Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walk of Downtown Sofia

I went on a walk in downtown Sofia today and saw some of the museums and churchs.  Unlike my other walks downtown I cheated and took a taxi down rather that walk down like I've done the other days.  The walk downtown is about an hour so this taxi ride was much easier.  My taxi driver took me to the wrong museum to start but I notice where he dropped me off was at the start of a guided walk in my Travellers Book so I set out with my guide book to see what it suggested I saw.  Here are the sights...
I started at the Archaeological museum.  This museum was built in the late 1400s.  I didn't go in as the reviews all said it mainly contained a collection of coins.
It has some Roman ruins in front of the museum that were really interesting.
I then came to St. George's Church.  This is the oldes extant building in Sofia, having been erected in the 4th century AD by the Romans as a secular rotunda.  It was later changed into a Christian church in the early Middle Ages and then into a mosque during the Ottoman era.  It was damaged in WWII and resently fixed to its Romansque style.

Grounds around St. George's Church.

I thought I should try to take pictures of me in Bulgaria... this was the only place I remembered to try.
While at St. George's Church I saw the Bulgarian Cerimonial Guard preparing for a special event.
I then wen to Sveta Nedelya Cathedral.  It is Sofia's most popular church.  It was built in 1863 but had to beruilt in 1925 after somebody blew it up in an attempt to kill the king who was attending mass.

Sveta Nedelya Cathedral from the front.

As I tried to get to my next stop I found the fancy shopping street.  Every store had a guard outside the front doors.  There was Dolce & Gabana, Dior, Versace, and so many more.

It was a challenge getting to the next church on my list.  I needed to go into the underpass intersection to get here.

This is Sveta Petka Samardshiiska Church.  The basement of this church was built in the 4th century and the top in the 14th century.  It had a tour guide who knew some English so I really enjoyed seeing inside this church.  Sorry, no photos allowed.

I found the wheelchair ramp to get in and out of the underground intersections!  I don't think you could pay me enough to use these, especially on the long staircases that were 5 times this.
This is a statue for St. Sofia, for whom the city is named.  It is right in the middle of Ploshtad Battenberg Square.  This was the heart of the city.  From here you can see the former Royal Palace and Government Buildings.

These buildings were the Party House.  The one on the right was the headquarters of Bulgaria's Communist Party and had a huge red star on it.  This start was pulled down with the fall of communism in 1990.
This sign was on the ground outside my next stop at the National Art Gallery and Ethnological Museum.  It says no-wheelchairs.  This pictures really captures how downtown Sofia feels.

This building is part of the former Royal Palace.  The left wing is the National Art Gallery and the right wing is the Ethnological Museum.  The architectures inside is beautiful.  I took a few pictures so I could show mom despite the no picture rule.  I did turn my flash off and tried to be really sneaky and not let people see me.  I couldn't take any pictures in the Ethnological Museum as I had a tour guide who had enough English to make it a really intersting visit.
Main Halls inside the Royal Palace/National Art Gallery.

Main exhibition hall.  They had some strange contraption holding up the art which you can partially see here.  The room was so wonderful though it really took away from the art.

Balcony looking into the main exhibition room.

Solarium in the Royal Palace/Art Gallery.
On my way to my next stop the whole main road got shut down for a massive dipolomatic parade of cars, motorcycles, police, ambulance, police on foot, and somebody very important in this car.

I next went to the Museum of Natural History.  I forgot to take a picture outside but it wasn't that fancy of a building.  It had four floors of exhibits... all of them of taxidermied specimens or dead things in jars or rocks.  I felt like I was back in Halifax at the Museum in my working collection! 

The top floor of the museum was all pinned specimens (bugs mainly).  There was a school group having a program while I was here.  I really enjoyed watching a Bulgarian museum do a school program.

Next stop was the Sofia City Garden, at the heart of it was the National Theatre.  One of the prettiest buildings I've ever seen.
The other stops on the walking tour I had already done the day I walked down by myself.  It included the St. Nikolai Church and Alexander Nevski Chruch.

It was interesting to go back down today as I realized when mom was with me we actually where near all of these buildings but we were so distracted with getting the scooter over the sidewalks, up and down curbs, that we didn't notice half of what was around us.  I think she'll enjoy the pictures better than her time down there.

Well we're off for our last supper in Bulgaria.  The food her has been great so we are really looking forward to supper.  We'll probably do one more posting before we call it a night. 

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