Tuesday, 22 May 2012

SOFIA -- CAPITAL OF BULGARIA


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SOFIA
Sofia the capital of Bulgaria is over 4000 years old. Since the town lies on the road from Constantinople to Belgrade it developed into an important trading settlement. It was also under constant attack.  Byzantines, Persians, Macedonians and, of course, also the Romans attack, conquered and left its mark of their culture.
During the Russian occupation the west didn't hear or see a lot of the beauty of Sofia and Bulgaria on a whole. When I went there first, a few years ago, you could still see the neglect of its occupation. However, the people are determined to bring up their city to its former glory. New apartment building, offices, business premises and shopping malls springing up all over the town, bringing new pride to its people.

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Just behind the Presidency stands a fascinating round red-brick-built Church dating back to the 4th century. It is the oldest preserved building in the city. It is called RONTANDA OF ST. GEORGE. The frescoes can still be seen in three layers; the earliest dating back to the 10th century


RONTANDA OF ST. GEORGE

Opposite the Presidency you will find the ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, housed in the former BUYUK (Big) MOSQUE dating from 1494. It is the oldest museum in Bulgaria. On display is the STELA OF ANAXANDER. A 6th century BC gravestone from the ancient Greek colony of Apollonia (now Sozopol - Black Sea coast). The whole exhibition dates from pre-history through to the antiquity and middle ages periods. A very remarkable number of Thracian Gold and 14th century Valchitran Gold Treasure. The original mosaic floor from St. Sofia Church from the 14th century.
Further along the Battenberg Square and Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd you find the National Art Gallery and the Russian Church St. Nikolai. It is a small but beautiful church with five golden onion domes. Built in 1912-1914 and named after St. Nikolai the miracle worker. Many Bulgarians place their wishes, written on a piece of paper, into the sarcophagus of Bishop Serafin, who is recognized as a saint.


RUSSIAN CHURCH ST .NIKOLAI

Next there is St Sofia Church. It was built in the 14th century during the reign of the Byzantine Emporer Justanian. He also renamed the city Sofia.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, next to the St. Sofia Church, was built from 1882-1912 in honour of St. Alexander Nevski. A Russian Tsar and patron saint of Tsar Alexander II. It is one of the finest buildings on the Balkans with its magnificent gold-domed roof. The cathedral was built involving artists and craftsmen from six countries. It is 76 m long, 53 m wide, has five aisle and three altars. The cathedral is decorated with 300 dramatic murals and splendid Venetian mosaics. The crypt houses an exceptional collection of the most valuable icons.

ALEXANDER NEVSKY CATHEDRAL

The Presidency houses the administrative quarters of Bulgaria's president. Beautiful attired guards of honour stand at the outside entrance. The changing of the guards of honour is once every hour.
For shopaholics there is no better place than the Vitosha Boulevard, the Sofia Mall and City Center Sofia. You will find there any famous name from the West as well Bulgarian designer shops and household goods at bargain prices. In the shopping centres there is a food area with lots of various foods, such as Bulgarian dishes, Pizza, and KFC at very reasonable prices.
In Sofia you will find an unbelievable variety of Fish, Bulgarian and Western Restaurants. The Bulgarian dishes are recommendable to try it. They are very tasty. All the menus are in two languages - Bulgarian and English. The service is friendly and helpful.
ONE WORD OF WARNING - when you arrive at the airport do only use yellow cabs with blue 'OK' written on it. They have the correct price which is very low. The taxi stand is just outside the airport-building. Any other taxi and you will get ripped off. The same also goes when you go back to the airport asked the reception to call a yellow taxi with 'OK' written on it.
FINALLY - Sofia is a remarkable city in every way. It has many tourist attraction satisfying any taste and interest. For families it has many parks and a zoo. It is really worthwhile to spend a holiday there.  From the hotel you can book many excursions which are low priced and of great interests.Top of Form
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