The capital of Bulgaria - Sofia - will certainly interest history buffs and long walks. Medieval temples, art and historical museums, monuments to outstanding figures, monasteries in the vicinity of the city - Sofia at first glance seems boring and unremarkable, you just have to walk along its streets, as you will immediately see how much it has to offer its guests. If you plan to stay in Bulgaria for a week or two and Sofia is not the only city where you want to stay, we advise you to think about renting a car in Bulgaria , which will open up new travel options for you in Bulgaria.
Sofia International Airport ( Sofia Airport ) - download the scheme
IATA code: SOF
Location: 5 km from Sofia
Official website: www.sofia-airport.bg/
Information: +359 2937 2211
You can rent a car at Sofia Airport from representatives of the following rental companies: Europcar, Avis, Sixt, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, Choice and Avtojet. Car rental desks are located in the terminal 2 building. Two parking lots are open at the airport - open and closed, parking rates can be found on the airport’s official website.
Aleksander Nevski square
Having rented a car in Sofia, visit the cathedral, designed by the Russian architect Alexander Pomerantsev. The cathedral was erected in honor of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish invaders in 1878 and is named in memory of the Russian saint and outstanding commander Alexander Nevsky. Construction began in 1904 under the guidance of several Russian and Bulgarian architects and was completed by 1908. After Bulgaria entered the First World War in 1915 as part of the Fourth Union (a coalition opposing the Entente - Russia, France and England), the People's Assembly decided to rename the cathedral and name it in honor of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The Holy Synod opposed such a decision, which he regarded as a great sin. After the abdication of the king of Bulgaria - Ferdinand I - from the throne in 1918, The synod appealed to the government with a request to return the cathedral to its former name, which ultimately remained with it. The interior of the cathedral is made of marble, the marble iconostasis, mosaic panels depicting Ferdinand I and his wife Eleanor and the royal throne are especially impressive for tourists.
Sveta Nedelia square, 20 www.sveta-nedelia.org/
The cathedral got its name thanks to the holy martyr Kyriakia of Nicomedia, also known as Holy Week. The first building on the site of a modern church appeared around the 10th century. The cathedral got its current appearance in 1863, having survived an earthquake before it, which increased the period of work on the construction of the building. Entering the cathedral, pay attention to the iconostasis: to the right of it you will see a glass display case covered with velvet - the relics of the Serbian king Stephen II Milutin are stored here. It is believed that they have healing power. And at the southern entrance to the church there is a sign reminding that in 1925 the church was blown up by the communists who wanted to destroy the Bulgarian political and military leaders who were present at the funeral of one general.
Battenberg square 1 www.nationalartgallerybg.org/
The National Gallery of Fine Arts is housed in a former royal palace along with an ethnographic museum. The collection consists of paintings by Bulgarian artists, from the Renaissance to the middle of the 20th century, and also includes sculptures and a collection of icons, which is exhibited in the crypt of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The museum regularly hosts exhibitions of contemporary Bulgarian art, concerts, scientific lectures and seminars. Event poster can be found on the gallery website.
St. Aleksander Nevski square, 19th of February, 1
The museum appeared in 1985 on the basis of the collection of foreign art of the National Art Gallery and is located in the building of the former royal printing house. The museum fund includes about 10 thousand works, including works by eminent masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Berham, Goya, Renoir, Chagall, Picasso, Dali and others. The pride of the gallery is an extensive collection of 20th-century French paintings, about 250 works by Nicholas Roerich, as well as a rich collection of Christian sculptures in the Indian province of Goa.
When you rent a car in Sofia, go to Vrana - the unofficial residence of the Bulgarian monarchs, consisting of a palace, a hunting lodge and a beautiful park with alleys, fountains and a small lake. The royal palace was built in 1912 with the money of Ferdinand I and those 3 million gold francs that the tsar borrowed from Nicholas II. The palace is still closed for visiting, but in the future it is planned to open it to the general public. In the meantime, you can walk through a picturesque park, take a picture of yourself against the background of a palace framed by dense thickets, and see the buildings that have remained from the time of Ferdinand: a hunting lodge (Simeon II, the last monarch of Bulgaria, lives in it), a stable and royal post office.
Perhaps the most impressive attraction of Vitosha Park is the “stone rivers” or “Golden Bridges”. Zlatnite bridge, which is a heap of huge boulders in river valleys, stretching for almost 2 kilometers. In the territory of the park you will find the longest cave in Bulgaria - Dukhlata, the karst spring of Zhivat-Voda, Boyan Lake and many picturesque areas that are so requested to be shot. For lovers of hiking in the mountains, you can’t imagine a better entertainment than visiting Vitosha Park in Sofia. In winter, fans of alpine skiing come here, who are attracted by the developed infrastructure, excellent conditions for skiing and, of course, the views. If you used the car rental service in Sofia, then you can not worry about parking lots, as there are plenty of them.
It’s not for nothing that Vitosha Mountain is called the “Holy Mountain”: 14 monasteries are located on its slopes, one of them is the medieval Dragalev monastery, founded in the middle of the XIV century and has long been considered an important religious and cultural center. So, in the XV century, the largest printing workshop in Bulgaria worked here. The history of the monastery is inextricably linked with the liberation movement against the Turkish invaders: Vasil Levski, the “apostle of freedom”, as he was called in Bulgaria, founded a secret committee here, which included the monks of the monastery. The main temple of the monastery is the Church of Our Lady of Vitoszka, painted with frescoes, many of which date back to the late 15th century. The monastery is only 3 kilometers from Sofia, so you can quickly get to it by rented car.
Another important religious building in the suburbs of Sofia (Boyana village) is the Boyana Church, built in the X century in honor of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and St. Panteleimon. Outwardly, she looks modest and gloomy, which is fully offset by the interior decoration, namely, well-preserved frescoes that reproduce biblical stories and depict the rulers of the era of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. For reasons of preserving the frescoes, shooting in the church is prohibited.
At the foot of the Plana Planina mountains, between the villages of Kokalyan and Zheleznitsa, a small Kokalyan monastery is hidden, which arose here during the reign of Tsar Samuel in the XI century. The monastery consists of a church, two chapels and a bell tower - the monastery is rather modest and secluded, incredibly beautiful natural views are around, just in case you are looking for a quiet place to walk and want to hide from the stream of tourists. The monastery is interesting in that it houses a unique Kokalyan collection - a medieval book with commendable speeches dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel. It is difficult to get to the monastery by public transport, so the best option is to come here in a car rented in Sofia.
I rented a car in Sofia, do not forget to call in the small, but very important and expensive Bulgarian city of Koprivshtitsa. It was founded in the XIV century and was famous as a prosperous trading city, local residents here were actively engaged in cattle breeding, crafts and successfully ran their farms. During the period of Ottoman rule, it continued to develop, since the Turks were not good at trading and handling money, while the locals, on the contrary, coped well with this, so the Turks tried not to interfere in the affairs of the city and provided him with enough freedom. The measured rhythm of the city’s life was disrupted by the events of April 20, 1876 - the so-called April Uprising, which became one of the causes of the Russian-Turkish war. The reason for the uprising was the killing of Turkish police by members of a revolutionary group who defended their leader, Todor Kableshkov. After these events, Kableshkov wrote a letter about the beginning of the uprising - a "bloody letter" written by the blood of a dead policeman - and sent it to neighboring settlements. However, this did not lead to anything good: the uprising was poorly planned, so the Turkish army quickly and brutally crushed it. The city itself was not particularly affected, as it was bought off by the local nobility. The original buildings of the 18th-19th centuries that convey the spirit and mood of a typical Bulgarian town with its bizarre ornaments and mosaics on the walls, tiled roofs and pretty windows with wooden shutters have survived to our days. therefore, he was quickly and brutally crushed by the Turkish army. The city itself was not particularly affected, as it was bought off by the local nobility. The original buildings of the 18th-19th centuries that convey the spirit and mood of a typical Bulgarian town with its bizarre ornaments and mosaics on the walls, tiled roofs and pretty windows with wooden shutters have survived to our days. therefore, he was quickly and brutally crushed by the Turkish army. The city itself was not particularly affected, as it was bought off by the local nobility. The original buildings of the 18th-19th centuries that convey the spirit and mood of a typical Bulgarian town with its bizarre ornaments and mosaics on the walls, tiled roofs and pretty windows with wooden shutters have survived to our days.
Angel Kanchev 30a
A cozy institution, fully justifying its "home" name. The menu offers dishes of Bulgarian and Italian cuisine. The portions are small, but at low prices this is not a problem at all: you can order several dishes and try everything as it should. Visitors praise shrimp, tuna, cheesecake and watermelon smoothie. They bring food in wonderful painted plates, which you just want to take with you. While they will carry the order, do not be too lazy to look at the restaurant's interior: how Made and Home turns old and unremarkable things into entertaining details of the decor inspires creativity.
Tsar Ivan Shishman 12
The interior of the Lavanda restaurant seemed to have descended from the pages of some European decor magazine. The main color is white, which, together with large windows overlooking a quiet courtyard, turns the institution into a kingdom of light and comfort. You won’t find any delights on the menu, everything is quite simple and clear: snacks, light salads, lasagna, several types of pastas, meat and fish dishes with a side dish of vegetables and a couple of desserts. Pay attention to the wine list: the atmosphere of the restaurant has a glass of white or red wine, the selection is large, so there is plenty to choose from.
Tzar Asen 16 http://pastorant.eu/
For the best pasta in Sofia, you need to go to Pastorant, where local chefs try to convey a palette of Italian cuisine flavors, and, it is worth noting, they do it well. The atmosphere inside the restaurant resembles home, the staff is friendly and welcoming, always advises which dish is better to take today. In the bar card you will find a good selection of wines for any budget. By the way, Pastorant serves Bulgarian wine, which can perfectly complement your dish.
Hr.Belchev 16, Gladston 54, 6th Septemvri 41a http://divaka.bg/
For a budget tourist, the Divaka restaurant will be a real discovery. The prices for food and drinks are so pleasing that it is likely that you will not be limited to one visit. The menu is quite large, mainly Bulgarian national cuisine is presented. We recommend ordering cream soup in bread, veal sausages and a glass of homemade wine.
Qnko Sakuzov 17
An interesting bar, referring to the communist past of Bulgaria. As reminders of this page in the history of the country, red stars on tables, posters in the style of those times, retro TVs and radios were used here. The institution is suitable for lunch (be sure to try the chicken wings), and for an evening glass of something strong - for example, brandy - a fruit brandy, popular in the Balkans.
Vitosha boulevard 21
+359 2810 0800 www.lesfleurshotel.com/ double room - from € 105
Boutique hotel on the main shopping street of the city. Spacious rooms with floral design and interesting details in the decor. A big plus is the queen size bed in each room. In the hotel's restaurant you can order an individual menu - for example, diet. If necessary, at the reception you can help pick up excursions or reserve a table in the restaurant.
Todor Alexandrov boulevard 14
+359 2911 9900 www.hotelanel.com/ double room - from € 85
A comfortable hotel in the center of Sofia, offering its visitors not only comfortable accommodation, but also spa services. Indoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna, bathhouse and a wide range of massage and beauty treatments - a first-class vacation with benefits for the body is guaranteed. The interior of the rooms is made in a classic style in a subtle golden-brown color scheme. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine, piano music always sounds in the background, and aromatic coffee is brewed in the lobby bar until late in the evening. If you travel around Sofia in a rented car, then you will be interested in free parking on site.
Ekzarh Jossif 11
+359 2983 6777 www.scottyshotel.eu/ double room - from € 80
Scotty's Boutique Hotel is located in a historic building in the city center. Each room has its own special design and is named after one of the world capitals. If you want to relax after a walk around the city, then you can, for example, use the massage service right in your room. For those who rent a car, paid parking is available nearby (prior reservation is required).
Cherni Vrah boulevard 29
+359 2491 0091 www.magiccastle.bg/ double room - from € 60
Small cozy hotel near the Ivan Vazov National Theater. Nice minimalist rooms, free Wi-Fi and a good restaurant. Guests using rental cars are provided with paid parking (reservation must be made in advance).
Knyaz Boris 193
359 2931 9391 www.hotelfavorit.bg/ double room - from € 59
Nice hotel in a quiet side street of the capital. Spacious, bright rooms with standard amenities, a restaurant with a good menu and a late-night bar. At the reception you can book excursions in Sofia and its environs, as well as arrange car rental.
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© Ellina Rudenko, 2016