Have you ever been to a place so serene that it invoked passive tranquility in your heart? The essence of the gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria is capable of calming your senses to a certain degree, ensuring that you ditch all negative thoughts and embrace positivity, even against your will. This is the sort of power that this 20th Century cathedral emancipates.
Saint Alexander Nevsky was a famous Russian prince and philanthropist and this Cathedral was built in the honor of 200,000 Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian and Belorussian soldiers, who were martyred during the Russo-Turkish war between 1877 and 1878, which liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. It is one of the biggest and last of the Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals – in this part of the world - that are still present in an immaculate condition.
Design & Architecture
This cathedral is based on Neo-Byzantine architecture and features a cross-dome structure, with a 45 meter high gold-plated dome. This cathedral has over 12 bells in its bell tower, which is 53 meters high and weighs a total of 23 tons. While the single heaviest bell weighs 12 tons, the lightest is of 10 kilograms.
The words of the Lord’s Prayer are inscribed around the central dome in thin gold letters, while the surrounding décor consists of plush materials, including multi-colored Italian marble, alabaster and Brazilian Onyx. These work hand-in-hand to mesmerize locals and tourists, who happen to visit.
The Foundation Stone was laid in 1882, even though minor phases of construction had begun in February 1979. Major progress in construction was however, recorded between 1904 and 1912. This Cathedral was the brain-child of three famous architects – Alexander Pomerantsev was the Chief Designer, while Alexander Yakovlev and Alexander Smirnov were apprentices at the time – during its initial construction phase, between 1904 and 1912.
Pomerantsev changed Ivan Bogomolov’s initial construction plan that was used between 1877 and 1878. The final plan was ready by 1898, while a team consisting of the finest European craftsmen, decorators and artists from Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria, was selected to start working on the cathedral.
Nearby Locations for Sight-Seeing
Next to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, lies the St. Sofia Church – on which the city of Sofia is named. Some of the other historically important places located nearby include the Bulgarian Parliament, Academy of Sciences, Monument to the Unknown Soldier and National gallery of Foreign Art. A flea market located nearby, is the popular haunt for tourists and locals, who are looking for antiques, icons or handmade textiles.