Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, is not included in the top of my favorite cities in the world. But I like to be there and every time I learn something new about this place.
The center of Sofia has, in my opinion, a bit of a strange look – it is a mix of differet styles: pompous buildings of the Soviet era, ancient roman ruins, modern European-style buildings and some kind of ugly shabby shacks. In sleeping quarters there are a lot of gray panel houses. But the city makes, on the whole, a good impression. There is something to see here.
I will try to describe the most popular attractions in breif, not including antique sights. I do not want to repeat myself, as I have already written about them here.
Well, I consider Vitosha to be the main decoration of the capital (see the picture above). Sofia is located at the foot of a very picturesque mountain, which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. There is snow on its peaks, you can climb there on one of the lifts, or by car. Winter is the season for mountain-skiers on Vitosha. And in summer, townspeople climb there to take a break from the heat and spend time in the fresh air. The places are really beautiful there, but I must admit, that we have not climbed there yet.
The center of the capital is quite compact, so its main attractions can be seen in one day. It is worth visiting the Presidential Palace to watch the ceremonial change of the guard. Tourists with cameras are always going to this event.
Not far from the palace is the Banja Bashi mosque, one of the oldest in Europe. Of all the mosques in Sofia, only this one has survived. It is valid, but tourists can also come in for the purpose of watching the interior. Opposite the mosque, just across the road, you can see the Halite market, characterized by beautiful architecture. This indoor market was opened in 1911. Inside they sell food and souvenirs.
The Mineral baths – a very colorful and positive building near the mosque. It is a real pleasure to look at all the small details. There used to be terms, but now they do not work. But, in front of the building and behind it there are springs with hot mineral water, where you can draw as much as you like. Local people constantly come here with a lot of bottles. The chemical composition of the water is detailed on the tablets. It is good for health but the taste is not very good.
The Alexander Nevsky cathedral can be called a hallmark of the city. This Orthodox church was built in honor of the victory over the Ottoman rule and to honor the memory of Russian soldiers who died in this war. The cathedral looks very majestic thanks to its impressive dimensions. It’s nice inside, but I don’t understand church frescoes at all. Near the temple there is a flea market, and in spring sakuras are blooming here.
Vitosha Boulevard is the main pedestrian street of the city. Walking along it you can enjoy the view of the mountain. The street has a lot of restaurants, cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops. It is a very popular place with locals and tourists. In good weather, Vitosha can be seen clearly.
Next to this boulevard the Cathedral of the Holy Week is situated. The first church on this place was built in the 10th century. In the 19th century, it burned down, so a new cathedral, of more impressive dimensions, was built on the foundation. In 1925, a terrorist attack occurred in the church, many people died in the explosion, the building was again damaged and was restored.
The former royal palace, to tell the truth, is nothing special in appearance. If I didn’t know, I would never guessed what kind of building this is. There is nothing luxurious on the outside. Now the Art Gallery is working here.
The Vazov Theater is a magnificent building, so bright and at the same time elegant. The theater is located in a small park, in front of it is a beautiful fountain. The best pictures are obtained if you shoot from the fountain at the moment when the jets beat up. It is very nice to sit there on a bench and watch the tourists.
Here is such a small tour around the center of the Bulgarian capital. I’m glad if it turns out to be useful to someone. But this is only part of the attractions that can be seen in Sofia.