Church of St Sofia

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Church of St SofiaThe Church of St Sofia/Tsurkva Sveta Sofia/ is next to Aleksander Nevski Church. Sitting in its shadow, this brown brick church is the second oldest building in Sofia. In the 2nd century this was the location of a Roman theater used for bloody public spectacles.

The earliest basilica is built in the 5-6th century. The present church still follows the classic Byzantine plan of a regular cross with a central dome. In the 14th century, the structure acquired the status of a metropolitan church, giving its name to the city. 

During Ottoman rule, the church was converted into a mosque: the original twelfth-century frescoes were destroyed and minarets were added. In the 19th century two earthquakes destroyed one of the minarets and the mosque was abandoned. After the Liberation, it was restored and reinstated as a church with all Muslim features being removed.

The present building is a cross basilica with three altars. The architecture is austere and not ornate. Outside, to the left of the main entrance, stands the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, lit by a perpetual flame in honour of those who died for Bulgaria.

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