Religious Buildings Walking Tour in Sofia, Sofia (Self Guided)

A predominantly Orthodox Christian city, Sofia has plenty of great churches and cathedrals from this tradition. But as well as Orthodox religious buildings, the city also has mosques and temples from other faiths. Take our tour to get a sense of the spiritual life of Bulgaria's capital.
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Religious Buildings Walking Tour in Sofia Map

Guide Name: Religious Buildings Walking Tour in Sofia
Guide Location: Bulgaria » Sofia (See other walking tours in Sofia)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Author: stacey
1
The Russian Church

1) The Russian Church (must see)

The Russian Church, officially known as the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, is a Russian Orthodox church in central Sofia, situated on Tsar Osvoboditel (Tsar the Liberator) Boulevard. It was built on the site of the Saray Mosque destroyed in 1882 upon the liberation of Bulgaria by the Russian forces from the Ottoman Empire. Initially, this was an official church of the Russian Embassy located nearby and served the Russian community in Sofia, named, according to the tradition for diplomatic churches, after the patron saint of the Russian Emperor of at that period, Nicholas II. It was designed by Russian architect Mikhail Preobrazhenski in the Russian Revival Style, with the decoration inspired by Muscovite Russian churches of the 17th century. The interior murals were painted by a team of artists led by Vasily Perminov, who also painted those in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The five domes were coated with gold, and the bells were donated by Emperor Nicholas II. The construction began in 1907 and the church was consecrated in 1914. It remained open after the Russian Revolution of 1917 as well as throughout the Communist period in Bulgaria (1944–1989), although priests and church-goers were carefully watched by the State Security police. The crypt housing the remains of Saint Archbishop Seraphim is located beneath the church's main floor. Dozens of people still visit the grave of the archbishop, who died in 1950, praying and leaving notes asking for wishes to be granted.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

2) Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (must see)

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia's symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres (34,100 sq ft) and can hold 10,000 people inside. It is the second biggest cathedral located on the Balkan Peninsula after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasized central dome. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high (148 ft), with the bell tower reaching 53 metres (174 ft). The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kilograms (22 lb). The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord's Prayer inscribed around it, with thin gold letters.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Saint Sofia Church

3) Saint Sofia Church (must see)

The Hagia Sophia Church is the second oldest church in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, dating to the 6th century. In the 14th century, the church gave its name to the city, previously known as Sredets (Средец).

The Hagia Sophia Church is now one of the most valuable pieces of Early architecture in Southeastern Europe. The present building is a cross basilica with three altars. The floor of the church is covered with complex Early Christian ornamental or flora and fauna-themed mosaics. The Hagia Sophia Church stands in the middle of an ancient necropolis and many tombs have been unearthed both under and near the church. Some of the tombs even feature frescoes.

Because St. Sophia represents divine wisdom rather than a historical saint, icons within the church depict Sophia as a woman standing above three other women representing faith, hope, and love. The church also displays icons of historical saints, including St. George and St. Vladimir.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Church of St. Paraskeva

4) Church of St. Paraskeva

The Church of St Paraskeva is a Bulgarian Orthodox church in Sofia. The church, dedicated to Saint Paraskeva, is located on 58 Georgi Rakovski Street in the centre of the city. It is the third-largest church in Sofia.

Plans to build a church at the site date to 1910, when Stuttgart-educated Bulgarian architect Anton Tornyov won a competition for the church's design. Due to the Balkan Wars and World War I, however, the construction was postponed. In 1922, the church board of trustees announced another competition, which was again won by Tornyov. The construction of the Church of St Paraskeva was complete by 1930, but the finishing works on the porticos did not cease until 1940.

St Paraskeva has a somewhat unusual design for an Eastern Orthodox church: for example, the cella is in practice a round chamber over 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter. The cella gradually disintegrates into the surrounding apses.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Sofia Synagogue

5) Sofia Synagogue (must see)

The Sofia Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe, one of two functioning in Bulgaria and the third-largest in Europe. Constructed for the needs of the Bulgarian capital Sofia's mainly Sephardic Jewish community after a project by the Austrian architect Friedrich Grünanger, it resembles the old Moorish Leopoldstädter Tempel in Vienna and was officially opened on 9 September 1909 in the presence of Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. The first preparations for the synagogue's construction date to 1903, while the construction itself had begun on 13 November 1905. The construction of a grand new synagogue was part of the reorganization efforts of the Bulgarian Jewish community under Lemberg-born Chief Rabbi Marcus Ehrenpreis and local leaders Ezra Tadjer and Avram Davidjon Levy. Prior to the construction of the new synagogue, the lot in central Sofia had been occupied by an older synagogue.

The architectural style is essentially Moorish Revival, with elements of the Vienna Secession and, in the facade, Venetian architecture. The main premise has a diameter of 20 m and is 31 m high. It is topped by an octagonal dome. The interior is richly decorated, featuring columns of Carrara marble and multicoloured Venetian mosaics, as well as decorative woodcarving. The entire building takes up 659 m².

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Cathedral of St. Joseph

6) Cathedral of St. Joseph

The Cathedral of St Joseph is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Sofia. It is the co-cathedral of the Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv, together with the Cathedral of St Louis in Plovdiv.

The cathedral, rebuilt at its previous location after it was destroyed by the Allied bombing raids during World War II, was inaugurated on 21 May 2006 in the presence of Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. The foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid personally by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Bulgaria in 2002.

The Cathedral of St Joseph has 350 seats and is capable of sheltering a total of about 1,000 people. It is 23 m long, 15 m wide and 19 m high, with the belfry reaching 33 m and having four electronic bells.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
St. Nedelya Church

7) St. Nedelya Church (must see)

Holy Sunday Church is an Eastern Orthodox church in Sofia, a cathedral of the Sofia bishopric of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Sveta Nedelya is a medieval church that has suffered destruction through the ages and has been reconstructed many times. The present building of the temple is among the landmarks of Sofia. It was designed by the famous Bulgarian architectural team Vasilyov-Tsol.

The history of the cathedral's earliest years is to a large extent unknown. It was probably built in the 10th century and had stone foundations and an otherwise wooden construction, remaining wooden until the middle of the 19th century, unlike most other churches in the city. A German traveller by the name of Stefan Gerlach visited Sofia in 1578 and mentioned the church. The origin of the name Sveta Nedelya is rather obscure. It can be translated as either "Holy Sunday", "Saint Nedelya", or even as "Saint Sunday", depending on which etymology is taken as the basis.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia

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 Landmarks Walking Tour

Sofia Landmarks Walking Tour

As the capital of a former communist country, Sofia has a number of imposing monuments and landmarks that recall the long history of Bulgaria. Make sure that you will take this self guided walking tour to visit some of the most amazing and important attractions in Sofia.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 km
Levski Boulevard Walking Tour

Levski Boulevard Walking Tour

Levski Boulevard is the main street of Sofia, and is notable for its many landmarks and monuments. The street took its name from Vasil Levski, a national hero in Bulgaria. Take our tour to explore the top sights of Levski Boulevard.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Sofia is considered one of Europe's oldest cities, with a history going back more than 7,000 years. It's also Bulgaria's cultural, economic, and educational epicenter. This fascinating city is rich in historical and architectural sights as well as many other attractions. Take this walk to visit the biggest and best attractions in Sofia.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Sofia without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Sofia, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Borisova Garden Walk

Borisova Garden Walk

Borisova Gardina is the oldest and most famous park in Sofia. Established in 1884, the park was named after Bulgarian Tsar Boris III. Take our tour to explore the sights within the garden and find out more about this top Bulgarian landmark.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Famous Museums and Galleries Walk in Sofia

Famous Museums and Galleries Walk in Sofia

Sofia boasts a number of great museums that reflect Bulgaria's history, its cultural heritage and the way of life in the country. Take this walking tour to get a keen insight into Bulgarian history.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Sofia Shopping: 15 Things To Memorize Bulgaria By

Sofia Shopping: 15 Things To Memorize Bulgaria By

Increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years, Bulgaria has opened up to the outer world, revealing colorful identity, manifested in rich craftsmanship, culinary and cultural traditions and history. The country's capital city Sofia is a lovely alloy of Eastern and Western European...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Sofia for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Sofia has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Sofia, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.