Legends talk about Saint Sofia Church
Private tour guide Sofia and legends say that centuries ago there was a princess named Sofia. She was ill and she came to the town of Sofia (once Serdica). Fortunately, she got healed and recovered. Grateful and in need to praise God, wh helped her, Sofia built Saint Sofia Church (in Bulgarian Sveta Sofia Church).
Because we started with legends, let us tell you another one. Due to his refusal to convert to Islam, the goldsmith Georgi found his death in front of the church in the 16th century. He was burnt alive. Then two big earthquakes followed and during one of them the imam’s two sons who were in the church, died.
We choose whether to believe in the legends. They are fun to be known, they bring mystery and special aura to the places and buildings of interest.
Sveta Sofia Church – among the most important, symbolic places in Sofia
Usually neglected in favour of the magnificent Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Saint Sofia Church is an important historic and cultural monument. Private tour guide Sofia will tell you that this church is the godfather of the Bulgarian capital. Today’s capital of Bulgaria was named after Sveta Sofia Church. Sofia used to be the medieval city of Sredets (ancient Serdica) when the name of the church was given to it in the late Middle Ages, in the 14th century.
Together with Saint George Rotunda, the Basilica of St Sofia is one of the oldest still operating Christian temples not only on the territory of Bulgaria, but in Europe as well.
Two, three churches before Saint Sofia church
The present church stands over the remains of several earlier small churches. The churches were two or even three and they were destroyed in the 4th and 5th centuries. The first church was built in the beginning of the 4th century, right after the adoption of Christianity. The place chosen for it was the most elevated point of the city. The church was built outside of the walls and close to an east pagan and early Christian necropolis. It looks like the St Sofia Church was built over the grave of a Christian martyr or as a tomb-church.
The second church was built over the remains of the first one. It was slightly bigger in size, almost as big as the present church. That second church was completed in the middle of the 4th century. Impressive floor mosaics from that church are preserved till present day. The second church was also destroyed in the 5th century. Two underground early Christian tombs are preserved from these two early temples. They are under the floor of the present Sveta Sofia Church. They are decorated with nice frescoes.
In the time of the rule of Justinian the Great (527 – 565 AD) the Basilica of St Sofia was built over the ruins of the previous churches. It is considered that after building the basilica, it was dedicated to the Divine Wisdom.
Private tour guide Sofia, Ottoman rule
In the times of the Ottoman rule the church was turned into a mosque. Minarets were added, unique frescoes were erased. Two big earthquakes, in 1818 an 1858, seriously destroyed the massive bulding. With the second earthquake the minaret was destroyed and several muslims were killed. The Turks took it as a sign and abolished the church-mosque. It was then used as a warehouse.
After long archaeological research and repair, in 1930 St Sofia Church was finally opened for the worshippers.
Today St Sofia Church attracts with its beauty, long history, the rare for the Bulgarian lands architectural plan of a three-nave cross-domed basilica and its underground museum of the temple and the ancient necropolis of Serdica. It also attracts private tour guide Sofia.