Where to take a walk if you’re looking for that authentic Sofia feel
Written by Mirela Harizanova, edited by Lindsay Martin, photos by Pauline Mornet and Anastasiia Dehtiarova.
Whether you’re new to Sofia or have been here for a while, you probably still have a lot of exploring to do in the city. To spark your curiosity, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most beautiful streets in Sofia.
We’ve ordered these streets not by rank, but more so by geographic location, starting from the very center of Sofia and going southeast. Let’s get started.
This little street is located just outside one of the exits of Serdika metro station, right next to the hotel “Balkan”. Despite being only 300m long, this street encompasses luxury clothing stores, a jewelry store, luxury restaurants, two churches, a small art gallery with art for sale, a fancy chocolaterie Lindt, a big bookstore, Starbucks, and several other small shops. The paved road and the overall atmosphere of the street give it an authentic Sofia feel.
What’s more, since the 4th of July, Saborna has become a pedestrian zone. Which is all the more reason why you should go check it out.
Tsar Osvoboditel (lit. “Tsar Liberator”) (a.k.a. “The Yellow Pavement”)
In 1889, the Sofia Municipal Council renamed the former “Istanbul Jadesi” street to Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard. It’s named after Russian Tsar Alexander II Nikolayevich, nicknamed “the Liberator” for his emancipation of Russia’s serfs in 1861. The Tsar also led a brief war against the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Bulgaria for nearly 5 centuries. I’d say this also played a role in the council naming such a central boulevard after him.
On this iconic boulevard, you can see:
– The National Museum of Natural History
– The Russian Church of Nicholas the Wonderworker
– The Central Military Club
– The Embassy of Austria
– The Main building of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
– The National Assembly of Bulgaria
– The Main building of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”
– The Sarmadjiev’s house – today the residence of the Ambassador of Turkey
– The old Hotel Bulgaria
– The Central office for Bulgaria of BNP Paribas (№2) – built in 1899 as the seat of the Sofia Club
– Complex “Bulgaria”
– Postbank Head Office – built in 2003 after the almost complete demolition of the house of Ivan Evstratiev Geshov built in 1899
– Jablanski House – the former Chinese Embassy, not used today
– The Monument to the Soviet Army
Malko Tarnovo Street
It’s debatable whether it should even be called a “street,” as it resembles more of an alley between a couple of large buildings. Along its mere 60 meters, you can find the State Agency “State Reserve and Wartime Stocks,” the State Agency “Archives,” the State Agency of Energy Regulation, and a few bars and shops, including the Comedy Club Sofia Moskovska.
Renovated a year ago, this street is a mystery to many Sofia dwellers, even to me. It holds such an irresistible charm that many film productions create iconic scenes on it – including the contemporary 2017 movie “Bubblegum.”
Oborishte Street and the streets around Alexander Nevsky square
Oborishte is a long street bordering “Doctor’s garden” – a famous small park in Sofia. It encompasses several embassies, the National Music School Liubomir Pipkov, and the “House with the strawberries.”
Along with the other streets and park areas around the Alexander Nevsky square, it creates a unique atmosphere that really reflects the charm of Sofia. You can see old pictures of the Alexander Nevsky square here. And hurry up – the square is planned to be renovated in 2021 and turned into a pedestrian zone, so don’t miss this opportunity to see it before the construction starts.
This street is parallel to Oborishte and also borders “Doctor’s garden.” It’s a central street where many cultural sites are located. These include:
– The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
– The National Academy of Arts
– The St. Cyril and Methodius National Library
– The house of Prof. Ivan Shishmanov
– The home of Ivanka Boteva and her son Kiril Botev
– The Embassy of Switzerland
– The Memorial plaque of the house of Vasil Chekalarov.
– The Italian Embassy
– The Austrian Embassy
– The National Assembly
– The University “St. Kliment Ohridski”
– The Shipka 6 Gallery – the main gallery of the Union of Bulgarian Artists
– The Russian Cultural Information Center
– The House of Georgi Fingov, later (since 1913) of Petko Teodorov – mayor of Sofia
– The Vasil Aprilov School – one of the oldest schools in Sofia with a beautiful building and a stylish wrought iron fence
– Smedovski’s house
– Vasil Chekalarov’s house
– The home of Lubomir Miletic, a Bulgarian philologist.