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Gay Sofia

17 Centuries of Christianity & Islam:

Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Sofia, is an UNESCO World Heritage site with frescoes dating from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Other points of interest include: Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral, a neo-Byzantine Orthodox church with icons and a museum; Cathedral Church Sveta Nedelya, the large, ornate and iconic Orthodox church with a famous dome, icons and murals; and St. George Rotunda Church, dating from 4th century times of Emperor Constantine the Great, the oldest architectural monument in Sofia.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rila Monastery, thought to have been founded by the hermit St. Ivan of Rila during the rule of Tsar Peter I (927-968), has been a repository of Bulgarian language and culture during ages of foreign rule. Home to many icons, manuscripts and carvings, its walls and ceilings are adorned with Bulgarian Orthodox Church frescoes - situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, 117 km (73 mi) south of Sofia.

Banya Bashi Mosque, with a spectacular interior and 15-meter domed ceiling, designed in 1576 by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, is the only still functioning mosque in a city that once had seventy. This remnant of the nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, is used today by the city's Muslim community. Modestly dressed visitors are welcome outside prayer times, but remove your shoes.

For more religeous sites in Sofia see the Sofia Guide link below:

The Central Mineral Bath/ Tsentralna Banya opened in 1911, is being refurbished, but people can take warm mineral water from springs in the park area. The hot mineral springs resort at Banya, Karlovo Branch, aka the Karlovo Mineral Therms, offer rest, recreation, and wellness facilities, half-way to the Black Sea, east of Sofia. Sapareva Banya with mineral water swimming pools, south of Sofia in Kotvata, near the Rila Monastery, are open all year. Fitness Este is a mainstream mixed gender luxury spa offering massages, spa treatments, sauna/steam baths, Jacuzzi and a heated pool ozone-cleaned swimming pool.

Drama, Performance, and Film Venues:

The Ivan Vazov National Theater has performances of plays, opera, ballet and modern dance. During the Sofia Music Weeks festival the National Palace of Culture presents performances, and many theaters and galleries present exhibits and shows. The Fridge Sofia, an alternative house, features live performances, special events, art exhibits, and film screenings.

The Odeon Cinema and Cinema House (Dom na kinoto) are downtown arthouse cinemas with international OV film screenings, and festivals including the International Sofia Film Fest each March, and the Sofia Pride Film Fest each June, plus other dates each year. The Euro Cinema is another arthouse venue.
Green & Social Spaces:

Borisova gradina and South Park are favorite green places at the center, and the Sofia Zoological Garden is the country’s largest zoo, located south of downtown. Overlooking the city, Mount Vitosha offers skiing and snowboarding in winter months, and wild fields and hiking trails for nature lovers in the warmer months.

Slaveykov Square, a pedestrian area famous for its many book stalls, is a pleasnt place to browse, surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants. Sofia’s main boulevard, Vitoshka, between South Park and St Nedelya Square, with its Art Nouveau buildings, also has an abundance of upscale international brand stores, restaurants and bars.

Near Orlov Most bridge and Sofia University, the Monument to the Soviet Army, a popular teenager/youth meeting place, is the staging area for Sofia Pride activities. Heroic figures of the monument have been the the canvas for several social/political artistic expressions/critiques between 2011 and 2014: the pop art "dressing" of Soviet Army soldiers as American popular culture characters; the use of Guy Fawkes masks in anti-ACTA protests; painted pink in 2013 in the "Apology for Prague '68" (Bulgarian tanks were among those in the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia); and the painting in 2014 with Ukrainian national colors, in support of the revolution in that country. Russian government officials have not been amused.

Sofia Museums and Galleries:

Museums and galleries of note include: The National Archaeological Museum, in what was the largest and oldest Ottoman mosque in the city, covering the culture of tribes and peoples who have occupied what is now Bulgaria from prehistoric times until the 18th century; The National Art Gallery, in what was formerly a Royal Palace, with over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art; The National Museum of Natural History, with exhibits featuring local biodiversity, ecology, conservation, entomology and palaeozoology; The National Museum of Ethnography, also in a former Royal Palace, with displays of Bulgarian ethno/cultural artifacts; The National Museum of History, with a collection of tools, weapons, uniforms, costumes, clocks, flags ranging from prehistoric times to the present day; and The Polytechnical Museum of Science, with exhibits on technology, various kinds of media, the development of computers, and a library of documents. For more, see the Sofia Guide link below: