The little palace of Angelo Kuyumdjiyski
Splendid salons with delicate carvings and marble fireplaces, a portrait of Leander Lege along with the mysterious story of Angelo Kuyumdjiyski – we can find all this at the residence of the Ambassador of France on 27 Oborishte Street. Thanks to the hospitality of Her Excellency Ambassador Florence Robine and the kind reception of Embassy of France in Bulgaria we have the opportunity to visit one of Sofia most aristocratic houses.
The residence of the Ambassador of France on 27 Oborishte Street
The first owner of the building was the mysterious Angelo Kuyumdjiyski who left colorful legends, a few different names but not a single photo of himself. His story began in Samokov, where he was born by the name Rahamim at the end of the 19th century. Still a little child he hinted his business future when started selling roasted pumpkin seeds on the streets of his hometown. Over the coming decades, already known as Angelo or Angel, he multiplied this initial capital in such a way that he became one of the richest Bulgarians before World War II.
Тhe main entrance of the building
After graduating in law at the Sorbonne in Paris, Kuyumdjiyski became a shareholder in different enterprises, a tobacco trader (there are speculations that he was a prototype of Boris Morev from the famous Bulgarian novel Tobacco) and a banker. His relations with France remained strong as his bank was named French-Belgian Bank for Bulgaria (later French-Belgian Bank and Balkan Bank, and finally French-Bulgarian Bank), and its representative building still can be seen on 17 Lege Street. He also created a Foundation for Supporting Poor Students with a remarkable capital of BGN 7,000,000. Whether he financed the Communists in Bulgaria, whether he was trading with Nazi companies from Germany, or whether he was a reconnaissance officer to the US government are only a few of the the mysteries of his spectacular life.
The vast vestibule in four frames
And with all the stories and legends, it is no surprise that Kuyumdjiyski had his rivals too. In 1931, he even published a special edition to challenge, as he called them, “the most unworthy of teases … of lovers of anonymous dirt.” He responded with specific documents to a series of “all those slanders and insinuations,” including that he was speculating with the Bulgarian lev after World War I, he was looting businesses and even planned the liquidation of the famous Sofia Bank. On the cover of this publication, the author himself simply referred as A. Kuyumdjiyski…
A view from the vestibule to one of the large salons
His small palace on Oborishte Street was completed in 1929 by the design of architects Todor Zlatev and Dimitar Koev. For Angelo’s house, they relied on classic design. From the street we can see a symmetrical facade with a solid cornice and a stylish mansard with metal cladding. The main entrance is from the east and beams even more classicism because of the twin columns on either side of the wooden gate. From here, we can enter a large anteroom, which prepares us for the impressive vestibule.