Sofia, Bulgaria

Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, Sofia, Bulgaria

In 1877-1878 the Russo-Turkish War resulted in Bulgaria being freed from the rule of the Ottoman Empire. To commemorate the Russian soldiers who laid down their lives for Bulgarian freedom it was decided, in February 1879, to build a grand new church in the very heart of Sofia.

The foundation stone was laid in 1879 but work did not begin in earnest until 1882. Initial designs were heavily amended around 1884 by Alexander Pomerantsev and his design was finished in 1898. For some time the church remained in “planning hell” but in 1904 work began once more and the bulk was completed by 1912.

By the time the work was completed the church had become a Cathedral and it had grown to massive proportions. The gold-plated dome is 45 metres high and holds 23 tons of bells. The interior is decorated with marbles from Italy, onyx from Brazil and alabaster. Materials were also shipped from Germany, Austria and Venice.

During the Communist period the Cathedral was neglected a little by the authorities but was always a symbol for the people of Bulgaria and as soon as Communism was official over and Orthodoxy was once more the state religion work began to restore the Cathedral to its former glory. This work finished in the early 21st Century and today the Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral is rightfully the premier tourist attraction in Bulgaria and one of the great churches of the world.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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