Saint Nedelya Church (Holy Sunday Church) (Sofia)



Church of Saint Nedelya or Holy Sunday is located in the center of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. It was constructed on the site of the ancient Roman ruins. The history of the earliest years of the cathedral is little known. It is likely that the original structure was built in the X century and had a stone foundation and wooden walls. The church is mentioned in travel notes of the German traveler Stefan Gerlach , who visited Sofia in 1578 .

Around 1460, the relics of the Serbian king Stephen II Milutin were transferred to Bulgaria. They were preserved in various churches and monasteries. Finally, they were placed in the Cathedral of Holy Week after this church became cathedral in the 18th century . After that, the church received a new name - the Church of the Holy King ( Bulgarian. Sveti Kral ). So she was called in the late XIX - early XX centuries. The building remained wooden until the middle of the XIX century - unlike most other Sofia churches.

After the fire, the former building was dismantled on April 25, 1856, in order to build a more impressive cathedral in its place. The construction of a new building, 35.5 meters long and 19 meters wide, began in the summer of the same year. An unfinished building was damaged by the earthquake of 1858 , which extended the construction period, which eventually ended in 1863 (architect Ivan Boyanin). The consecration of the new cathedral took place on May 11, 1867 in the presence of 20,000 people. The new bell tower was built with the placement of 8 bells, donated to the church by Prince Dondukov-Korsakov in 1879 .


In 1925 Communist party of Bulgaria carried out a terrorist act against the Royal family. Fortunately the family left the church when this happened. Unfortunately 200 people were killed by the bomb that was planted underneath the dome of the church. The roof and new domes were replaced in neo- Byzantine style that was designed by architects Tsolov and Vasiliev.

Saint Nedelya Church (Holy Sunday Church)  Saint Nedelya Church (Holy Sunday Church)

Before and after the explosion of 1925


History and architecture
Holy Sunday Church is the cathedral of the Metropolitan of Sofia. It occupies the site of the old Kurucheshme Square, which is famous for its spring, overshadowed by centuries-old trees. Today, the square is called Holy Sunday.

In the nineteenth and first decades of the twentieth century, the temple was also called "Saint King" because it housed the relics of Serbian King Stefan Uros II (1282 - 1321). Around 1460, during a plague epidemic, Metropolitan Silvani of Sofia transferred them from the village of Trepche, north of Pristina, to the present-day Lyulin Monastery "St. Cyril and Methodius "(also called" St. King "). They were subsequently transferred sequentially to the "St. St. George, in the church "St. Disembodied Forces "(or" St. Archangels "), at the Metropolitan Church of St. Marina. " Probably at the beginning of the eighteenth century the temple "St. Sunday "became metropolitan and the relics of the Serbian king were transferred to it.

Probably the original church was built in the 10th century and like other temples of Sofia at that time it had stone foundations, and upwards with a wooden structure. In this form, the temple existed until the mid-19th century.

In the early 1950s, the Metropolitan of Sofia and the Sofia City Church decided to build a new cathedral. On May 7, 1856, the construction of the new church began. It is a three-nave basilica with a length of 35.5 meters and a width of 19 meters.

In the autumn of 1863 the construction of the new church was completed (architect Ivan Boyanin). Its decoration lasts for several more years and this slows it down. From 1863 to 1865 the carver Anton Stanishev made the iconostasis. Part of the iconic icons is painted by the great painter Stanislav Dospevski. The consecration of the temple takes place in 1867 on the feast of 11 May.

During the interim Russian rule (1877 - 1879) Prince Alexander Dondukov-Korsakov donated to the temple a set of 8 bells of different sizes. The small bell towers proved unfit for them, and in 1879 a new bell tower was built in the southern part of the temple courtyard.

At the end of the 19th century, in the face of large-scale urban changes in the center of the capital, the church board decided to strengthen the surrounding terrain and give a more representative appearance to the temple. The design was commissioned in 1898 by architect Nikola Lazarov. For three years, a grand redevelopment has been completed. A magnificent bell tower is being built on the west side of the temple. The three domes and the roof were gradually taken down, replacing five new domes - one large central, flanked by four smaller ones. All temple walls are lined with brickwork. The terrace on which the church appears after regulation of the level of the surrounding streets is also strengthened. Wide stairs to the north, west and south have been built.

Exarch Joseph I died on June 20, 1915. He was buried on the south side of the temple, near the side altar door. Three years later, Metropolitan Partenius of Sofia, who is buried on the north side of the temple, rests.

The church became famous during the attack on April 16, 1925, during the funeral of General Konstantin Georgiev, when it was destroyed. 193 people were killed and about 500 were injured. It is believed to be the most serious terrorist act in the history of Bulgaria, and at that time in the world.

After this bloody terrorist act of the Bulgarian Communist Party, the church board assigned the architectural bureau “Vasilyov-Tsolov” (architect Ivan Vasilyov and architect Dimitar Tsolov) to rebuild the temple. Renovation began in June 1927. By the spring of 1933, a nearly new, huge central dome temple was built, with a length of 30 meters, a width of 15.50 meters, and a height with a dome of 31 meters. The surviving two-row gilded iconostasis was returned to the temple. The altar portion of the new temple was significantly expanded, leaving three thrones again: central - in honor of the Holy Martyr Sunday; north - in honor of St. Michael the Archangel and south - in honor of the Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen. In front of this southern throne is a chest with the relics of St. Stephen Milutin. Near it is a carved bishop's throne made by Ivan Travnicki. In the western part of the temple are the narthex, baptistery, office of the temple and candlestick. Under the dome of the belfry are hung 11 bells - 8 donated by Prince Dondukov-Korsakov in 1879, two made in Serbia and one cast in Bulgaria.


The temple was solemnly consecrated on April 7, 1933. The mural decoration was made from 1971 to 1973 by an artistic team led by Nikolay Rostovtsev.

In 1992-1994, the temple floor was renovated and the northern colonnade was glazed. And in 2000 the exterior facade of the temple was completely cleaned. In 2002, a bell beater was installed in the belfry.