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  • Day3

    Saint Sofia... not named after her!

    May 19, 2019 in Bulgaria ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    After breakfast of fruit and cereal we walked into the city centre for a 10am walking tour of Sofia. It's a free tour where you tip the guide as much or little as you like, and we had about 25 on our Sunday morning stroll.

    We visited all the major religious sites - cathedrals, orthodox churches, mosques and synagogue - I reckon Sofia could easily call itself the city of churches - as well as Roman ruins, relics of the communist past, and Bulgaria's brief foray into a monachy after 500 years of Ottoman rule.

    First stop was the Serdica Ruins, Roman ruins uncovered in 2012 when they were excavating for the underground station. These lie below a 6th century church, which is a level below the nearby 16th century church... and all visible from one place.

    Overlooking all of these is the controversial monument of Saint Sofia. It was erected in 2000 to replace a statue of Lenin removed 10 years prior, but isn't of any one person, but rather an amalgam of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sofia) and the goddess Athena... so the locals are at keen to explain that the city wasn't named after her!

    We visited the Offices of Parliament and saw the changing of the guard, and finished at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest completed Orthodox Cathedral in the Balkans (the 2 larger ones are still under construction)

    After the tour finished we had lunch at a soup restaurant, then cached our way back to the hotel via the mineral springs (where locals fill containers with spring water which flows freely at 27 degrees) and the Ladies Market (mostly Fruit and veg).

    Tea was at Happy Bar and Grill, a Bulgarian chain restaurant.
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