Sofia by Instagram

I’m just at the tail end of a brief visit in Sofia, one of the few European capitals I haven’t seen before (one of my fave travel reasons). Sofia – apart from having such a lovely name – has been a pleasant surprise: wide open boulevards, varied and interesting architecture, nice cafes, and just a very convivial city to wander around. Not sure why I haven’t been here before, actually. Here’s a wee glimpse of the Bulgarian capital, seen through the lense of my iPhone: Sofia by Instagram.

Like Kiev, Sofia also shows off gorgeous golden domes.

Discovering a new capital city this morning. And one with such a beautiful name, too.

The imposing Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

While we’re on the subject of houses of worship, I feel it’s only fair to include the Banya Bashi Mosque as well, a remnant of Ottoman rule in Bulgaria: built by Minar Sinan in 1576.

Arembantbof Ottoman rule in Bulgaria: the Banya Bashi Mosque in Sofia; built by Minar Sinan in 1576.

The Banya Bashi Mosque

Of course, there’s more than just religious architecture in Sofia. This building is an excellent example of Socialist Classicism, isn’t it? Built in the early 1950s along with two other (equally imposing) buildings, together they’re called the Largo. It was once the headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Today, it houses National Assembly offices. Reminds me a bit of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw.

National Assembly office building, Sofia

National Assembly office building

I love this little glimpse into the life of Sofians on their way home from work this evening.

On tram 22, Sofians going home from work.

Tram no. 22

Art in Sofia takes many forms. Here’s a somewhat disconcerting example of the city’s street art:

My final dispatch from Sofia is this piece of slightly disconcerting street art.

Sofia street art

… and finally, my favourite (of course): high on a pedestal, in the very centre of the city, watching over it, is the golden goddess Sofia. The statue replaced one of Lenin – and quite rightly, too.

And here she is: Sveta Sofia, the Holy Sophie. A monumental statue high on a pedestal in the very centre of Sofia. She replaced Lenin. Think I'll take her home :)

The Holy Sofia

Which is your favourite lesser-known European capital?

16 Responses to “Sofia by Instagram”

  1. Turkey's For Life 3 July 2014 2335 #

    Sofia almost haunts us. We were supposed to stop there on our jaunt through Eastern Europe back to Istanbul a few years ago. We were so tired on the bus – and we met a Sofia local who told us not to bother – that we decided to book a bus straight to Istanbul from Sofia bus station…so we’ve been through Bulgaria only in transit. We need to put that right because Sofia looks like just our sort of city. We live and learn. ;)
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..What Do Fethiye, Atatürk, Edward & Mrs Simpson And James Dyson Have In Common? Read On…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1048 #

      So true, Julia :)

  2. Fida 4 July 2014 0047 #

    I have to admit I never made to Sofia or Bulgaria for that matter. You’ve brought back beautiful pictures.

    My tip for visiting a lesser known European city would be Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. I was equally surprised as you about Sofia. It’s a vibrant city and great architectural buildings and noble houses along cobbled streets. And I loved the cafes :)
    Fida recently posted..Jun 28, Weekend Switzerland Photo

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1049 #

      I really like Vilnius, too :)

  3. Really cool photos! The domes look impressive, and interesting shot of people in the tram. Thanks for sharing!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..TAHITI: Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1049 #

      Thanks, Mary :)

  4. Betty J. Ogburn 4 July 2014 1632 #

    …To answer your question (even though I haven’t been there, yet), Riga looks captivating to me!!…It’s a place that’s not really on most people’s must-see lists, yet!!…
    Betty J. Ogburn recently posted..Anticipation: Or, 9 Ways to Maintain One’s Sanity While Waiting for the Carta…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1050 #

      Riga is a very interesting capital, too. In fact, ll the Baltic ones are.

  5. Dianne 4 July 2014 1818 #

    We had a lovely young woman from there as an exchange student many years ago. I have lost contact with her…I know she is married and has children. Would love to know how they are.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1052 #

      I do hope you find her. I was an exchange student myself, a million years ago, in the USA. Still keep in touch with my one of my host families, but have lost touch with the other one, sadly.

  6. Lisa Goodmurphy 5 July 2014 0341 #

    Lovely photos, Sophie! I know nothing of Sofia and your description of the city and your photos are not at all what I would have imagined. I think I had something much more “Soviet” or austere in mind. I would love to know just how many Alexander Nevsky Cathedrals there are though – every city in the former Soviet bloc seems to have one!

    I’m more familiar with the better-known European capitals but if any of the Scandinavian capitals count as lesser-known then that’s what I would pick.
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..Four European Cities Kids Will Love on Travel Underwriters Insurance Blog

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1052 #

      Love the Scandinavian capitals, of course :)

  7. James 5 July 2014 0623 #

    I know so little of places like Bulgaria, so posts like this are always a treat to read. Whets my appetite for when I’ll eventually get to Eastern Europe next year!
    James recently posted..Top Tourist Attractions In Melbourne

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1053 #

      I think you’ll like Eastern Europe, James. :)

  8. Cathy Sweeney 7 July 2014 2227 #

    I completely agree about the lovely name — Sofia! I’d really like to visit sometime. Bratislava is coming to mind as a European capital that not as popular as others. I only spent a short time there and it was very foggy — I liked the mysterious ambiance. I’d like to see it in the sunshine — I hear that it is quite lovely.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..One for the Road: My 5 Day Nova Scotia Road Trip

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1054 #

      Luckily, Bratislava is easily accessible – both from Vienna and Budapest.

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