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The Complete Bucket List for a Sojourn in Sofia, Bulgaria

Sonali Pimpale Jun 10, 2019
Nestled at the foot of the Vitosha mountain, the capital of Bulgaria stands witness to over 2000 years of Greek, Roman, Turkish, and Soviet culture. With such a rich history, and sublime natural beauty, there is no dearth of things to do in Sofia.

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Commune with God at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the crowning glory of Sofia.

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The Neo-Byzantine style cathedral is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. It is built in honor of the valiant Russian soldiers who laid down their lives for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire in the Russo – Turkish war of 1877-1878.

Admire the Sofia Synagogue

The synagogue was constructed in the early 1900s for the Sephardic Jews of Bulgaria.
The largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe, this titanic building can accommodate over 1000 people, and houses a museum devoted to the Jewish history of Bulgaria. The primary attraction is the permanent exhibition related to the sequence of events in World War II when Bulgaria, in spite of being a German ally, saved the lives of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews.

Wonder at St George Rotunda

The quaint, brick red, Roman-constructed building is a relic of Sofia dating all the way back to the 4th century. Still standing proud and unscathed, the oldest building in Sofia has stood the test of time.
The church is singled out for its exquisite frescoes from the medieval times. These frescoes were lost to the public eye for a long time when they were painted over by the Ottomans, as the church was turned into a mosque in the 1600s. They were unearthed and restored in the 1990s.

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Go Up the Vitosha Mountain

Sofia is thought to be the only European capital with a massive mountain so close to the heart of the city. Easily accessible by public transport and cars, Vitosha is the go-to spot for skiing and hiking.
If you are not that fond of outdoor exertions, you can simply go up to the Kopitoto, the Vitosha TV Tower, for a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Bulgaria’s capital. Vitosha is famous for its mountain ski resort, Aleko, and the 'stone rivers', huge boulders that are strewn across the mountain slope.

Explore the National Historical Museum

Housed in the former stately abode of the dictator Todor Zhivkov, the National Historical Museum is the largest museum in Bulgaria. Albeit the museum has a massive collection of over 650,000 objects, only 10% of them are on permanent display for the public. The artifacts range from rare treasures from the early ages to souvenirs from the present times.

Relax in Borisova Gradina

Sofia boasts of numerous parks and wooded areas, but the city’s oldest park has a charm like no other. Developed in the 19th century after the Bulgarian Revival, the park has passed under the hands of three illustrious garderners from Switzerland, Alsace and Bulgaria respectively.
Dotted with attractive statues and beautiful flowerbeds, the park is the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon. If you happen to be in Sofia in summertime, make sure to enjoy a free concert in the evenings.

Ramble Along Vitosha Boulevard

One of the main streets in the city, Vitosha Boulevard is sprinkled with countless shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. Shop, drink, and eat heartily in the charming street, with a stunning view of the mountain in the background.

Look Upon the Ruins of Serdica Amphitheater

The ancient Roman amphitheater was only discovered in 2004 during an excavation for the construction of a hotel. The amphitheater, built on top of a Roman theater in the 3rd-4th century, has hosted innumerable clashes between gladiators and fearsome beasts.
The ruins of this colossal amphitheater have been incorporated into the design of the Arena di Serdica hotel. The hotel has a specially designed gallery, from where you are free to see the ruins.

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Be Impressed by the Ivan Vazov National Theater

The celebrated Viennese architects Helmer and Fellner constructed this lavish theater in 1906.

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Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful buildings in Sofia and renowned for its drama productions, the massive theater’s facade stamped its presence on the Bulgarian 50 levs banknote in 1999 and 2006.
Other attractions of Sofia include the Banya Bashi Mosque, the only mosque in Sofia; the Boyana Church, a medieval Orthodox Church; and the National Institute of Archaeology. Of course, don’t forget to tickle your taste buds with the delectable local cuisine including Banitsa, Moussaka, Bob Chorba, Shopska Salad, and Tarator.