The historical route of Sofia (1 part)


Join us at the Historical Routes of Sofia for a walk through some intriguing streets, the facades of splendid buildings and stories about them. This is a guide to familiar, unknown or forgotten places that keep the spirit of Sofia and teach us its “colorful” story.

We begin from Orlov most as a symbolic gate of Sofia since it was declared the new Bulgarian capital. After that, we continue on the charming street San Stefano, which is named after the place where the treaty of Bulgarian Liberation was signed. Along that passage we hear different stores, related to the construction of the new capital, including that one about the famous brewery of Prosek brothers. We turn on the quiet Sheinovo Street to reach the crossroad of Vasil Aprilov and Shipka, where the spot with works of one among the greatest architects of the capital, Georgi Fingov, is located. While we point out the years of the buildings, we also recall important current events – the assassination of the mayor, who led the big urban renewal of the pre-liberated Sofia or the moment when the capital had acquired its yellow pavement. Next are the wonderful streets Shipka, Veliko Tarnovo and Oborishte, formed in the end of XIX century to be the expression of the new European epoch of the city. Shipka Street is characterized by the unique contrast between a number of elegant secession buildings and the “brutal” building of the Russian Cultural and Information Center (designed in the style of architectural brutalism). The street hosts the story of the brilliant Professor Ivan Shishmanov, too. At Veliko Tarnovo Street we see a house in typical Alpian architecture. Oborishte Street is greeting us with a series of rich residences from the end of the 20s of the XX century. One of them belonged to Angelo Kuyumdjiiski, an adventure figure who was born in Samokov and lived in New York. At that point Sofia reached population of 300 000 people. We cross the gardens of the Doctor’s Monument and the National Library to reach the monument of the national hero Vasil Levski. We head towards the late XIX century city skirts, where the royal stables had already been erected with their elegant appearance. On the opposite side of Knyaz Alexander Dondukov Blvd, we notice another urban contrast of colorful Sofia – Dr. Funk’s elegant house, where the great banker and patriot Atanas Burov was tenant, and the huge residential building with the architecture of Stalinist communism (Stalin Baroque). On Danube Street we enter another aristocratic neighbourhood, where we celebrate the art of arch. Nikola Lazarov, who received the nickname “Architect of Sofia”. We will also enjoy the architectural masterpiece of two foreigners who chose Sofia as their home. Moskovska Street follows with its abundance of history, culture and architecture. Lets explore the intersection between Moskovska and Georgi S. Rakovski (Nikolay Gyaurov square) – one of the sacred places of Sofia. It marks one of the geodesic points used in the planning of the Roman Serdika – the so-called Tumulus (by arch. Hristo Genchev). We end the first half of our journey with the garden enclosed by the Military Club, the Russian Church and the old Civic insurance company – one of the most beautiful and saturated with the “spirit of Sofia” places. (To be continued…)

Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL