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Stunning but accessible waterfall near Sofia offering breathtaking views and hiking opportunities to the outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Bovska Skaklya is one of the highest waterfalls in Bulgaria. It cascades down the vertical cliffs of one of the numerous deep valleys bringing its waters down to Iskar River flowing north through the Balkan Mountains in its magnificent gorge. The highest fall is an 85 meters sheer drop followed by several smaller ones which accumulate to an amazing overall of 140 meters of falling water. The waterfall is most impressive in the spring when the melting snow generates large amounts of water running down every mountain stream. During the hot summer months the waterfall can dry up completely only to return with the autumn rains. If the winter is cold, the water can freeze in beautiful shapes making the whole area quiet and eerie without the constant sound of the falling waters.
Situated in the deeply cut Iskar gorge, only an hour away from the centre of Sofia, Skaklya waterfall is one of the most accessible natural phenomenons of such proportions in the region. A steep but very well made and secure trail leads up to the bottom of the waterfall and further on to its very top. From here one can see deep into the river gorges and above the clouds towards the other parts of Western Balkan Mountains. A small village, called Zasele, is a good spot for a break and little chat with the locals. There are many legends about this region and you can hear about medieval knights, rebels and their hidden treasures, and brave local heroes.
You could also hear about one of the legends of the Bulgarian literature – the poet, writer and novelist Ivan Vazov (1850 – 1921). He spent two years of his life in a nearby village and the waterfall was one of his favourite spots in the region. The trail that leads to the waterfall is named after him and the story goes that he met some of the prototypes for his characters in this region.
Should you wish to explore beyond the city streets and sights, Bovska Skaklya is an amazing opportunity to visit a stunning waterfall near Sofia. Skaklya waterfall is the highlight of our Iskar Gorge Day Hike from 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.