Last week I published 24 hours in Sofia: Bulgaria’s capital (Part I) which you can read here. This week I share with you part II and I hope you enjoy it.
Art Gallery in Sofia
Sofia’s National Art Gallery is Bulgaria’s national gallery and houses over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art. The palace was built for the Prince Alexander of Battenberg, the first monarch of Bulgaria after the liberation. Entrance is 6 lv.
The Antiques and Flea Market
Alexander Nevsky Flea Market is an informal antiques/flea market. It’s located on the same square as Alexander Nevsky cathedral and Sveta Sofia church. There can be found lots of antiques, or at least supposed antiques, old cameras, jewelry, Russian dolls, coins and medals, hand knitted socks, amateurish art and more. On the market are no fixed prices and you are supposed to bargain.
Public transport in Sofia
Sofia is very well connected by trams and busses. There are some new trams and busses, but most of them are quite old and kinda remind me of the trams and busses back in the days (like 20 years ago or something) in Amsterdam. I had such a nostalgic feeling every time I saw them. Tickets are 1.60 lv and can be bought direct from the driver. Just make sure you have the right change because the drivers often don’t have it.
Public transport is easy and cheap. And though this is a great way to explore the city, almost all highlights are in walking distance. Walking is very doable if you have only 24 hours in Sofia. Just make sure you’ll be careful as not all sidewalks are in good condition. I personally found it quite dangerous, especially with the snow and glaze everywhere.
Central Railway Station
The Central Railway Station in Sofia is the largest one in the country. The original building was opened in 1888, but was completely renovated in 2015-2016. Both international and domestic terminals can be found here and tickets can be bought directly inside the station.
Monuments & Statues can be found through the whole city.
‘Bulgaria, they died for you,
you was the one worthy for them, and
they were worthy of you, Motherland’
The Monument to the Unknown Warrior features an eternal flame and commemorates the hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian soldiers who died in wars defending their homeland.
One of the oldest mosques of Europe
Unfortunately I didn’t visit the Banya Bashi Mosque inside, because it was prayer time when we arrived. Okay, and because Nevzat was so ‘tired’ from visiting churches and mosques that day. He didn’t want me to write that down here, but I just did anyway. Sorry ask =) Anyway, I hope we’ll visit it one day because it’s one of the oldest mosques of Europe and a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria.
Churches in Sofia
The Church of St Petka of the Saddlers is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church, dedicated to Martyr Petka Ikoniyska, an 11th century Bulgarian saint. It is a small one-naved building partially dug into the ground and built on the remains of a Roman cult building. Entrance is free, but a small ‘admission donation’ is requested.
The oldest church and the oldest building in Sofia is the Church of St. George, an Early Christian red brick rotunda. It’s located several meters under the contemporary ground level and is part of a larger archaeological complex of archaeological monuments and ancient ruins.
The impressive Presidency building where the Bulgarian president has his official chambers, was built in the mid 1950s as part of the ‘Largo’ complex.
The St Nedelya Church, also know as the Holy Sunday Church, is an Eastern Orthodox church, designed by the famous Bulgarian architectural team Vasilyov-Tsolov. Its inside is absolutely stunning, but unfortunately you’re not allowed to take pictures. Entrance is free of charge.
The Central Mineral Baths was built in the early 20th century near the former Turkish bath and was used as the city’s public baths until 1986. It was originally designed by Petko Momchilov and Friedrich Grünanger. Since September 2015 it accommodates the Museum of Sofia history that exhibits from 6000 BC to present day. Entrance fee is 6 lv.