Taste locals’ life walking tour Sofia
Women’s Market or Zhenski Pazar is the biggest market in Sofia. Although they make at least twice a week shopping from there (walking tour Sofia), when asked about the market locals express mixed feelings. It is an absolutely individual feeling. For some the market is ‘a natural, unstrained and at the same time very artistic place’ (says a young woman who visits the market weekly). For others, it is a place that sells bad production. In both cases, Women’s Market offers a wide range of seasonal fruit and vegetables. It offers cheese, meats, dried fruit and nuts. Also, homemade halva and other Turkish-inspired items. It is located in the centre of Sofia, close to Lion’s Bridge.
Up to 1990 the name of the market is Georgi Kirkov. That used to be the name of the boulevard at that time. The same market used to be called ‘Wheat market’ and ‘Horse Market’.
The market is divided in two alleys – the right-hand alley and the left-hand one. If you take the right-hand one you can buy fruits, vegetables and food. The left-hand one is for clothes (cheap, fake designer clothes), shoes and other cheap stuff.
During the years Women’s Market has made its name of a place where you can find anything. There you can find things you cannot find anywhere else. There is another Central Market Hall in Sofia which compared to Women’s Market loses the game. Zhenskiyat Pazar is an authentic place, definitely not a tourist attraction but can give every tourist, who dare to visit it, the genuine feeling to be a local.
Women’s Market, long lasting peculiar place
Women’s Market benefits from its long lasting presence. The market had been there, at the periphery of Sofia, when there was а desolated field around the place the Parliament is today. Due to market’s century-long existence, people developed habits to travel long to the place just to do grocery shopping. Walking tour Sofia doesn’t intend to make you do shopping, but to make you feel local.
Shortly after the Liberation of Bulgaria the market turned out to be located in the very central square in the city. Actually, the market is a successor of the weekly villagers’ market established in Ottoman times. Interestingly, still this type of market exists in Turkey. On different days of the week the market occupies different places.
In the beginning of the 20th century Women’s Market was moved away from the centre and a new large covered building was constructed on its place. The market was moved to its present location. At that time new neighbourhoods were just established. They had to house all the people coming from the countryside to the newly developed capital city. Today, although in the very centre of Sofia, the market is in a place considered a ‘miserable’ and not ‘official looking’ part of the capital.
The falling of the Communist regime made the Women’s Market an icon of these times; an icon for the 1990s post-socialist city of Sofia. Today, the market is simply a reminder of these days.
Yes, the Women’s Market is not a tourist attraction. It’s not part of any walking tour Sofia but it is a curious place that has the spirit of times gone but not forgotten. It has many things to offer and although it doesn’t sell women, it has the name Women’s Market in respect to the times when women were the only sellers.