Bulgaria’s capital city intrigues and charms me. It seems to be in a state of constant flux, built on layers of history. One minute you are walking on a Roman road, the next staring up at 1950s Stalinist monoliths. Gold-domed cathedrals and churches dominate the vistas along wide boulevards while in side streets elegant villas sit side-by-side with their crumbling, neglected cousins.
Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of the highlights of my latest trip there in a series of posts. You will see some great architectural details, some imposing communist-era monuments and some lively street art. I’ll also take you to a couple of fascinating museums.
For this week’s Monday Walk let me simply take you on a wander through the fascinating city of Sofia. It’s not in truth an actual walk I took there, but rather a blend of several days spent exploring last week. I’ll save some of the main sights for those future posts, while others I have already covered previously following my 2019 visit.
So the focus on today’s ‘walk’ will be life on the streets and in its parks, plus a handful of the architectural highlights.
We’ll start with the view along one of the city’s main thoroughfares for pedestrians, Vitosha Boulevard. It takes its name from the mountain that can be clearly seen to the south.
Let’s walk through my favourite people-watching spot, the City Garden.
The very grand National Theatre is on one side of this small park.
We can grab some street photos elsewhere too.
St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker
One of my favourite buildings in the city is the church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker.
Former Communist Party HQ
The former Communist Party headquarters building offers a complete contrast. It used to be topped with a red star (now on display in the Socialist Art Museum) but today flies the Bulgarian flag and is used as government offices.
Wandering through the side streets we can find all sorts of opportunities for photography, from flea market stalls to kittens, old cars to shiny Harley Davidson motorbikes.
A work in progress?
In places it seems Sofia is still a work in progress, with buildings on many streets in various states of disrepair. These only serve to draw attention to how far it has come and what great architectural gems await future restoration perhaps. Although to be frank, a few of these examples are almost certainly slated for demolition rather than restoration. I’m including a selection of these in part because Terri has offered me the perfect opportunity to do so, linking to her Sunday Stills theme of ‘Dilapidated’.
Sofia at night
Let’s finish our walk with a few night shots.
I last visited Sofia in September 2022; most of these photos are from that visit but a couple are from my earlier 2019 trip