Temple Monument Saint Alexander Nevsky – the Biggest Church on the Balkans
One of the symbols of Sofia and Bulgaria is this massive cathedral “Saint Alexander Nevsky” which was built between 1882 and 1912 , in Neo-Byzantine style. It is the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and one of Sofia’s primary tourist attractions.
The cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasized central dome. The spectacular external golden domes were covered in gold leaf, donated by Russia in 1960 and have recently been re-gilded. Its dome is 45m high with a bell tower reaching 53m. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons. The interior features Italian marble in a lot of colours, Brazilian onyx and alabaster. The lighting in the Cathedral is elaborated in Munich. The church can accommodate about 5000. What is remarkable in the architecture is the central dome which has the Lord’s Prayer inscribed around it with gold letters. The name of the cathedral was changed to the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral between 1916 and 1920. However, its initial name was restored. The cathedral was proclaimed a monument of culture on 12 September 1924.
Museum of Icons
The crypt in the cathedral is turned into a museum of icons – so naturally and perfectly the two concepts are merged in the underground space of the temple-monument “St. Alexander Nevsky”. According to Christian tradition, “crypt” means “underground, usually arched, facility” that early Christians used as a refuge.
Today the Crypt is one of the most popular and renowned museum institutions in the country. It is included in all foreign tourist guides of Bulgaria and its visit is an integral part of the cultural program of all governmental delegations.Tens of thousands of visitors pass through it.
There is a Bulgarian icons museum located within the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is part of the National Art Gallery. It is believed that the museum contains the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe.
Every year the traditional holiday of the temple-monument are on the 30th of August when the relics of Alexander Nevsky have been moved from Vladimir town into Saint Petersberg and on the 23rd of November when the Saint passed away.
The cathedral is open for visitors every day from 7am to 5:30pm.