Saint Sofia Church, Sofia

Saint Sofia Church, Sofia (must see)

Saint Sofia Church was built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. It was contemporaneous with the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople. Like the Hagia Sofia, the Cathedral became a mosque during Ottoman rule. Unlike the Hagia Sofia, it later returned to being a church.

Saint Sofia is the second oldest church in the capital. In the 14th century it donated its name "Sofia" to the city, which heretofore went by the name "Sredets." The present basilica, with its cross design and three towers, one with a cupola-dome, is the fifth church to be built over the bones of a 2nd century Roman theatre and four churches.

When the basilica became a mosque in the 16th century, the interior 12th century frescoes were demolished and minarets were added. In the 19th century the mosque was hit by two earthquakes. One minaret was destroyed and the mosque was left abandoned. Restoration had to wait until 1900, after the Ottomans had left.

The basilica has three altars. The floors are busy with early Christian mosaics having complex ornate animal and floral designs. Besides the ruins of earlier structures, the church also sits in the midst of a necropolis. Tombs and ancient remains have been unearthed under and around the church.

Saint Sofia's benevolent powers are credited with protecting the church by fending off invasions, plagues and other disasters. This has undoubtedly helped preserve the basilica's elegant austere lines from an earlier age. Church icons depict Sofia as a woman representing Wisdom. She stands above the female figures of Faith, Hope and Love.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Sofia. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Saint Sofia Church on Map

Sight Name: Saint Sofia Church
Sight Location: Sofia, Bulgaria (See walking tours in Sofia)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Sofia, Bulgaria

Create Your Own Walk in Sofia

Create Your Own Walk in Sofia

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sofia is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Sofia Introduction Walking Tour

Sofia Introduction Walking Tour

"Ever growing, never aging" This is the motto of Sofia, capital city of Bulgaria. Under different names, the area of Sofia has had a 7,000 year history. Organized settlements around the area's hot water springs existed as early as the third millennium BC. A Thracian state union there was raided by Philip II of Macedon in 339 BC.

The Celtic Serdi provided the name...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Communist Era Landmarks Walk

Communist Era Landmarks Walk

In the not-so-distant past Bulgaria was part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. Today, this is one of the few countries where you can still find numerous relics of the Communist era manifested in monumental architectural landmarks. Concrete and metal were the main materials as a symbol of the industrialized nation, and the size was important too as a common architectural characteristic prescribed by...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.6 Km or 4.1 Miles

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