St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia

The capital of Bulgaria is home to one of the most magnificent temples of the Eastern Orthodox world. The St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia is the city’s most famous tourist site with its golden domes and Neo-Byzantine architecture.

It took 30 years for the temple to be built – between 1882 and 1912. Its purpose is to honor the Russian soldiers who lost their lives in the war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in 1877 – 1878. This war won Bulgaria’s independence from the Turks and is referred to as the War of Liberation.

The plans for the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia were changed few times by different Russian architects and the temple was built as a cross-domed basilica. The central dome is 45 meters high and the highest point of the bell tower is 57 meters. The tower contains the heaviest bell in and Eastern Orthodox temple – 12 tons. The other 11 bells in the tower have a total weight of 11 tons.

The exterior is dominated by the golden domes which glitter in the sun and can be seen from far away. The overall area covered by the precious metal is 700 square meters. Small and very delicate square pieces of golden film are applied with great skill. Only the dome of the bell tower contains 25 000 such pieces. The gold amounts to more than eight kilograms and the cover is so delicate that it needs to be checked and restored on regular basis.

 The lavish interior murals took a total of 49 painters to complete – 32 Russians, 16 Bulgarians and 1 Czech. The materials used for decoration were brought from all over the world including marble from Italy, Brazilian onyx and Indian alabaster. The metal gates were made in Munich and the mosaics came from Venice.  The main iconostasis is 6 meters high, contains 19 icons and is made of marble – white, yellow, green and red.

The temple contains relics of its patron saint – Alexander Nevski. He was a Russian prince who was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church for his military achievements. St. Alexander Nevski Was the patron saint of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, who won the war against the Ottoman Empire.

The St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia is one of Bulgaria’s most famous tourist sites visited by many people every day. It has no entrance fee. The temple is always open for visitors and is a fully functioning Eastern Orthodox Church. For everyone interested in religious art there is a museum in the crypt which contains more than 300 items, mostly icons from IX to XIX century.

A visit to St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral is part of our Sofia in a Day Tour.

Bulgarian Food Evening in UK

A few weeks ago, on the 16th of March 2015 we organised a Bulgarian Food Evening to celebrate the new tourist season. Our hosts from Dorset in the United Kingdom made us and our guests from far and wide feel at home. Specially prepared traditional Bulgarian foods were presented to the guests accompanied by drinks brought all the way from Bulgaria!

Among the guest’s favourite dishes were the rose shaped homemade bread, patatnik – a traditional Rhodope Mountains dish made of potatoes, banitsa – a pastry dish with white Bulgarian brine cheese and a beautifully presented shopska salad made of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, spring onions and cheese. The first thing to go from the table were the grilled courgettes with a very distinctive sauce made of yoghurt, dill and garlic. The guests also enjoyed a selection of traditional flat sausages like Lukanka and Sudzhuk as well as a selection of Bulgarian Cheese.

The variety of Bulgarian drinks were also well appreciated and expectedly the top position was occupied by the selection of Bulgarian wines. The season dictated the choice of mostly red ones – Merlo, Cabernet and the unique Bulgarian Mavrud that can be produced only in the southern part of the country because of the mild winter and hot long sunny summer. In addition our guests were treated with homemade Rakia from the region of Melnik – an alcohol beverage from the brandy family with mild taste and a warming effect. The drink challenge of the evening was called Boza – a sweet thick beige colour drink made from fermented baked wheat. Everyone brave enough to try it was quite surprised that we usually have it for breakfast. You can read more about Bulgarian food on our Culture page.

The presentation evening gave an insight into many of the activities we run here at Bulgarian Adventure tours from our day trips to week long tours, adventures and the relaxing SPA holidays. The presentation provoked many questions varying from practical issues like the currency in Bulgaria and the exchange rates, weather, flights and transport to a very specific topics like the history of Bulgaria, Folklore festivals and the hot mineral springs.

It was a successful evening and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as well as the Bulgarian food. Thank you to everyone who came, we cannot wait to show you all the wonders of Bulgaria this season and spread the word even further!