THE CITY OF A THOUSAND FACES – SOFIA

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THE CITY OF A THOUSAND FACES – SOFIA

VELINGRAD – SOFIA, THE CAPITAL OF BULGARIA – VELINGRAD

Price

to 2 3 4 5+ persons
Per person BGN 180 132 110 95
Per person EUR 92 62 57 49

 

The price include: Air-conditioned VAN, Guide, lunch, entrance fees

 

BEGINNING – 8, 30 from your hotel in Velingrad

SOFÍA

Sofia is not only the capital of Bulgaria, but also the heart of the state. The city is the cultural, administrative, financial and industrial center. Its motto is “Grows, but does not get old” – and it really is. Sofia is the largest city in the country, located at the foot of the mountain Vitosha – Nature Reserve protected by UNESCO.

Sofia was founded three thousand years ago by the ancient Thracian tribe “Serdi”, and was known as Sérdica until the beginning of the ninth century. The reasons, for which these lands have been populated, were the hot springs that abound in the Sofia Field. Nowadays in the center of the city there is also curative mineral water. At the time of the Roman Empire Sérdica was the center of the Roman province The Lower Dacia. Towers, fortress walls, administrative and religious buildings were built. Emperor Konstantin the Great called it “My Rome”. In 809 Khan Krum added it to the territories of Bulgaria.

Sophia bears the name of the ancient cathedral “Saint Sophia” or “Holy Wisdom of God” (one of the names of the young Jesus Christ).

In the Middle Ages, until the fall of Bulgaria under the Ottoman yoke in 1393, the city grew considerably. Many public buildings and new churches were built; the most famous is the Boyana church. Among the documents of the Ottoman conquerors of that time, the city is described as incredibly beautiful, but that does not prevent them to change radically its appearance. Sofia becomes an important crossroads of the Balkans and acquires the importance of a big commercial center.

In 1878 Sofia is liberated from the Ottoman yoke. Due to its strategic and favorable location is proclaimed the capital of Bulgaria. Gradually  begins to obtain a European aspect.

Nowadays in Sofia many architectural changes are made. It becomes a modern and cosmopolitan European city – dynamic, static, historical and tourist.

In the capital there are also numerous galleries and museums. The National Museum of History is the largest museum in Bulgaria and among the largest in Europe. The National Ethnographic Museum and the National Art Gallery are located in the center of the city, in the building of the old Royal Palace. The National Museum of Natural History, founded in 1889, is the richest natural history museum on the Balkans. Other museums include the National Museum of Foreign Art, the National Museum of Military History, the Institute and Archaeological Museum, the Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Socialist Art.

Shopping opportunities are many and varied – in Sofia are concentrated some of the largest shopping malls in the Balkans.

THE MEMORIAL TEMPLE “ALEXANDER NEVSKI”

After entering Sofia we will pass alongside the following points of reference:

Bridge of the Eagles

Monument of the Soviet Army

University of Sofia ¨Sveti Kliment Ohridski¨ (“St. Clement of Ohrid”)

National Library ¨Sveti Kiril and Metodiy¨ (“St. Kiril I Metodiy”)

The monument of Vasil Levski

Square 500

Basilica “Sveta (St.) Sofia”

We shall arrive at about 10.30 to the “Alexander Nevsky” Square. We will visit the Patriarchal Cathedral ¨Sveti (St.) Alexander Nevsky¨ – one of the most famous memorability of Sofia and its symbol.

The decision to “build a monument, dedicated to the noble action of Liberation, in which the blood of the liberators mingled with the blood of the liberated” was taken in 1879. Knyaz Alexander addressed an appeal to the Bulgarians and the Temple was raised with donations from the population. This is the largest temple on the entire Balkan peninsula. It was built in memory of the 200,000 soldiers who gave their lives for the liberation of the Bulgarian people from the Ottoman yoke during the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878). Therefore, it is a memorial-temple. It is dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky, the patron of the Russian armies during the war.

For its size and decoration, for its architecture and monumentality, today the memorial temple “Sveti Alexander Nevsky” is one of the most famous monuments of this type around the world. Various architectural forms have been used; many details of artistic sculpture and a great variety of techniques and materials have been applied. Images and scenes in the temple are a peculiar anthology of Slavic orthodoxy. Together with the Bulgarian saints and martyrs are painted the images of Russian, Serbian and other Slavic saints and kings. The idea of ​​gratitude to the Russian Orthodox nation has become an apotheosis of the orthodox unity of all Slavs.

PANORAMIC BUS TOUR OF THE SOFIA CENTER

We continue with a panoramic bus tour of the center of Sofia, going through the following points of reference:

National Assembly

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Monument to the Tsar Liberator

Russian Church

Military Club

Royal Palace – National Art Gallery

Square “Knyaz Alexander Battenberg”

National Bank of Bulgaria

Archeological Museum

Presidency

Minister council

The church “Sveta Petka”

The monument of Sofia

Mosque “Banya Bashi”

Central Covered Market

Central Mineral Bath – Sofia Museum

Bridge of the lions

The church “Sveta (St.) Nedelya”

Palace of Justice

Bul. “Hristo Botev”

The Russian Monument Square

LUNCH

From the Russian Monument  Square we go to the natural park Vitosha mountain. There we will eat at the traditional attraction restaurant Boyansko hanche.

BOYANA CHURCH

After lunch we will visit Boyana Church, located in the Boyana district, at the foot of Vitosha mountain. It is one of the cultural symbols of Bulgaria and in 1979 has been included in the UNESCO List of cultural and natural heritage of humanity as a cultural monument.

The Boyana church is a two-story temple. It refers to two-story church-sepulchers; The lower floor meant to be crypt and the upper floor – family chapel. The earliest construction period is from the late 10th century – early 11th century. It expands with the construction of the major part in the 13th century, during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom of Kaloyan. The third Renaissance part was built with donations from the local people, in the middle of the 19th century.

The mural paintings in the church are of different times: XI-XII century, year 1259 (the most valuable), XIV century, XVI-XVII century and 1882. Exceptional artistic merits have the famous frescos of the year 1259, made by The Master of Boyana and his group of medieval painters (240 images – a second layer of painting on the original).

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY IN THE RESIDENCE OF BOYANA

The National Museum of History keeps the treasures of the Republic of Bulgaria; is the repository of relics of world importance and one of the largest historical museums in the Balkans. Inside are preserved more than 650 000 cultural monuments and a huge archaeological and historical archive.

Next to the museum is the art gallery of Thracian treasures SIBILA, where we can buy copies of important Thracian treasures found in Bulgaria and icons, handmade and covered with silver and gold, in order to look more like the originals.

FREE TIME IN THE CENTER OF SOFIA

From Boyana we head back to the center of Sofia and stop near the National Palace of Culture (NDC). We will have free time to stroll through the city center – by the pedestrian boulevard “Vitosha” – to the cathedral temple “Sveta (St.) Nedelya”.

The National Palace of Culture is mainly used for congresses, concerts and other cultural events. It is visited by about 1.6 million people yearly.

The famous boulevard “Vitosha” is one of the favorite places for visitors and residents of the capital. On the avenue there are international brand stores, bars, restaurants and cafés. Its status as pedestrian zone makes it a pleasant place to walk and relax.

The cathedral temple “Sveta (St.) Nedelya”. The original church was built in the 10th century. In the early 1950s, a new cathedral – basilica temple with three naves was built in its place. In the first half of the 20th century it was restored and expanded. Under the dome of the steeple are hung 11 bells.

END OF THE  EXCURSION  – at 18.00 we leave Sofia and head back to Velingrad. At approximately 20.00 we will be at the hotel.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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