The St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral, nestled in Sofia’s heart at an equal distance from the Sofia University and the National Assembly.
Alexander Nevsky is probably Sofia’s most eminent symbol and a chief tourist attraction. The shimmer of the cathedral’s domes (45 m in height) can be noticed from afar.
Erected in Neo-Byzantine style, it is Bulgarian Patriarch’s cathedral church, as well as one of world’s hugest Eastern Orthodox basilicas. Occupying an area of 3,170 sq. meters (approx. around 34,000 sq. feet), Alexander Nevsky can host 10,000 people in its gorgeous but rather dark inside. On the Balkan Peninsula, it comes second after the St. Sava Cathedral, situated in Belgrade.
The cathedral’s construction commenced in 1882, but the majority of the work was carried out in the period 1904-1912. The Orthodox temple was constructed to honor the Russian soldiers who lost their lives in the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, which liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman sway.
Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian, as well as other European architects and artists, participated in the construction and decoration of the cathedral.
The lighting fittings and marble parts were crafted in Munich; the metal elements for the cathedral’s gates were manufactured in Berlin; the gates were created in Vienna; and the mosaics came all the way from Venice.
In the cathedral’s crypt, there is a museum of Bulgarian coins, and there are claims that it is home to Europe’s biggest collection of Orthodox coins.
A case, exhibiting relics of Alexander Nevsky, a Russian prince, is situated to the left of the church’s altar. Despite that the accompanying plaque in Bulgarian simple refers to “relics”, the exhibited item is, in fact, a piece of a rib.