an area of 3,700 square metres"

"THE NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM occupies the building of the largest and oldest former Ottoman mosque in the city, built around 1474 under Mehmed II. The museum was officially inaugurated in 1905 and has five exhibition halls: Central, Prehistory, Middle Ages, Treasure, and a special temporary exhibition"

"THE FORMER PARTY HOUSE is located at the Largo, an architectural ensemble of three buildings, designed and built in the 1950s to become the city's new representative centre. It is now regarded as one of the prime examples of Socialist Classicism architecture and consists of the former headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party (picture) and two side edifices: one accommodating the TZUM department store and the Council of Ministers (next picture) and another occupied by the President's Office, the Sheraton and the Ministry of Education"

"TZUM, abbreviated from Tsentralen universalen magazin (Central Department Store), officially opened in 1957 with an area of 20,570 square metres. It underwent major reconstruction in 1986 and, by 1988, 120,000 people went through the store daily. After 1989, TZUM was transformed to become a place for expensive boutiques and the daily number of customers felt to 7,000. Another reconstruction followed in 1999–2000. Later, brands like Timberland, Nautica, ADIDAS, Tommy Hilfiger, Swarovski, Nike, etc., had stores there, however attracting only 12,000 people per day"

"THE SHERATON, sandwiched between the Presidential Palace and the central square that feeds into Vitosha (the city's best-known shopping street), is housed in one of Sofia's landmarks. It also overlooks the intersection between the main Tsar Osvoboditel and Maria Luiza Boulevards"

"THE CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JOSEPH is the co-cathedral of the Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv, together with the Cathedral of St. Louis of France in Plovdiv. Destroyed during World War II, the foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid personally by Pope John Paul II in 2002 at its former location, and it was inaugurated on May 21st, 2006. The Cathedral has 350 seats, shelters a total of about 1,000 people, is 23 m long, 15 m wide and 19 m high, has a 33 m belfry and four electronic bells"

"THE SOFIA PUBLIC MINERAL BATHS - Sofia is a city known for its mineral springs. The Baths were built in the early 20th century near the former Turkish bath (then destroyed) and were used as the city's public baths until 1986. The building was designed in the Vienna Secession style, but integrating Bulgarian, Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox ornamental elements. Damaged several times, it was reconstructed and cleaned and is planned to accommodate the Museum of Sofia and a healing centre"

"THE CENTRAL MARKET HALL, a covered market located on Marie Louise Boulevard, was opened in 1911. The construction of the Neo-Renaissance building, which spreads over 3,200 square metres, began in 1909 and took two years to complete. It features also elements of Neo-Byzantine architecture and Neo-Baroque. The façade is known for its relief of the coat of arms of Sofia above the main entrance"

"THE NATIONAL PALACE OF CULTURE, opened in 1981, is the largest multifunctional conference and exhibition centre in South-eastern Europe (123,000 square metres). In July 2005, the Palace was proclaimed the best congress centre in the world by the International Organization of Congress Centres. Curiously, more than 10,000 tons of steel were used for the construction of the Palace - 3,000 more than the Eiffel Tower"

"THE NATIONAL STADIUM, named after Bulgarian national hero Vassil Levski, is the country's largest stadium (43,632 seats) and is eligible to host UEFA Cup final football matches. It was officially opened in 1953 and reconstructed in 1966 and 2002. The stadium offers also aerobics, basketball, boxing, fencing, gymnastics, judo, and table tennis halls, as well as two conference halls and three restaurants"


Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! The «Cowparade» was post number 366, if we take into account not only Blogtrotter, but also 70s & 80s (still in wet in Ireland) and Revival 90s (in sunny Boca Raton). It surely means more than four thousands pictures posted... Hope you enjoy them!
For those who were intrigued on which is the only street in London where you drive on the right hand side of the road, the answer is: the small street that leads to the entrance of the Savoy Hotel. Check the red cab on the first picture of the previous post... However, there is no need to get there now; in fact, as of December 15, 2007 the Savoy has closed to undergo a £100 million restoration...

S-V-H said...

Hi Gil,

I enjoy every one of your pictures! It is like traveling myself tough all these countries. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you also for your wonderful comment and compliments to my work in photography.

I have to tell you, Charleston is beautiful and much more sophisticated than Key West and we have here also nice and real beaches, not like in Key West, they are all man made. I will post soon some beach photos. Stay tuned!

Nihal said...

This 7,000 year old city Bulgaria located on the major ''crossroads'' of the Balkan Peninsula where Europe touches Asia:) The basic cultures of the European civilization like - Thracian, Greek/Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian as well as Ottoman traces like -mosques, baths, and old wooden colorful houses- from the late Middle Ages make Bulgaria still rich and dramatic country.
A great touching 'n informatique article, Gil. I shall thank-U again for sharing it w/us.

Have a blessed Sunday.

N from CrossRoads:)

Nikon said...

Wow, Gil, that is a lot of architectural styles :-)
I love the old "party headquarters", it is so Eastern European, '50s style.
(I've been having hard drive problems so Hem's posts are even further delayed ;)
Have a great weekend!

Cergie said...

Bonjour Gil, bon retour donc dans le monde du blog !

Surprise par ces immeubles si pompeux et disant la gloire de la collectivité. Des cubes uax façades rytmées de colonnes. Pas tellement différenciés les uns des autres. Seul le musée archéologique offre au regard un zeste d'ancienneté

Aujourd'hui en France c'est la journée "porte ouverte à l'opéra". L'ami Peter ira sans doute, moi il me faudrait une heure de transport aller et une retour. Quoiqu'il fasse TRES beau, j'apréhende l'attente dans le TRES froid. Tant pis, j'irai une autre fois, en dehors de la collectivité

Dsole said...

Thank you for call me at my blog to come and see your cow-parade! I really enjoy it a lot!
I know I've been out for a long time, it's just that I'm pretty busy at work and I'm out everyweekend, so no time for blogging...
Hey Sofia has a lot of amazing and different buildings by the way! some of them I like and some don't but I guess that's life, uh?
Have a great week, see you soon! :)

RuneE said...

You have seen a lot of the world - and shared it with us.

Have look at my place - I have given you an award.

Shionge said...

Despite the time it looks like fresh coat of pain over these historical buildings, they do take pretty good care of them isn't it.

Wonderful photos as usual.

Lori said...

What an interesting tour through Sofia. I don't think I've ever seen pictures from Bulgaria before. These buildings are very impressive. That's also very interesting about Cyril and Methodius and the cyrillic alphabet. You always teach us something new! Loved all the photos!!

Irina said...

Sophia is stunning! And it's rather surprising to understand every label - Bulgarian is very similar to Russian.

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting my pictures! By the way, old railway station is not made of red brick but of coloured wood :)

Lara said...

wonderful post! and as usual, lots of interesting information. you make all places sound so great - a real talent of a real globetrotter!

EMNM said...

Beautiful city! seems a bit cold

indicaspecies said...


Good to see you back in action.

You've got me excited with this post as it made me recall my trip to the ancient city of Varna years back. I still recall the great beaches and the awesome beauty of nature there. However, I had not got a chance to visit Sofia. Now I am enjoying this virtual tour with your post filled with splendid pictures. Thanks. :)

Noushy Syah said...

Hi Gil,
East European's has different architectural in comparison with other European counterparts, so unique and interesting though.Sofia definitely has lots to offer.

Congratz for you have successfully posted more than 4000 photos...amazing!! Keep it up as we really enjoy scrolling your archives.

Take Care.Have a gr8 day .

Azer Mantessa said...

thanks for the answer regarding the street. i was like asking everybody but nobody knew the answer. will keep this is mind ... perhaps i'll win a price someday.

perhaps i missed somewhere but a historical fact given by nihal as Sofia is 7,000 year old city is fantastic.

varieties of architechtural styles there all over Sofia. very interesting. thanks :-)

alicesg said...

Those are so beautiful buildings. I really love those anicent buildings better than modern buildings. They really paid much attention to all those lovely designs and well crafted too. Thanks for sharing.

Ming the Merciless said...

The architecture of the buildings is gorgeous. I guess all that years of communist rule kept the old buildings from being demolished for new ones.

Indrani said...

Bulgaria, I had read about it only in textbooks and rarely hear about this country in international news. Thanks, I could tour through the streets of this beautiful city through your pictures.

Lilli & Nevada said...

What a great set of photos and information on them all. I have to say my favorite was the bath house so colorful

Peter said...

First, thanks for answer to your question! ... and for the hint that Savoy is temporarily closed! (Anyhow, once retired, I'm afraid that my hotel star requirements has decreased.)
You don't post every day, but when you do, you do it very thoroughfully! I appreciate! Thanks!

Olivier said...

la promenade continue, j'aime beaucoup "THE SOFIA PUBLIC MINERAL BATHS" meme si je regrette les panneaux publicitaires devant, le batiment a l'air tres beau

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment on!!!
And also:as Liliane said,I'm enjoying everyone of your pictures and it's like traveling myself though all these countries. Yes "thanks for your sharing",thanks for always teaching us something new. Great and clever blog!. Many,many thanks.

Thistlemoon said...

It looks like a gorgeous city! I love these virtual tours! Hopefully one day I can get there too!

lyliane six said...

J'ai regardé sur la carte de la fin du blog, mais je n'avais pas vu celle d'avant, aussi comme grands pays je vois la Russie, Le Canada, les États Unis, l'Australie, l'Inde, mais j'ai déjà vu des photos de ces voyages?
Je laisse donc là ma curiosité et vais admirer Sofia, ses immeubles cossus,ses grandes avenues et son beau ciel bleu.

MedaM said...

This beautiful set of photos and informative articles that go with them are just great. Your post makes me feel I have already been there.
By the way the first letter I learnt in school was Cyrillic alphabet.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful place. The architecture of the buildings are interesting. The photos are beautiful and they are well explained with some history that made it even more interesting. Thank you!

Alex's World! -

di.di said...

arggghhh... so many nice places with so little money...

annulla said...

Oh, I've always wanted to visit Bulgaria, and your posts are the closest I've managed to get. Thanks for the little trip inside sunny Sofia.

Blather From Brooklyn

Anonymous said...

Wow! Lots of wonderful things to see here. Thanks for sharing them with us.


JO said...

I really love the mineral baths building! Very cool!

Great post as usual.

Anonymous said...

kind of funny how rigid the architecture is -reminds me of Helsinki.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your always kind comments. I’m glad you enjoy travelling with my pictures.
I’ll be checking your Charleston posts, and will be learning even more as, contrary to the Conch Republic, I’ve never been to South Carolina...

7000 years old city at the crossroads, it surely would please you! I also adore your Crossroads posts!

You’re right about the Eastern Europe style of some of those buildings, namely at the Largo. They’re amazing.
Look forward to seeing new Hem’s posts…

C’est vrai que quelques bâtiments semblent manquer la patine, mais à mon avis c’est curieux de voir le style «réalisme socialiste» en action… Le musée, par contre, était une ancienne mosquée!
Porte ouverte à l’opéra ça semble intéressant. Moi, j’irais voir «La Clemenza di Tito», dernière opéra de Mozart, la semaine prochaine; malheureusement, il a fallu acheter des billets…;)

What a big pleasure seeing you here, despite all the work you must be involved into! At least, you’ve been out every weekend, and that seems quite nice… ;)
Sofia could be some kind of an odd patchwork (crossroads, Nihal would say)!

Thanks a lot for the «I learn from you Award». It’s reciprocal!

Well, some are more historical than others, but anyhow it seems they are being cared nowadays!

Thanks! Blogtrotter’s motto is «It is not such a small world!»; the problem is that the more I see, the more remains to be seen. Like Socrates… ;))

Glad to see you landing here out of Moscow’s snow! Using the same alphabet helps to make things understandable, so it would be easy to you strolling around in Bulgaria!
Thanks for the correction; I didn’t enlarge the railway picture…

Thanks! I would say that at least some of the places I picture are actually great… ;)))

Cold? Probably like a city you know better: «nine months invierno, three months infierno… ;)))

Glad that it brought you nice memories. I’ve not been to Varna, but it seems the Bulgarian Black Sea beaches are quite nice! One day…

Noushy Syah,
It’s true that you find different architectural styles in Eastern (Central) Europe, but at the end there is always something familiar; not exactly like Far-East.
Recalculating, it must be close to five thousand pictures posted… ;)

Azer Mantessa,
The street information would be absolutely needed for you to win Trivial Pursuit… ;))
Actually, there were human settlements in the site of current Sofia for 7000 years, it seems!

Alice SG,
I may agree with you in relation to some of the «modern» buildings; and it’s true that they refurbished and renovated some of the old beauties of Sofia…

You might be right; old buildings degraded but were not torn down…

Indrani Ghose,
Thanks for your comment. Glad that you enjoy the Sofia’s stroll!

Lilli & Nevada,
Thanks. The bath house is amazing, though the panels in front corrupt it a lit bit… ;))

Thanks. The Savoy is a once in a lifetime experience, so maybe it should be considered… unless, after a 100 million £ renovation, the prices boost…;))

C’est vrai; il y en a encore des choses à voir à Sofia! Les Bains devraient devenir le Musée de La Ville de Sofia, mais il semble que le projet a échoué…

Thanks for the comment. Difficult to identify my comment on M… ;))

Thanks. I should make a walking tour after seeing your delightful recipes; in Sofia or anywhere else… ;)))

Ah! Il y a un grand pays que tu as mentionné qui ne figurait pas sur la carte et continue a ne pas figurer ni sur la liste des Labels, ni sur la liste des Links des Revival Blogs! Maintenant c’est facile…
Les immeubles cossus! Très bien noté…

Thanks. I can also read the letters (capital letters, not lowercase letters) of the Cyrillic alphabet; quite useful to identify subway stations in Moscow… ;))

Thanks. Glad that it pleases you!

Thanks! It all started in 1969 hitch-hiking Europe (see Revival 80s) and without much money…

Great that the post had some interest to you!

Thanks! It’s a shame that the Mineral Baths Building seems to be still closed…

Rigid it may be; But Helsinki doesn’t seem so severe to me… ;))

Tinsie said...

Sofia looks like an interesting place. Shame there aren't more of the old-style grand buildings around. I thought the building that houses the Austrian embassy looked fab.

I guess le style «réalisme socialiste» en action isn't my thing ;-)

GMG said...

However, they managed to keep some Vienese style buildings around...
I could guess you wouldn't be fond of the «réalisme» style... ;))

Ming the Merciless said...

The architecture in Bulgaria is magnificient. I love the details on the building.

Lakshmi said...

what amazing architecture ...thanks for the tour


Anonymous said...

You're right, at least as far as «these» buildings are concerned...