It was still very dreary weather but at least it wasn't raining as we explored downtown Sofia on foot from the hostel using information I had found in guidebooks back home and brought with us.
|All the major downtown street signs were both in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets so we could figure out both where we were and where we wanted to go.|
|Ever since being in southern Poland we've often seen older women, and sometimes men, selling a few items on the streets, generally right in front of stores.|
|There seemed like there about 20 meat shops in about a 4 block area!|
|An elevated pulpit which we've noticed is so common not only in Orthodox churches but also in Christian churches.|
|Beautifully hand knit socks|
|Checking out the meat prices.|
|I was taking a photo of this meat store when one of the women inside so kindly gestured for me to come in and take a picture!|
|Suellen: How would Ron like buying his wine here rather than at Costco?! In the top picture did you notice you could buy any size wine you wanted?|
|Saw this woman several times in the market; this was the best photo of her.|
Behind the market hall is the vast dome of Sofia Synagogue, designed by a Viennese architect in 1909, and intended to symbolize the Jewish contribution to
The Synagogue was closed that day so we went back for a little 2 days later to visit the interior.
|The synagogue was across from George Washington St.!|
Only steps from the synagogue was Banya Basha Mosque that was built in 1576; it was open to non Muslims so we removed our shoes as required before entering a mosque, and stopped to admire the beauty within. It was my first time entering a mosque so I was honored to be allowed to enter. There were only a few worshipers saying their prayers. Unlike many of the churches we’ve visited, there was no admission charge and no policy against taking photos so I was happy!
|Unlike the synagogue where we had to be buzzed in to enter, there was no visible security at the mosque.|
|A different look for a McDonald's sign, wouldn't you say! I like it was a Mac, not a Mc, as many of you may know my maiden name was MacDonald! It was diagonally across from the mosque.|
Walked a fair piece to reach a number of churches on our list. On the way we saw the large Statue of St. Sofia, the nearby Communist Party Headquarters…
|The entire square had lovely mosaic patterns.|
The church, also called St. Nikolai the Miracle Worker, was built to appease a Russian diplomat afraid to worship in Bulgarian churches!
Then walked a few blocks to the massive, awe-inspiring Alexander Nevski Memorial Church (above), a symbol not just of Sophia but of
The Basilica of Santa Sofia, above,is the oldest Eastern Orthodox church in Sofia and it is in fact this church that gave the city its name to the present day capital back in the 14th C. The church though dates back to the 6th C. Roman area; it was said that the church could be viewed from’6 hours away’! During Ottoman rule, it was turned into a mosque but after an earthquake toppled the minaret in 1818 and another one killed the Iman’s 2 sons 40 years later, it was abandoned and later restored as a church. We spent some time in the new, below ground museum that revealed layers of the Basilica’s history, including 3 earlier temples.
|In the museum below the church.|
|Couldn't resist taking these pictures inside the lobby of the hotel opposite the Assembly when we used their facilities! Steven was quite happy to reenact his role as the Sherpa!|
A 100% electric car in front of the hotel I mentioned above; it was minute inside, enough for one seat only in the front and possibly a car seat or a few grocery bags in the back. Do these exist yet in the
|It was amazing and, quite frankly, disheartening seeing lots of young men performing bike tricks, skateboarding, etc just feet away from the massive sculpture. I must be getting old as that part of the park just didn't seem the 'right' place for it.|
|A tiny memorial chapel to the Victims of Communism located by the Palace of Culture. The chapel was adjacent to the long wall, below, that had thousands of names on it. It reminded both of us of the similarly shaped Viet Nam Memorial in D.C.|
|Inside the wee chapel.|
|The Communist Times Memorial|
How nice to call it a day after all this and head back to our hostel for some nice hot tea. We sure needed to put our feet up and get warm after a long day of sightseeing in Sofia.