Until this stage, we have read the facades and stories of many houses here in Sofia. Now, the second half awaits us with a series of representative buildings of the capital. At this point we can stop to look at the lovely dome of the Civic Society and the “bulbs” of the Russian Church. And as we mentioned, according to individual wishes, you can continue on the route or postpone the second half next-coming day.
We return to Moskovska Street and some of the first buildings of Sofia, built after 1878. The stairs on Budapest Street, which have existed since the twenties of the last century, reveal the amazing crown of the residential building between Budapest and Dondukov Blvd. And another staircase – this time on MalkoTarnovo Street, hidden between the two high-raised modernist residential buildings of the 30s. We climb the stairs and reach the place where the clock tower of Sofia denoted the time during the Ottoman era. Here is one of the brilliant symbols of continuity between the old and the new Sofia – the Royal Palace, which indeed is transformed and redesigned Ottoman Konak (prison). We head to the Largo and the unique combination of Roman building and a monumental socialist complex. One after another, we look at significant Sofia churches from different periods. Then we are into the delicate charm of Lege Street, which has been named after French consul Leander Lege since 1878 because he protected Sofia from burning in the days before the liberation of the town.
On this central street we have examples of what is a continuity of development, of upgrading the old or of destroying it in the name of the new. From Knyaz Alexander I Street we enter the city garden with the popular fountain, which have been there since 1975. We now see the National Theater, erected with the majesty of an ancient temple, as well as the building of Baron Gendovich, designed by Nikola Lazarov to be the tallest building in Sofia In 1914. We surround the theatre to look around it, go along past the former Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Central Cooperative Bank and then reach the house of most famous national poet Ivan Vazov. The two-storey building witnessed Ivan Vazov’s speech of November 27, 1919, to the many Sofia citizens who sought the wisdom of the poet after the Bulgarian crash during the First World War. We continue to the Crystal Garden and 6 September Street with the “Vegetarian” residential building, erected in 1929, next to a stylish house from 1897, owned by the distinguished public figure Dimitar Tonchev.
It is time to go to Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd and Embassies of Italy and Austria, which were actually exchanged after the First World War, to continue along the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and stop at the National Assembly Square. One architectural masterpiece of the Austrian Friedrich Grunnanger (The House of Yablanski) and the building of the Sofia University still remain – proof that the buildings can change in time, but with respect to the builders (and investors) of the previous generations. This is the end of the route, which helped us to see the architectural beauty of many buildings as a detail and as part of the Neoclassical style (from the Liberation to 1890), the Secession (about 1890-1920), the transitional years between the Secession and Modernism from the 30s and 40s, the Stalin Baroque and even the architectural brutalism. We went through many curious personal fates and dramatic years for Bulgaria. After this walk, we believe that the spirit of Sofia can inspire affection, love and responsibility towards the Bulgarian capital.