We have already arrived at the airport where we will fly back at dawn, but still with a lot to tell you.
The Boyana church, in the surroundings of Sofia
If there is something that we consider essential in Sofia is to visit one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bulgaria and only that we were missing in our route through the country, the Boyana Church, so after having breakfast at theNiki Hotel, we have checked out (leaving our luggage in storage) and we have taken a taxi to it (buses 107 and 64 can be taken, but we wanted to take advantage of the time) for 10 BGN
The Boyana Church "San Nicola and San Pantaleón" It is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, in the Sofia neighborhood, Boyana. It is one of the few monuments of medieval Christian art that have come to this day. The church is part of the 100 Sites of Tourist Interest and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List (1979).
It was built in three stages: first stage in the eleventh century, second stage in the middle of the thirteenth century and third stage during the middle of the nineteenth century.
The World Heritage Award has a reason for being, not only for its building and cross vault, nor for the artistic layer that covers the eastern part of the temple but, above all, for the impressive 1259 paintings of medieval Bulgarian culture from which something we have seen these days and that here manifests itself in an amazing way upon entering. By the way, that you can only visit 8 in 8 people to preserve the paintings, everything is carried out with strict control (we have had to wait for 2 groups to leave before entering). Your price 10 BGN per person
240 images really taken care of an artistic value that we would never be able to judge and that some of the oldest preserved portraits of historical figures.
We can also see 18 scenes in the atrium of the artists' daily life, as well as representation of saints, especially Ivan Rilski. Do you remember who it was? The founder in S.X del Rila Monastery We visited the third day of our trip.
It is impressive to see how one of the two sides has been eating the humidity over the years, but showing the paintings before the final relief that we can see in much more detail in the rest of the rooms.
Other curious facts before we leave. The fresco of the year 1279 that we talked about before is known to be from the school of Veliko Tarnovo but its authorship is unknown. !Poor man! Such a value fallen into oblivion, that on the one hand and on the other is the only place where the first three-dimensional paintings are seen ... impressive!
What to see in Sofia in 1 day (detailed route with map)
The truth is that once a visit that we considered essential (and after buying a gift for 6 BGN), Sofia has been a much more avant-garde metropolis than our prejudices recognized us. At times, as we saw last night, it seems modern, with huge shopping centers and boulevars of atmosphere. Other times they intermingle with art galleries in hidden courtyards or flea markets of old books between gray-looking buildings anchored in the past. Finally, a concentration of majestic buildings, with mosques, churches and other examples of architecture they have occupied the rest of the day on a route similar to the following
We have taken the taxi from other arriving visitors and with it we have placed ourselves at the other end of the city (12 BGN). We start the route near the "Monument of the Soviet army" in the Knyazheska garden, known for coming out in the news covered in pink on several occasions by vandalism, an example of the socialist influence of times gone by.
Right in front is the Sofia University (1) which houses 15 faculties and more than 14,000 students every year in a complex made by a French architect.
The National Library (2)As it could not be otherwise, it is right next to it and it is also worth visiting one of the landmarks of the city of Sofia designed by the famous Bulgarian architectural team Vasilyov-Tsolov (1940-1953)
Advancing on our monumental walk fundamentally along the Osvoboditel Boulevard, and leaving on our left the monument to Tsar Liberator or Tsar Osvoboditel (3), a bronze equestrian statue 14 meters high, we will see the National Assembly (4), a building that dramatically attracts attention for its completely white neo-Renaissance style. It was a creation of the Viennese architect Yovanovich under the motto "the union is strength" (which is sculpted at his door)
But what do our eyes see? Now if we are in front of something that really catches our attention ... the second largest Orthodox cathedral in the Balkans, the monumental temple of "St. Alexander Nevsky" (5), considered the authentic symbol of the Bulgarian capital
St. Alexander Nevsky, Russian prince (1220-1263) patron saint of Russian Emperor Alexander II. It is the symbol of Russian military glory. The majestic cathedral was built in Sofia (although the idea was to do it in Veliko Tarnovo) in 1882, although it ended in 1912 and was consecrated in 1924, in honor of Emperor Alexander II of Russia (whose army liberated Bulgaria in 1878 from the Ottomans ).
And when we say imposing, it is that we speak of 3,170 m2 and capacity for more than 5,000 people and it was spared nothing, from the white stone of Vratza, oak wooden doors, golden domes, bell tower of 53 m. with 12 bells, ...
If it were already amazing, what can you say about its marble interior? Paintings, a spectacular iconostasis, the Tsar's throne and a valuable mural of Tsar Fernando and Tsarina Eleonora.
In the basement of the cathedral is the Crypt that has the largest collection of religious icons in Bulgaria. !!Awesome!!
Very close is the Hagia Sophia (6), the oldest in the city, from the 6th century !! and the one that gives it its name! It was built on 2 even older temples and its red brick is unmistakable and where today a wedding is also taking place
Although, without a doubt, what attracts our attention is the underground necropolis (6 BGN) that keep some stairs down. It seems that Santa Sofia was built in the place occupied by dozens of masonry tombs of the 14th century from the city of Serdika (the old name of Sofia)
It is really exciting to walk through this small maze in the subsoil where life is made today, being able to discover some treasures that archaeological studies found as fragments of a mosaic of one of the oldest temples.
Already out again, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame and the tombstone of Ivan Vzov
A stop to drink something Paula? !Voucher! (6.10 BGN) We will recognize it ... We have already spent more than 2 weeks in Bulgaria and where there is no menu in English we still only know how to order food for the "little drawings". If ... go two!
We continue this monumental route set aside the National Opera (7), one of the most important buildings in Sofia with also cheaper prices for fans although Paula calls something more attention, a craft market with some of the most curious things we have seen these days (31 BGN)
A little tired of such architectural buildings, we found a "black sheep" on the road. This is the Church of St. Nicholas known as Russian Church (9), with green roof exterior and golden onion-shaped domes.
Call in Bulgarian Sveti Nikolai, it was finished in 1914 for the Russian community and its narrow interior has icons painted between the 11th and 14th centuries
With the Ivan Vazov National Theater (9) We end the morning before eating such a "empacho" of culture. It is named in tribute to the Bulgarian novelist, playwright and poet Iván Vazov, and the truth that its columns with mythological air and its baroque style does not leave indifferent ... !! but there is already hunger! and in a small square where there was a lot of tranquility we have planted base (23 BGN)
It has been difficult for us to continue on our way, the sun hits (and how it hits) today in Sofia. We have hovered around 35ºC at that time (two waters for 2.18 BGN). Our next point on the road is thePresidential Palace (10) where we don't stop beyond seeing its facade. It seems that here there is also changing of the guard every hour but ...! We have seen so many! We prefer to follow our route
In the inner courtyard of the Palace are the famous ruins of the Roundabout of St. George (15), a small brick-built church from the Roman era dating back to the fourth century, being the oldest building in Sofia.
The el aside Archaeological Museum, Party House and some other building (11) we planted ourselves in a completely different building than those seen until now, where it seems that they have found more vestiges of the past that are conditioning at the moment
It's about the Banya Banshi Mosque (12), the only active mosque dating from 1576 with a striking red brick minaret and whose photo from its back bears a certain resemblance to a certain Istanbul square, does it not?
SomePublic Mineral BathsClosed serves to remember the sources of mineral water of Sofia before continuing through the Maria Luisa Boulevar, who was going to discover the area of greatest contrasts of religions in a smaller space that we have seen in different cities. Mosques, churches and even a synagogue. And is that the third largest in Europe after the one in Amsterdam and the one we saw in Budapest, is in this place ... the Sofia's Moorish Synagogue (13) designed by architect Friedrich Gruenanger in 1909.
We finish a long cultural and architectural route in the Sveta Nedelya Cathedral (14), a magnificent domed church famous for its Byzantine-style murals
We have already said it on more than one occasion, but the simple and even perhaps the purest atmosphere of Orthodox Christianity is no longer lived in the Catholic Church. The new pope has to do a lot for this to change
More places to see in Sofia: museums, markets and atmosphere
Besides of craft marketthat we saw in the morning, near the area where we ended up is also "The Women's or Traditional Market" where Stefan Stambolov Street is full of stalls where they sell fruit and vegetables. In front of the mosque, by Maria Luisa, there is also the "Hali or Central market"where you can browse a little on the local clotheslines or even buy the last memories (20 BGN)
Those who wish to pass more than 1 day in the capital of Bulgaria There are more options to complete the visit:
- Nacional History Museum
- Zoo Garden
- National Museum of "The Earth and the People"
- National Polytechnic Museum
- Dragalevtsi Monastery
- National Museum of Military History
However, we have already got kicked and yesterday we liked the atmosphere of the anime Boulveard Vitosha, one of the avenues of stores with more glamor, more economic activity and more life of Sofia
Around here revolves the main activity (and more on Friday) of the premises, which together with all the tourists that are these days in the city, create a very cosmopolitan atmosphere that mixes its main cultural claims with the most "chic" bars and restaurants where we spent the afternoon (17 BGN)
Although Sofia offers much more. We had read that it is a city that does not deserve to spend more than 1 day. It is possible that your cultural route is so, but those who come in July or August may extend their stay by losing the multitude of markets that hides as well as corners with art galleries that are very worthwhile, always accompanied by some beautiful decorated terrace With the most delicate style.
The "Keys" have to return. We write these lines at Sofia Airport, after having an exquisite dinner at the restaurantNiki Hotel (33 BGN) and take a taxi (15 BGN), where the "capricious" schedule that Vueling wanted to put us (4.10 in the morning) has prevented us from sleeping for a few hours. It's time to collect photos, videos and more snapshots of a car route through Bulgaria that has us in love!
Paula and Isaac from Sofia (Bulgaria)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 144.28 BGN (approx. 73.99 EUR) and GIFTS: 57 BGN (approx. 29.23 EUR)