Urban inspirations we pass by – the domes of Sofia (second part)

“Urban inspirations we pass by” is a rubric for the architectural elements and details around us. This time, we will once again look up to the domes of Sofia

With the first part of that publication we revealed some of the most impressive buildings in Sofia – the old Imperial Hotel, the Sofia Bank and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, together with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. We are now looking at more fascinating buildings and their domes – erected to spread beauty and to remind us of the times when our state and our entrepreneurs created our cultural heritage.

The old Palace of Sofia Regional administration
There is one building in Sofia, which seems to be from another place and takes us away from our familiar Sofia. Whether because it is less known by the National Theater, whether because it is not built on Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., the building of the old Palace of Sofia Regional administration is like an exciting surprise from Hristo Botev Boulevard. The two exquisite towers and the dome create the unique image of the building, which may seem like an unreal vision when we see it for the first time. The dome is erected upon ellipse and is “hidden” behind a curved pediment with a clock (added later) and a garland of entangled leaves, flowers and fruits. The curved façade allows us to have different but always exciting points of view while standing opposite the main entrance or approaching from the boulevard. All this reveals the style of “Architect of Sofia” – Nikola Lazarov, who participated with two projects in the competition for the building and won … first and second prize. This has happened before the long wars for national unification of Bulgaria, and the construction started only in 1920. The majority of the work was led by architect Ilia Popov until the final completion of the building in 1924 (or 1927) year – initially assistant of Lazarov but took his leading role due to a conflict between the owners of the building and the leading architect.

Министерство на земеделието

Civic-insurance company
The construction of the old Civic-insurance company is a story about expensive materials, a large number of subcontractors, fines in case of poor performance, but above all about the famous architectural trio of architects Georgi Fingov, Dimo Nichev and Nikola Yurukov. Unfortunately, architect Yurukov was killed (find out more here) three years before the completion of the building in 1926. The impacting dome rises sharply and has an octagonal plan. The decoration of the metal shell follows the eight-ribbed layout, aimed at the massive tower with its small “dome” and a spire. But the impact of the dome does not end here – its most important place is marked with a clock placed under the sculptural figures of a working mother and her two children, created by Toma Deliradev.

Чиновническо-застрахователно дружество

The Russian church
The Civic-Insurance Company’s dome is exciting in its own, but even more exciting when creating that beautiful contrast to the elegant “bulbs” of the Russian Church. The five “bulbs” and the big dome of the insurance company are one of the best postcards of Sofia. The church dedicated to St. Nicholas was completed on the project of the Russian architect Mikhail Preobrazhenski in 1912 and reflects the traditions of the Russian architecture. The church is unique and because of one more fact – it is the only one in Sofia, whose main entrance is located to the south. The property for the church was of a small size, and on the place of today’s garden there was another property. This probably implied a compact solution (an altar to the east and an entrance from the south) with a direct connection to the boulevard.

Руска църква

The building of Baron Hristo Gendovich
What if you decide to build your own building as one of the highest in the city and right next to the National Theater? This was exactly what Baron Hristo Gendovich did in 1914. He was given the title of Baron by Russian Emperor Alexander II for merit during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. His profitable building with seven commercial and residential floors was completed more than a century ago with a height that was really bold for its time. The bold idea of ​​such a building and in such a place was entrusted to one of our most significant creators of beautiful architecture – Nikola Lazarov. His original project included two identical domes, but in the end only one of the corners of the building was underlined with a dome. Beneath it, two bizarre pediments are formed one after the other – the first one is semi-circular in shape and the lower is formed like a cut triangle. And just below the second is the mysterious smile of Medusa.

Зданието на барон Христо Гендович

The Old Central Cooperative Bank
The next amazing dome can be seen in the building of the old Central Cooperative Bank of Rakovska Street. The dome is the result of its build-up and upgrading in the mid-20s of the 20th century. The story about the extension of the building is curious – it is the work of the architect Georgi Fingov, but his project has been criticized by architect Nikola Lazarov. According to Lazarov, the new architectural decision has taken away from the harmony of the bank, created previously by him in 1910. The creative contradictions between the two well-known architects add an additional touch to the historical value of the building and it remains among the banking “palaces” of Sofia. The dome here is distinguished by the sculptural composition of three human figures that together support the globe and are a symbol of cooperation.

Старата централна кооперативна банка

It’s worth looking up, don’t you think? 🙂

All sources of information used by historicalroutes.bg,  are shown here – look up the section “How did we describe the route?”