The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a local landmark in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. This large cathedral was built in the neo-Byzantine style, and its lavish design elements make it one of the most striking and photogenic buildings in the city.
The Serdica Archaeological Complex is located in the heart of Sofia. A visit here allows you to delve into the ancient history of this site, which was formerly the Roman city of Serdica. The complex is extremely large, and features a former main street used by the ancient Romans as well as the ruins of shops, a lapidarium, and various monuments. It's a fascinating glimpse into the region's past.
The National Palace of Culture (NDK) is the largest multi-functional conference and exhibition center in south-eastern Europe. It opened back in 1981 to celebrate Bulgaria's 1300th anniversary.
The palace was the suggestion of Lyudmila Zhivkova (daughter of former Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov) and was completed by a team of Bulgarian and international architects. The landscaping of Bulgaria Square in front of the NDK has been subject to a modern redesign and is a hub of activity every day.
Inside the building, which has hosted concerts by the likes of Sting, Anastacia, and Mark Knopfler, there are 80 monumental artworks in the halls and foyers, which you can see by joining a National Palace of Culture guided tour.
Banya Bashi Mosque is located in the center of Sofia. Built in 1566 during Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, the mosque was designed by the same architect, Mimar Sinan, who built the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
As well as boasting a long and storied history, the mosque is notable for being built on top of a natural thermal spa. Even today, you can see steam rising around the walls of the building. Taking a guided or audio-narrated tour with Banya Bashi Mosque tickets is the perfect way to delve into Ottoman history in Bulgaria.
Dating back to the early 4th century, the Church of Saint George is considered Sofia's oldest building. Other than its impressive age, the rotunda also features five layers of frescoes. As you stare at the walls, make sure to keep an eye out for perhaps the most impressive of the lot, which dates back to the 10th century and shows the face of an angel in Bulgarian medieval style.
Located near the Dragalevski residential area of Sofia, the Dragalevski Monastery (also Dragalevtsi) was established by Tsar Ivan Alexander in about 1341, and remained after the Ottoman conquest in 1382.
Still functioning as a monastery today, tours of the site are a fascinating insight into the history of the monastery and of Bulgaria itself. The monastery is a designated cultural monument, and home to a library full of precious religious books and gospels.
The National Museum of Military History in Sofia, in various guises and locations, has been operating for over 100 years. The museum, now found in central Sofia, houses impressive military antiques like missiles and tanks as part of an open-air display. It also boasts a comprehensive indoor collection of military memorabilia and historical exhibits, detailing Bulgaria's military stories across thousands of years.
St. Nedelya Church is a medieval monument that now stands as a testament to Bulgaria's years under Communist rule. The church was blown up in a terrorist attack in 1925 and has been reconstructed several times, making it an architectural wonder and a history lesson at the same time. Visitors can opt for a guided tour or take a self-guided tour with audio commentary.
The Castle of Ravadinovo – also known as In Love with the Wind – is a modern Medieval-style castle from the brain of award-winning Architect Georgi Tumpalov.
The huge castle and its sprawling grounds are home to roaming swans and peacocks, a lake with freshwater fish, wishing wells, fountains, waterfalls, a small zoo, and plenty more nods to fairy-tale culture. Grab your Ravadinovo Castle tickets, opting for a guided tour or an audio-guided wander of an utterly unique Balkan attraction.
The Rila Monastery (full name: Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila) is the biggest and best-known Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. This scenic UNESCO World Heritage site is believed to have been founded between 927-968, during the reign of Tsar Peter I, and is famous for its detailed frescoes, elaborate architecture, and historical significance. Located south of the Bulgarian capital, it's one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations.