Sofia, Bulgaria

St. Nedelya, Sofia, Bulgaria

This church is the third of Sofia’s Cathedrals and is the most central of all its ancient churches being on one of the main squares in Sofia just off the main thoroughfare of Vitosha Boulevard.

Its history is one of continuous rebuilding and destruction. Part of the reason for this is that until the 19th Century the church was mostly constructed from wood. The base upon which the wooden churches were built has been dated to the 10th Century. The wooden church seems to have been knocked down and rebuilt with some frequency, there are mentions of it in the 1460s and 1570s.

In 1856 the last wooden church was finally demolished to make way for a larger, stone cathedral. Work had hardly begun when an earthquake in 1858 halted construction. In 1863 work was finally completed and in 1867 the Cathedral was inaugurated.

In 1925 the Communists blew up the church during a funeral service, killing 150 people and destroying the church once again. Rebuilding took place between 1927 and 1933 when the Cathedral was inaugurated once again. This new construction was of an entirely different kind to what had been built before. The destroyed church had been a tall, Italianate structure with a dominating bell tower, this new church is much more Balkan in its appearance, with low wide domes, and a chunky over all appearance.

The immediately post-Communist era saw the church heavily restored and cleaned up and today the Cathedral is one of the focal points for downtown Sofia.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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