Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church (Sofia)

Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church



Situated in the heart of Sofia this awe- inspiring church is one of the most important Orthodox churches. Ancient traditional go in hand with realistic frescoes by Russian artist Vasily Vasnetsov, Byzantine massiveness of the building and delicate carvings of the marble throne. Alexander Nevski combines different styles into a magnificent cathedral. Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church was started 5 years after Bulgaria got its independence and was finally finished in 1912. Devoted to a Russian Saint Prince this church also commemorates 200,000 Russian soldiers who fought and died for independence of Bulgaria in Russo- Turkish war of 1877- 78. For the lack of experienced craftsmen and architects designing and painting of murals was also made by Russians.


History and Description

The idea to erect a memorial church in honor of the liberation of Bulgaria and dedicate it to the Russian saint Alexander Nevsky was put forward on April 13, 1879 at a meeting of the First Constituent People’s Assembly in Veliko Tarnovo, Petko Karavelov. On February 26, 1881, the Central Construction Commission was formed with a committee attached to it; February 19, 1882 at the highest place in the center of Sofia, the laying of the temple was completed. The author of the original project was the architect Ivan Bogomolov, however, the implementation of the project was inhibited, and by the time the Bulgarian government again returned to the question of building the temple, Bogomolov died. Bogomolov's drawings were handed over to Alexander Pomerantsev, who substantially reworked the original design. Construction began only in 1904. The construction of the temple was led by a team of Russian and Bulgarian architects: A. A. Yakovlev, A. N. Smirnov, P. Momchilov, Yu. Miranov and others. The temple monument was built in 1912.

After Bulgaria entered the First World War in October 1915 on the side of the Central Powers on March 2, 1916, the Bulgarian National Assembly decided to rename the cathedral in honor of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which the official organ of the Russian Holy Synod was called "the great sin of Bulgaria." Upon the abdication of King Ferdinand from the throne in 1919, the Synod appealed to the government with a request to cancel the decision to rename the cathedral, the question of which was submitted to the Bulgarian National Assembly, which decided to return the cathedral to its original name. On September 12, 1924, on the day of memory of Prince Alexander Nevsky, Metropolitan Maxim of Plovdiv consecrated the main altar of the church in honor of the holy prince, and on the next day of the northern aisle - in the name of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and on September 14 - the southern aisle in the name of St. Tsar Boris .

Among the authors, 82 icons painted in oil, as well as 273 frescoes of the church, include 17 Russian envoys, including V. M. Vasnetsov, P. E. Myasoedov, A. I. Vakhrameev, A. M. Korin, A. A. Kiselev, N.A. Bruni, V.D. Bolotnov. Most of the mural painting belongs to the brush of the Bulgarian artist H. Tachev.

In 2014, after many years of negotiations, was transferred into the ownership of the Holy Synod of the BOC.