Attractions in Sofia
St. Sofia is the oldest Eastern Orthodox church in the city, dating from the 4th to 6th century, and is regarded as one of the most significant examples of early Christian architecture in the Balkans. In the 14th century the church gave its name to the city of Sofia, meaning "holy wisdom". During the Turkish rule the church was converted into a mosque, but was abandoned after two successive earthquakes destroyed one of the minarets almost 30 years later, and it was again converted into an orthodox church. Local legends credit St. Sofia's miraculous powers for its protection over the centuries, surviving occupations and natural disasters to remain as a spiritual inspiration to the city.
Address: 2 Paris Street; Telephone: (0)2 870 971
St. George Rotunda
The rotunda church of St. George is considered to be the oldest building in Sofia, dating to the 4th century, and is situated amid the remains of the ancient Roman town of Serdica. St. George Rotunda is famous for its exquisite architecture and layers of medieval frescoes that were discovered under a covering of plaster. The magnificent dome is protected by UNESCO and the church functions at present as a museum.
Address: 5 Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya; Telephone: (0)2 981 6541; Opening time: Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 1pm and 3pm to 5.30pm.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
One of the finest examples of 20th century architecture in Sofia and one of the symbols of the city, the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built between 1882 and 1912 to honor the Russian soldiers who died fighting to liberate Bulgaria from Turkish rule in the war of 1878 under Tsar Alexander II. The famous church-monument is situated on the tree-lined square of the same name, which also contains the Monument of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. The impressive five-nave basilica houses an interior just as splendid, with mosaics, stained glass windows, marble and woodcarvings as well as frescoes that cover the walls and domes. The underground crypt houses the Icon Museum featuring icon paintings from across the country that represents masterpieces from the 9th to the 18th century.
Address: 1 St Alexander Nevsky Square; Telephone: (0)2 877 697; Website: www.sofia.com/culture/churches/nevsky.html; Opening time: Daily 7am to 5.30pm. Museum opens 10am to 6pm; closed Tuesdays; Admission: The cathedral is free, but admission is charged for the museum.
National Ethnographic Museum
It has one of the richest collections on the Balkan Peninsula representing the traditions, arts, crafts and lifestyle of the Bulgarian people from the 17th to the 20th century. The museum contains a wealth of exhibits from around the country, including national costumes, jewelry, art works and musical instruments. It is also a popular cultural and educational centre. A craft shop sells crafts and other traditional Bulgarian items from all over Bulgaria.
Address: 6A Moskovska Street; Telephone: (0)2 874 191; Opening time: Wednesday to Sunday 10.30am to 5.30pm.