Sofia’s St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a memorial and a symbol of gratitude – the gratitude of the Bulgarian people to the Russian and Bulgarian soldiers who had earned the country its freedom.
The cathedral was built in the early part of the 20th century. The Russian Army had liberated Bulgaria from the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1879, and it was decided that the most fitting tribute to all the brave men, Bulgarian and Russian, who had fought and died for the country’s freedom would be a magnificent cathedral.
The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who was a 13th century Russian prince. He took monastic vows just prior to his death in 1262. It is said that a miracle occurred at his burial, when he supposedly extended his hand for the prayer of absolution. Alexander Nevsky was the patron saint of the Emperor Alexander II of Russia, ruler during the liberation war; he was therefore chosen as patron saint too of the cathedral offered in gratitude for his support.
Inside the cathedral
The interior is in Italian marble of different colours; but the years of smoking candles have taken their toll and the colours are dark and muted. What impressed me most was its grand scale and an atmosphere of genuine reverence, with candle-lighting locals outnumbering tourists.
I had paid the required fee to take photographs inside. I had no idea whether or not that would have permitted me to use flash, and I didn’t care, because I had no intention of using it. For one thing, people were praying inside and it would have been very intrusive. Also, in-camera flash is pretty useless for anything other than a record shot. It flattens the light, distorts colours and destroys atmosphere.
Wherever there is light, one can photograph.Alfred Stieglitz
I make it a rule always to use natural, available light in churches and other places of worship even if flash is permitted, however dark they may be. My photos may sometimes be grainy, may sometimes not be pin sharp; but I hope they convey the experience of being there better than a brighter lit shot might do.
Available light is any damn light that is available!W. Eugene Smith
As always, you can simply scroll through the montage below, or click on any image for a slideshow of larger shots.
Amy has invited us to focus on natural light for this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge.
I visited Sofia in 2019 for a Virtual Tourist Euromeet