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“St. Sofia” church

Sofia, Sofia region

If St.George is the oldest church then St.Sofia is the oldest Eastern Orthodox church in Sofia with a long and fascinating history. It is a recently restored Byzantine church. It was built on the site of several earlier churches and places of worship dating back to the days when it was the necropolis of the Roman town Serdica (named after the Thracian Serdii tribe who originally inhabited the area). In the 2nd century, it was the location of a theatre used by the Romans for bloody public spectacles, such as the persecution and sacrifice of Christians in battles against gladiators and various wild beasts. Over the next few centuries, several other churches were erected, only to be destroyed by invading forces such as the Goths and the Huns.

The basic cross design of the present basilica, with its two east towers and one tower-cupola, is probably the fifth structure to inhabit the site and was built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian in the middle of the 6th century (527-565).
In the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th to 14th century), it acquired the status of a metropolitan church, giving the city its latest name: Sofia (meaning "holy wisdom"). During the Ottoman rule, the church was converted into a mosque: the original twelfth-century frescoes were destroyed and minarets were added. In the 19th century two earthquakes destroyed one of the minarets and the mosque was abandoned. After the Liberation, it was restored and reinstated as a church - there are no Muslim features left.

“St. Sofia” church is now one of the most valuable pieces of early Christian architecture in the Balkans, according to scholars. The present building is a cross basilica with three altars. According to popular lore, St Sophia's miraculous powers protected the lovely building over the centuries, warding off human invasions and natural disasters to keep the church as an instance of the elegant, austere and symmetrical architecture of the age.


Other places of interest in/near Sofia

City, Sofia region

The Bulgarian capital Sofia (population: 1 182 698 inhabitants) is located in the Sofiisko pole, 550 m above the sea level and occupies a territory of 1, 311 sq. km. Sofia lies at the distance of 55 km. from the Serbian border at Kalotino checkpoint, at 113 km from the Gyushevo checkpoint with Macedonia, at 183 km. from the Greek ...
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Monastery, Sofia region

The Rila monastery was founded by John of Rila in the 10th century, as a colony for hermits. Later it became one of early mediaeval culture. It declined during the 11th century, but with the foundation of the Second Bulgarian State great care was ...
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Natural phenomenon, Sofia region

Located about 15km south of Sofia on the way to Borovets resort in Rila mountain. Pancharevo Lake is perfect place for outgoings. The lake is 5km long and it is suitable for different water sports: rowing, surfing, water skiing. Paddle boats can be hired. Around the lake there are hiking trails, several grassy park areas with cafes ...
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Church, Sofia region

St. Alexander Nevski” cathedral is one of the most significant monuments of culture in Sofia. It was built between 1882 and 1912, in honour of the Russian king Alexander II, called “Tsar Osvoboditel” (“The King Liberator”), because his army helped liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878. The cathedral bears his name. The magnificent ...
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Gallery, Sofia region

The National Gallery for Foreign Art opened doors on 5 November 1985 as an art gallery of the present St. St. Cyril and Methodius International Foundation. It came into life after a decade of collecting and organizational activities. To the works that would comprise the Main body of the future gallery there was also added the foreign ...
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Monument, Sofia region

The building where the 39th National Assembly sits is of historic significance and it is a monument of culture. It was built in 1884-1886 by the design of architect Constantin Yovanovic, who studied in Vienna and Switzerland and authored the design of the Serbian Assembly (1891-1892) as well. The style of the building is neo-Renaissance. ...
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Gallery, Sofia region

The idea of collecting works and creating an art gallery of the capital occupied the keen councillors at the Municipality even before World War I. Their desire was to collect in one place works by our well-known masters connected mainly with the life, history and beautiful sights of our principal city. That was a period when the ...
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Museum, Sofia region

The National ethnographic museum was found in 1892 as a part of the National museum. In 1906 the museum became independent museum with a collection from the Bulgarian traditional crafts, suits, woven, decorations, musician instruments.
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Church, Sofia region

The rotunda is under the protection of UNESCO. It is located behind the Presidency. It was built when Sofia was under the name of Serdica. It was then destroyed by the Huns, rebuilt and turned into a mosque by the Ottomans. Restoration work has revealed three layers of medieval frescoes, which had been hidden by plaster since the ...
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Church, Sofia region

The Russian church “St. Nikolai” was built in 1913 in the style of the churches in Moscow from the 17c. Its project belongs to the Russian architect M. Preobravenski. The temple was decorated under the guidance of A. Smirnov, who took part in the building of the monumental temple St.Alexander Nevski. The murals are also in the traditional ...
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Gallery, Sofia region

A walk through the park away from Boulevard Tsar Osvoboditel will take you to the impossible-to-miss red and white Ivan Vazov National Theater, where the National Theater Company performs Bulgarian as well as international plays. The theater was built in 1906-07 in Baroque style and is brimmed with Greek mythological figures. The ...
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Church, Sofia region

The “St. Nedelya” Church is in the Sofia’s ideal center on the “St. Nedelya” square, dividing the main city traffic artery of two streets: the “Vitosha blvd. and the “Knyaginya Maria Louisa” blvd. It was established in Medieval times onto relics of the ancient Roman town of Serdica. Later in the period 1856 – 1863 with a permit from ...
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Church, Sofia region

The “St. Petka Samardjiiska” (St. Petka of the Saddlers) is one of the few mediaeval churches to have survived in Sofia. It is situated in the subway before the Central Department Store, in the geometrical center of the town plan of the old settlement Serdika and the nowadays capital. It was built on the foundations of an old Roman ...
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Monument, Sofia region

The earliest information from 1515 connects the Kafene bashi (nowadays “Slaveikov” square) with the torment of St. George from Kratovo. There is a legend according to which in the celebrate day in his memory there was a blood at the Kafene bashi square.
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Mountain, Sofia region

The territory of Vitosha nature park has been changed many times and today is 26 606 hectares, which is over 90% of the total mountain. There are two reserves within the park’s territory – Bistrishko branishte and Torfeno branishte. They have been established to preserve in their original state the coniferous forests, the alpine ...
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Church, Sofia region

It is one of the most important and valuable antiquities of exceptional historical and artistic significance. It is situated at the foot of the mountain of Vitosha.
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