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Sights and Delights of Sofia - Recreation & Shopping



Places of Special Interest

The city is a cultural treasure trove with some spectacular places of interest like the also offers many places of special interest such as the St Cyril and Methodius National Library, which is home to the country’s largest collection of books.

Those visiting the capital with families will enjoy a trip to Sofia Zoo, which houses both domestic and foreign animals including lions and pink-backed pelicans as well as an impressive collection of pheasants and eagles.

One of the most breathtaking sights in this city is the unique Serdica Amphitheatre, which was discovered during the construction of the FPI hotel in 2004. The Arena di Serdica Hotel has dutifully preserved the remains and they can be visited by entering the hotel. The Roman amphitheatre (believed to be larger than the colosseum in Rome) is only one of a kind to house both an arena and a theatre side by side and its impressive ornamentation and sweeping arcs, vaults and galleries hid some amazing bronze and marble sculptures of Roman gods and emperors.

Sofia Public Mineral Baths are often called the Central Mineral Baths is a most impressive building built in the early 20th century and used up until 1986 as a public bath. This building is such a landmark in the city and despite damage from bombs during the Second World War, the Viennese architectural style combines elements of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox architecture and inside there are some ornate majolica ceramics adorning the walls and floor. The building is still undergoing restoration, but will house the Museum of Sofia and a spa centre.

Another architectural delight with great historical significance is the group of buildings known as The Largo. This mix of three buildings is the best example in South East Europe of Socialist Classicist architectural style. The buildings were built in the Fifties to accommodate the Party House, the Communist Party’s headquarters. Today it is home to the Sheraton Hotel, TZUM, the elite department store and various government departments including the President’s office.

Recreation and Shopping

Keen shoppers will love the Mall of Sofia, which lies directly in the centre of the city. The mall consists of four storeys of retail space, which is dominated by leading international brand names. There is also an entertainments complex which houses a 12-screen cinema with South Eastern Europe’s first 3-D IMAX cinema. City center Sofia is the second largest mall which consists of over a 100 shops with luxury brand goods, cafes and restaurants and a kid's zone.

Sofia is full of tiny independent boutiques and you can walk for hours just browsing the stores in the centre.

Vitosha Boulevard is the heart of the city’s shopping area and is home to all of the city’s most exclusive stores.

Another area well worth a visit particularly if you consider yourself a bookworm is Slaveykov Square. Not only is it home to an enormous book market and impressive collection of bookshops, it is also a popular area for people watching. The square was named after two famous Bulgarian writers, Pencho and Petko Slaveykov and there is a sculpture of them in the square. Just a short stroll from here is the fruit and vegetable market in Graf Ignatiev Street.

Sofia also offers much in the way of sport and recreation and those who prefer a more active holiday will not be disappointed.

Across the city the views of the Vitosha Mountains entice visitors to make the short journey across the city to explore this impressive mountain range.

There is much to do in this area, which offers skiing in winter and alpine tourism throughout the year. The National Park, the oldest in the Balkan area contains some particularly beautiful hiking routes, whilst the Knyazhevo suburb at the foot of the mountain has some fantastic mineral springs.

There are plenty of football stadiums and many of them have tennis courts and adjoining sports halls. The city also offers over 15 swimming complexes many of which are outdoor areas and offer impressive facilities as they were constructed as competition venues.

To the east of the city, there are two golf courses, Ihitiman and Elin Pelin and a good riding stable called St George’s Club.



A Green City

Back in town itself, the main recreational attraction is the three large parks, which offer a variety of facilities. Tsar Boris’ Garden is the oldest and contains some ornate floral beds as well as an ornamental wooden house constructed by a self-taught carpenter called Racho Angelov. The City Garden is the capital’s most central park and is a popular place for amateur chess enthusiasts, who base themselves on the garden in front of the National Theatre.

The last three photographs courtesy