One of the most well-known landmarks in Sofia, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built to commemorate the 200,000 Russian soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War, fighting for Bulgaria’s independence. Completed in 1924, it was named after a medieval Russian ruler, Prince Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod, and modeled after Russian neo-Byzantine churches.
The exterior of the cathedral is made of pale Bulgarian limestone, and it is topped with gold-plated domes. Inside, you will find hundreds of flickering candles illuminating a decadent interior. Look for the Mosaic of Christ, Tsar Ferdinand’s throne, the iconostasis made of marble, onyx and alabaster and the many frescoes covering the church’s dome. Head down to the crypt to visit the cathedral’s Icon gallery, which features icons from 12th through 19th centuries and boasts the most impressive collection of religious art in Bulgaria.
The three historic buildings that make up the medieval Bulgarian Orthodox icon known as Boyana Church have been attracting visitors for over a hundred years. Each building was constructed in a distinctly different architectural style reflective of the time, taste and period it was created, making a visit to this famous landmark a truly unique experience.
The eastern church, Boyana’s oldest section, is one of the smallest, while the second section, built in the mid-13 century, is a two-floor wonder with tombs, semi-cylindrical vault and quiet family chapel. The final section of the church, which wasn’t built until the 19th century, showcases some of the most contemporary designs. Travelers agree that the architecture and history make Boyana Church a destination, but it’s the 89 frescos with 240 human images painstakingly painted onto interior walls that have placed Boyana at the intersection of religion and art in Bulgaria.
Also known as the Tsentralni Hali, Sofia’s Central Market Hall was originally built in 1909 and by the 1940s, featured 170 shops and stalls. Designed in a neo-Renaissance style with neo-Byzantine and neo-Baroque elements, it is considered the best work of architect Naum Torbov and its façade is known for its relief of the Sofia coat of arms. It closed in 1988 to undergo a lengthy renovation, eventually reopening in 2000, and is now one of the busiest places in Sofia. With three floors of shopping and cafes, the Central Market Hall is certainly the best place for indoor food shopping in Sofia.On the ground floor, you will find stalls selling fruits, vegetables, pastries, wine and cheese, while on the second floor, there is an inexpensive food court and more shops, including clothing stores and jewelry shops. The Hall is a great place to stock up on Bulgarian wine and spirits and can also fulfill traveler’s practical needs; there is a post office, pharmacy, bank and multiple ATMs.