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Sofia

Culture of Sofia. Places to visit - old town, temples, theaters, museums and palaces

Sofia The historic district of the city strikes with an abundance of spectacular sights. Buildings of different eras have preserved in Sofia. There are also lots of museums in the city. Obligatory part of excursions is represented by the Royal Palace. In the second half of the 19th century, the execution of the national hero Vasil Levski took place there. For many years it was used as the headquarters of the Ottoman police and witnessed several important historical events.
You could find restaurants of any cuisine in Sofia. Travelers will enjoy local eating places and attractive prices. Among the most prestigious dining places the L'etranger international … Open
Since 1887, the palace was the main residence of the royal family. Nowadays it hosts two outstanding cultural institutions, the Ethnographical Museum and the National Art Gallery. The Banya Bashi Mosque is an interesting landmark. Built in 1576 by ​​one of the most famous Turkish architect, it continues to operate for more than four centuries.
The red brick building can be seen even from remote areas of the city. Travelers can appreciate the appearance of the mosque and access its interior; in hours free of prayers entry is open to devotees of any religion. A lot of impressions will give a trip to the Ivan Vazov House Museum. This is where the internationally renowned Bulgarian writer lived and worked; in several rooms the situation of the early 20th century was restored completely. Among exhibits of the museum there is the collection of photographs and personal belongings of the writer. One of the most unusual exhibits is a stuffed dog Bobby that was a writer’s pet. Travelers fascinated by painting would like the National Gallery for Foreign Art. Copyright www.orangesmile.com
Local culture strikes with an abundance of beautiful customs and traditions, interesting festivals and rituals, many of which have pagan roots. An acquaintance with local culture is an … Open
Collection of exhibits includes many treasures of world importance; works of little-known European artists are also represented in the gallery. One of the halls of the gallery is devoted to Indian culture; there visitors can see original ornaments and figurines of wood, paintings and engravings. The oldest building of Sofia is the St. George Rotunda. The building was built more than a thousand years ago; during its long history, it has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. The last large-scale reconstruction was completed in 1998. In addition to the building, architects have managed to restore the part of adjacent Roman constructions.
In the section below, you can get one of our excursion, activities or city discovery tours over Sofia and surroundings. Our website offers 10-30% lower ticket prices, when compared to the offline purchase on the spot.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Sofia and surroundings

Plan your own excursion through Sofia: churches, museums and castles

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

» The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cathedral dedicated to Russian soldiers who freed Bulgaria of the Turkish yoke. The cathedral was built by patriots of Bessarabia, Dobrudzha, Austria, and Russia.
»  In 1882, the first stone was laid. The construction lasted from 1904 to 1912. It had been named after Saint Cyrill and Methodius until 1920. The cathedral was declared a cultural monument only in 1924.
»  The building was designed by Russian architects I. Bogomolov and A. Pomerantsev. The cathedral was built and decorated with Russian and Bulgarian architects and artists. The iconostasis of the cathedral is decorated with two icons painted by V. M. Vasnetsov.
»  The Iveron Icon of the Mother of God in the pearl frame was donated to the cathedral by Aleksey I, a Russian patriarch.
»  The total area of the building is 2 600 m2, so it can accommodate about 5 000 people at the same time. The bell tower has 12 bells made in Moscow. The biggest bell weighs 12 tons. The sound of bells is heard even beyond the city.
»  Nowadays, the cathedral is the residence of Bulgarian patriarchs. It also appeared in two films: “Hitman” and “Ninja”.

Saint Sofia Church, Sofia

» The Saint Sofia Church or the Basilica of Saint Sofia is the oldest church that has survived to this day. The first churches were built here already in the 3rd century. They were destroyed during barbarians’ raids. In 537, the Saint Sofia Church was reconstructed on the initiative of Emperor Justinian I.
»  In the late 16th century, during the Ottoman invasion, Turks turned the Orthodox Church into a mosque, built a minaret, and got rid of paintings. In 1858, the minaret was destroyed by an earthquake, so Turks rebuilt it into a warehouse.
»  The church was repeatedly restored in the 20th century and finally gained its original appearance. In 1998, the basilica was opened for parishioners.
»  During archaeological excavations, catacombs with graves were found under the building. You can also see the fragment of the painting of the first church.
»  In 1955, the Saint Sofia Church was declared a cultural monument.

National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia

» The National Gallery for Foreign Art houses the collection received from the National Art Gallery in 1985. The gallery was founded by the Fund of Lyudmila Zhivkova, the daughter of Todor Zhivkov. Many exhibits were donated from private collections.
»  The gallery occupies four floors of an old mansion. The collection of foreign art includes 10 000 exhibits.
»  In the halls, you can see paintings and sculptures of Western European masters: Rembrandt, M. Chagall, F. Giya, S. Dali, P. Picasso, and Roden.
»  The gallery houses over 200 works of Nikolai Roerich and his son Svetoslav.
»  Here, you can also see the big and interesting collection of different decorative items from Africa, Japan, India, and Asia.

Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, Sofia

» The Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, or Seven Saints Church, was built at the site of the Black Mosque in 1903. The mosque was called like this because its minaret was made of black marble. The Black Mosque was founded in 1528.
»  When Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire, it was abandoned and dilapidated. The Christian Church was rebuilt on the initiative of A. N. Pomerantsev. A bell tower with four bells was constructed. The church was consecrated in honor of St. Cyril and Methodius and their followers: Savva, Clement, Nahum, Angelar, and Gorazd.
»  When the church was rebuilt, the excavations were conducted. Under the foundation, the fragments of an old Christian Church dating back to the 5th century were found. Also, the fragments of Asklepion, the temple of the Roman god of medicine Asklepios where people were treated, were found here.

National Art Gallery, Sofia

» The National Art Gallery is located in the former residence of Prince Alexander of Battenberg. It was built in 1873. Pieces of art started to be collected in 1892. The sector in the Archeology Museum was allocated for them.
»  When the collection was big enough, an art gallery was opened. In 1952, the gallery occupied some rooms in the palace.
»  The collection includes paintings and sculptures of Bulgarian National Revival artists (1878).
»  Medieval icons that are real treasures of the gallery are kept and displayed at the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
»  The gallery houses 50 000 works made by 3 000 Bulgarian masters.
»  The National Gallery also includes home-museums of artists Vera Nedkova and Nikola Tanev and sculptor Ivan Lazarov.
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What to visit during two-day excursion in Sofia

Aleksandar Nevski Memorial Church
Where: pl. Aleksandar Nevski, Sofia; Telephone: + 359 (0)2 988 17 04; Opening hours: Open daily 7am-7pm.; More info: Trolley no. 9 to aleksandar nevski sq.;
Russian Church of St Nicholas
Where: 3 Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, Sofia; Telephone: +359 (0)2 986 27 15; More info: Trolley no. 9 to aleksandar nevski sq.;
Rotunda of St George
Where: 5 Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya, Sofia; Telephone: +359 (0)2 981 6541; More info: Tram no. 1/2/7/14/18 to sq. sveta nedelya;
National History Museum
Where: 16 Vitoshko lale, Sofia; Telephone: +359 (0)2 955 42 80; More info: Bus no. 63/111;
Ethnographical Museum
Where: Aleksandar Batenberg Place / 6A, Moskovska St, Sofia; Telephone: + 359 (0)2 987 41 91; Opening hours: Open 10:30am - 5:30pm, closed on Monday and Tuesdays.; More info: Tram no. 2/12/14/18 to aleksandar batenburg st.;
Sofia Art Gallery
Where: 1 General Gurko Street, entrance from Kniaz Al. Batenberg Str., Sofia; Telephone: +359 (0)2 9872181; Opening hours: Open Tuesday-Saturday; More info: Tram no. 2/12/14/18 to aleksandar batenburg st.;
Boyana Church
Where: ul. Boyansko ezero 1-3, Sofia; Telephone: + 359 (0)2 959 0939; More info: Bus 64/107 to boyansko hanche;
Reference information
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Sofia and around
♥   Art museum 'National Archaeological Museum' Sofia, 1.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'National Art Gallery' Sofia, 1.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'National Gallery for Foreign Art' Sofia, 2 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Car rental on OrangeSmile.com Rentals in Sofia

Fully Vaccinated Travelers from the EU and US are Now Quarantine Free in the UK

The new rule applies to most of the European Union, including Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway. Travelers coming from France, however, are exempt from the rule and are still required to self-isolate for 10 days after the arrival. Additionally, these travelers still need two negative coronavirus tests – one before the trip and another test taken right after the arrival. Read this

05.08.2021

Photogallery of cultural heritage of Sofia

Landmarks of culture on Sofia map: art-galleries, monuments, palaces, etc

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Excursions over cultural sights of neighbours of Sofia

Culture guide to Sofia. Which fascinating sights to visit once you are in Sofia: temples, churches, museums, theaters and castles. Recommendations (with addresses, phone numbers and links) on the places 'must visit' in Sofia. Plan your own city excursion by using this page info!
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