The Best of Sofia, Bulgaria
David’s Been Here’s epic road trip through Bulgaria takes him to the capital, where David explore the best sights in Sofia. Known for its history, thriving nightlife, and celebrated restaurant scene, Sofia is a must for any traveler headed to the Bulgaria or the Balkans. In this episode David showcases the best sights in Sofia, exploring the remains of the ancient Roman city of Serdica.
With a history spanning thousands of years, it no wonder there has been so much uncovered in Sofia. First stop featured here is at the illustrious Neo-Byzantine Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Churches in the world! As you can see, the interior walls are beautifully painted with religious scenes and saints. From the outside the Cathedral stands out from the rest of the skyline with its signature gold-plated dome.
Next stop on the tour takes David underground to see the remains of the ancient fortress of Serdika. The fortress’s eastern gate is visible in the underpass between the Presidency and the Council of Ministers in Sofia. The remains found here were excavated in the late 1990s and preserved for all to see.
Housed within what formally was the largest Ottoman Mosque in Sofia is the National Archaeological Museum, a beautiful open space of artifacts spanning millennia (Early, Middle and Late Paleolithic collection, Neolithic collection, Chalcolithic collection, and Bronze Age). There are also collections from ancient Thrace, Greece and Rome to the late Middle Ages. The museum’s most priceless item, the gold Thracian burial mask, is also on display.
No visit to Sofia is complete without a stroll along the pedestrian-friendly Vitosha Boulevard. Named after a nearby mountain, Vitosha Boulevard is a shopper’s heaven, with dozens of high-fashion labels and boutiques along the way. Vitosha Boulevard is the main commercial street in the city. It is filled with people day and night, which makes it a popular place for tourists to stay. David’s hotel, Le Fleurs, is a fantastic boutique hotel with a great central location.
David then makes a stop to see the remains of the ancient Serdica Amphitheatre, or Arena di Serdica. What is left has been preserved and is free for anyone to see. The Serdica Amphitheatre is situated in the basement level of the Arena di Serdica Hotel in the city center. If you pay close attention, you will see paw prints in ceramic stone made over 7 centuries years ago!
After the Amphitheatre, David is off to see the St. George Church Rotunda (“Sveti George”). Enclosed in a courtyard between the Sheraton Hotel and the Presidency, St. George Church is believed to be the oldest monument in the city, dating back to the beginning of the 4th century A.D. For a small entrance fee visitors can enter to see the multi-layered murals on the church walls. Around the St. George Church there are fragments of buildings from ancient Serdica.
Last but not least David makes it to St. Sofia Church (“Sveta Sofia”). Built in the 6th century A.D. the St. Sofia Church is the second oldest church in Sofia. From the outside it may not look like much, but David got the chance to head underneath the church to check out the preserved Roman necropolis. This underground museum holds some of the most significant archaeological finds in the Balkans. The museum features remains of over 50 tombs, mosaics and artefacts dating back to Byzantine and Roman times that can be seen on several underground levels.