Òîçè ìàòåðèàë å ïóáëèêóâàí è íà áúëãàðñêè åçèê [âèæ òóê]
I love Sofia. It’s my native town, dirty, noisy and probably dangerous in the criminal aspect, but I still love it because it’s my town. And here you could see a lot. It’s a historic city with many attractions, beautiful churches and interesting museums. Following the tourists’ guides however, you’ll surely miss the most important thing – the real pulse of the city, the untold stories and hidden treasures.
If it so happens that you stay in Grand Hotel Sofia in the very centre of the city you may find it interesting that the building was used as a library. For many years this historic building was left empty until it was claimed dangerous and replaced. And the small garden, just in front of the former royal palace, is also situated on the place of another part of our history. The mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov, the legendary communist leader, was built from scratch for just six days in 1949 and destroyed after probably more than fifty years.
On that same square I remember the repairing of the famous yellow cobbles. Decades of military parades were not enough to break them, but this initiative succeeded. It took almost a year to put them back and even the showgirls from a nearby striptease club contributed to that, considering it dangerous and therefore – potentially fatal for their careers to walk on the broken boulevard.
From the same place you could see something that’ll probably remind you of a chimney. This is where a ruby star stood on the top of the former Party House. More than 15 years ago it was taken down with a helicopter, which was a great attraction for a young kid, but now this empty pillar just in front of the President’s office looks simply ridiculous. A similar situation arose when building the Parliament – it was with an empty front for years before the new state emblem was chosen.
The garden at the back of Grand Hotel Sofia is still famous for the chess games played there. Many senior citizens spend their days there, and a few years ago some beautiful marble chess-tables were placed. In a few minutes you can get to the Slavejkov square, transformed into a huge open-air book market. It was here where Bulgarian literature was saved in those times when almost all bookstores were closed and this was the only place you could buy books. Here you can also see a permanently covered fountain where years ago a young man lost his life by electrocution because of some damaged lights inside the water. Keep walking down the boulevard and you will reach the memorial of Patriarch Evtimiy, simply known as “The Priest”, a well-known and loved meeting-point.
Another interesting place just in front of the Sofia University, now hidden by the construction of the Sofia subway, is the Monument of the Soviet Army and the garden around it. It is also known as the skateboarders’ park because it is a place for extreme sports. But what you must know is that the Sofia subway is probably the longest-built subway in the world. When you go to the Alexander Nevski Cathedral you must take a look at the nearby stalls where you can find a lot of antiquities both from World War II and the Communist times, silverware and icons, all of which are a part of the unsung story of the years after the fall of the Iron Curtain and before Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union. Years of misery, mass-emigration and chaos that we don’t want to, but we must remember.
1. The Mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov, as it was
2. The Party House
3. \"Slaveykov\" square
4. The \"Alexander Nevski\" Cathedral