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Saint Nicholas -
Russian Church of Saint Nicholas that stands in the
centre of Sofia was build by the Russian embassy of
Sofia for its employees from 1907
till 1914. Without a doubt it has very Russian features and differ from
all other Bulgarian churches that you will see in Sofia. After Revolution of 1917 Russian immigrants regarded this church as
symbol of their faith. Recently canonized Saint Seraphim (Sobolev) is buried in
the underground section of the church. The door to the crypt is on the
western side of the church. Orthodox and non- Orthodox alike come and
write letters to the saint so that he can help them with problems.
Judging from personal experience and several friends’ this somewhat
weird tradition actually helps.
History First project At the end of the
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, a significant Russian community was
formed in Sofia, consisting mainly of Russian experts. Then there
were plans to build a separate temple for her.
In 1882, the
city authorities provided a plot of 1400 square meters on the site
of the destroyed then mosque. The committee created for the
construction of the temple began to collect donations. The laying of
the temple was planned in 1902. However, for various reasons (mainly
political), it was postponed.
All this time, members of the
Russian community have been praying in a hall located at a
Modern temple The laying of the modern
church took place on September 2 (15), 1907 in the presence of Grand
Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, Bulgarian Prince Ferdinand with the
heir to the throne, Boris.
The author of the project is
Mikhail Timofeevich Preobrazhensky. By 1911, the building was ready
in draft, but the decoration and painting continued for more than
The consecration of the church on November 11
(24), 1914, was led at the request of the Bulgarian Exarch Joseph
(Yovchev) (then in schism), Metropolitan Dorostolsky and Chervensky
Vasily (Mikhailov), co-served by members of his Synod and the
Russian clergy (which violated the old line of the Russian Synod to
prevent concession) .
When Bulgaria entered the First World
War in October 1915 on the side of the Central Powers (against
Russia), diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Russia were
interrupted, the diplomatic mission and the Russian clergy were
evacuated to Russia, the church service was stopped.
January 2, 1920 until the beginning of 1923, the Russian diplomatic
mission of the government of General Anton Denikin, headed by
Alexander Petryaev, operated in Sofia; she was charged with
protecting the interests of Russian refugees and the Russian church
in Bulgaria. After the mission was closed, its property, along with
the property of the church, was sealed by a commission appointed by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Confessions of Bulgaria.
The temple, which was in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, continued to operate, but without its
property and archive - until 1933, when, in anticipation of the
establishment of Bulgarian-Soviet diplomatic relations, the
government of the People’s Bloc decided to transfer the church
property to the Father Superior of the Russian Church in Sofia, N.
Vladimirovsky . After intense negotiations on the conditions for
establishing diplomatic relations, on September 15, 1934, the church
at the Embassy of the USSR was transferred for temporary use to the
Bulgarian state through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Confession; On December 18 of the same year, the Ministry
transferred the church and all its property to the Sofia
Metropolitanate of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
establishment of the pro-communist government of the “Patriotic
Front” in Bulgaria, in June 1946, the Soviet Union allowed some
Russian emigrants to accept USSR citizenship, which allowed them to
be transferred for temporary use for worship. On December 28, 1946,
after restoration and repair, the temple was transferred to the
jurisdiction of Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), who administers the
parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bulgaria (formerly in the
episcopate of ROCOR). The latter was buried in the crypt of the
temple in 1950.
Since November 1952 it has the status of the
courtyard of the Moscow Patriarchate in Sofia.
work was carried out to restore the murals of the temple, in 1982,
the iconostasis was re-gilded. New repairs were made in 1994-1996.
Architecture, decoration In terms of plan, the temple is a
pillarless quadruple with adjoining altar and side rooms, as well as
a porch-porch with a gable roof made of green glazed tiles. Above
the entrance is a majolica image of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
The cylindrical drum of the dome ends with a tent, which is also
covered with irrigation tiles and crowned with a gilded head with a
cross. The tent is surrounded by four gilded onions, towering above
the crown of kokoshniks.
The wide frieze is made up of
multi-colored tiles. Window frames are made of white stone.
The mural was made in the traditional Russian style under the
direction of V.T. Perminov. The painting was done in tempera in matt
The majolica iconostasis was made in St. Petersburg.
Church bells are given from Emperor Nicholas II.
Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) was buried in the crypt of the temple,
his tomb in 1987 was decorated with marble.