Sofia, the picturesque Bulgarian capital, boasts an enviable mix of churches, mosques and synagogues; all of which reflect the country’s more than turbulent religious past. Through the millennia, the country has passed through Christian, Muslim and Communist hands yet has emerged resplendent in its now independent glory. The country’s fervent pious devotion even surpassed Russian invasion, and a visit to the most beloved churches in Sofia will surely enthral all who are interested in Bulgaria’s religious treasures.
Book a central Sofia holiday rental on your next Bulgarian vacation, and if you’d like to visit the most important churches in town, simply follow our guide below.
Alexander Nevsky Church
Right in the centre of Sofia stands the Alexander Nevsky Church, a colossal tribute to the country’s Christian Orthodox fidelity and a truly jaw dropping architectural marvel. Built to commemorate the fallen comrades of the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, the Nevsky Church inception marked the final liberation of current day Bulgaria from the oppressive rule of the Ottoman Empire.
The Church took over a decade to complete, and was funded by public donations. Its namesake is, of course, that of the most beloved 13th century Russian hero Alexander Nevsky. Some of the church’s priceless relics date back to the first few centuries AD. The impressively carved exterior, complete with trademark Orthodox colourful domes, is a sight to behold, yet it’s the opulent interior which promises to wow all who pay it a visit.
The Nevsky Church may be the city’s most beloved tourist attraction, but keep in mind it is also a venerated one, so do dress appropriately.
Sveta Sofia Church
Bulgaria’s Haggia Sofia may not seem much from the outside, yet it is still regarded as one of the holiest churches in the country. It is the second oldest-building in the capital, which reflects the much more subtle and understated architectural styles of early Christianity. It is believed that a Roman amphitheatre stood here in the 2nd century BC, along with many other buildings, yet they were all but destroyed by foreign invaders. The current church is over one 1500 years old, and was once converted to a mosque under the Ottoman rule.
The church was restored at the end of the 19th century, and Sveta Sofia is now home to some amazing Roman relics and mosaics. The monument just outside the church is that of the Fallen Soldier, and its eternal flame stands as an incessant reminder of all those who fought to their deaths to gift Bulgaria the beloved independence it now enjoys.
Church of St Nicholas the Miracle Maker
Close to the Nevsky Church is where you’ll find another stunning looking church, the Russian Church of St. Nicholas. Built in 1907 on top of a former mosque, it was meant to service Sofia’s Russian elite, most of whom did business with the Russian Embassy which once stood next door.
The intricate detailing and colourful facade is truly breathtaking, while the characteristic gold-dipped onion domes are simply splendid, especially on a sunny day. The church bells were a gift from Tsar Nicholas II. The interior mosaics and murals were painted by the same artists who were in charge of the Nevsky Church, and are just as stunning.