|Sofia - The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral|
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia's symbols and primary tourist attractions.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasized central dome. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 50.52 m. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kg. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord's Prayer inscribed around it with thin gold letters.
The construction of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral started in 1882 (having been planned since 19th February, 1879), when the foundation stone was laid, but it was in fact built between 1904 and 1912 in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule. The cathedral was designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, aided by Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Yakovlev, as the initial 1884-1885 project of Ivan Bogomolov was radically changed by Pomerantsev. The final design was finished in 1898 and the construction and decoration were done by a team of Bulgarian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and other European artists, architects and workers, including the aforementioned architects, as well as Petko Momchilov, Yordan Milanov, Haralampi Tachev, Ivan Mrkvička, Vasily D. Bolotnov, Nikolay A. Bruni, A.A. Kiselyov, Anton Mitov and many others. The marble parts and the lighting fixtures were created in Munich, the metal elements for the gates in Berlin, while the gates themselves were manufactured in Karl Bamberg's factory in Vienna, and the mosaics were shipped from Venice.
The name of the cathedral was briefly changed to the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral between 1916 and 1920, but then the initial name was restored. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was proclaimed a monument of culture on 12th September, 1924.
There is a museum of Bulgarian icons inside the cathedral crypt, part of the National Art Gallery. The church claims that the museum contains the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe. Around the cathedral one can buy handmade textile and antiques on a small flea market. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3170 m² and can take 5,000 people inside.