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St Alexander Nevski Memorial Church

Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia
Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia

Said to be Sofia's most photographed monument, Alexander Nevski is a magnificent neo-Byzantine cathedral-sized church, topped by copper and golden domes. Considered the heart of the city, it was built between 1882 and 1912, in honor of the Russian soldiers, who fell when the Russian army helped liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878. The church takes its name from Alexander Nevski, credited with saving Russia from Swedish troops in 1240 and the patron saint of the family of the tsar at that time, Alexander II – also known as Tsar Osvoboditel, the 'King Liberator' – who led the army that drove out the Turks.

Inside, the central altar is dedicated to St Alexander Nevski, the southern altar to St Boris (who brought Christianity to Bulgaria) and the northern altar to Saints Cyril and Methodius (who created the Cyrillic alphabet). A total of 32 Russian and 13 Bulgarian artists worked on the delicate murals. The Icon Museum is located in the crypt, to the left of the main entrance. Here, over 300 icons and mural frescoes from the country’s many monasteries, tracing the development of Bulgarian icon-painting from the late 9th century up to the end of the 19th century. There are English labels, as well as a guidebook available in Bulgarian and English. The square in front of the church, Ploshtad Alexander Nevski, hosts stalls selling souvenirs, dubious antiques and bric-a-brac throughout the year.

St Alexander Nevski Memorial Church

Opening hours: Daily 07:00-18:00; services 08:00 and 17:00, Sat 18:00, Sun 17:00 h
Admission: Free

Icon Museum (Crypt)

Opening hours: Wed-Sun 10:00-17:00 h
Admission: 10 BGN

St Alexander Nevski Memorial Church

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