The National Theatre is not only one of the most beautiful buildings in the center of Sofia but a place that’s brimming with life and youth energy. Its adjacent park is filled with dozens of people every evening in the spring and summer who play musical instruments or have a drink and a chat under the trees.
The National Theatre troupe was formed in 1904 by artists from the Salza and Smyah (“Tear and Laughter”) Company. Only in 1962, however, it got its contemporary name – Ivan Vazov National Theatre , after one of Bulgaria’s most renowned writers and poets. The beautiful building in which the troupe performs was officially opened in 1907. It was designed by two theatre architects from Vienna – Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner and although it was severely damaged by a fire in 1923, later it was reconstructed. Today it still looks as glorious as ever.
The Ivan Vazov National Theatre has three stages. A big stage with 780 seats and two balconies, a smaller stage with 135 movable chairs whose number varies depending on the performance and an additional stage on the 4th floor with 88 seats. The repertoire includes both original Bulgarian plays and world-famous titles adapted for the Bulgarian audience and performed by Bulgarian actors. The theatre program is very rich with usually two, or sometimes three, plays being performed simultaneously every evening. The theatre normally offers discounts on the ticket prices for students. Even without the discount, however, the fares are among the most affordable in Europe.
If you think your knowledge of Bulgarian is not sufficient for you to watch a play, don’t get disappointed. You can have a great time outside the theater in its adjacent square. It is famous for the big fountain across the theater building and the little park that attracts many people during the whole day. Sit down on a bench and have an ice cream or watch some old people play chess or listen to the sound of live street music in the evening – that’s one of the places where you can feel the true spirit of Sofia.