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Clare
Clare

Day 5: Sofia

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Today we had a full day to explore Sofia :) We had a leisurely start to the morning in our apartment and then, before heading into the main city centre, decided to explore one of Sofia's large parks, which I'd seen marked on a map of the city. Our apartment wasn't too far from Borisova gradina, Sofia's oldest park which was created in 1884.

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We found the park without too much difficulty and started strolling around. First impressions were that it was virtually deserted and felt more like a forest than a park. We walked for quite a long time on wooded paths which felt more like they were in the middle of the countryside than in the middle of a capital city!

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Eventually we reached the far end of the park and, when we started walking back along the other side, we found ourselves in a part which seemed a bit more like a conventional park.

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The large obelisk in the distance is a Communist monument, known as the Mound of Brotherhood.

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A bit further on we found this pond, whose surface was almost completely covered in water lilies.

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At the edge of the park there is a lake and a good view towards the mountains outside the town.

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We crossed over Sofia's river via Eagle's Bridge. Given how small the river is, they have put some effort into the bridges xD

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On the other side of the bridge, we found the Monument to the Soviet Army. 

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This was erected in 1954 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the liberation of Sofia by the Soviets, but today it is a controversial monument and is periodically vandalised.

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The main sight we wanted to find today was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is one of the biggest Orthodox cathedrals in the world.

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Construction on the cathedral started in 1882 and it was completed in 1912. It was named after St Alexander Nevsky, a Russian prince, to honour the Russian soldiers who died liberating Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish war.

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It's definitely an enormous church. We walked all the way around it, enjoying the views.

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Just behind the cathedral is Sofia's art gallery, which is also an attractive building.

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On the other side of the road, this ornate building is the home of the patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox church.

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Meanwhile, this very unassuming church is the church of St Sophia, originally built in the 4th century, and the church which gave the city its name.

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There was one more church which I really wanted to see.

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This is Sofia's Russian Orthodox church, built as the official church of the Russian embassy in Sofia.

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It had a really beautiful facade.

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Once we'd seen the Russian church, we were almost back in the part of Sofia which we'd visited yesterday. In the main square, near to where we'd found the underpass with the archaeological remains, we caught sight of this rather unusual statue.

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It turns out that it's a statue of St Sofia, which was erected here in 2000, replacing a statue of Lenin which had previously stood in the same spot.

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Although we'd already been in this part of town yesterday, we decided to stroll around and look at some of the sights again.

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We realised that from this point we could see the mosque and the synagogue at the same time.

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We also found this little medieval church, which we'd missed yesterday. It's named after St Petka, the patron saint of saddlers, and was discovered during excavations after the Second World War.

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We were hungry by this point so set off down the main shopping street in search of somewhere to get lunch.

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We found a nice restaurant where I had pizza and Tim tried some Bulgarian sausages. Again, very good value at about £18 for the meal.

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It was a really hot day again in Bulgaria, so we went back to the apartment for a while to enjoy the air-conditioning, heading out again once it was a bit cooler. There was a second park marked on the map of Sofia, so we decided to explore that.

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The map had a "National Palace of Culture" marked on the map in the middle of the park, which sounded like it might be something impressive. It turned out to be this big concrete building xD The fountains were pretty though!

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We've had a great time in Sofia :) Tomorrow we're on the move again, heading towards our next destination of Veliko Tarnovo.

Edited by Clare

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