Sofia’s National Archaeological Museum occupies a central spot in Bulgaria’s capital in close vicinity to the Presidency.
It is inside the oldest and largest, former Ottoman mosque (Koca Mahmut Paşa Camii) in Sofia.
The National Archaeological Museum of Sofia boasts five exhibition halls. Besides the Central Hall, there are also halls for Prehistory, middle Ages, Treasury, as well as a hall for special temporary exhibitions. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is in charge of the complex.
The mosque’s construction was incepted in 1451 by grand vizier Veli Mahmud Pasha. Owing to his death in 1474, the completion of the temple was postponed until 1494.
From 1880 to 1893, the edifice served as the National Library, and in 1893, it was turned into a museum and a separate entity under the direction of the Czech Václav Dobruský.
The National Archaeological Museum official inauguration and opening occurred in 1905 when all archaeological exhibits, previously maintained across the city, were transported there. This happened in the presence of Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria and Ivan Shishmanov, Minister of Enlightenment.
The following years experienced the addition of several other halls and museum administrative buildings.
Prehistory – Positioned in the northern wing’s lower floor, this hall exhibits a collection of archaeological items stemming from 1,600,000 BC and 1,600 BC. Chronologically shown, the collection comprises of diverse findings gathered from caves around Bulgaria, including ritual items, drawings, pottery, and many others.
This collection is divided into 6 sub-collections – Early, Middle, and Late Palaeolithic, Chalcolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age.
Medieval Section – Nestled on the main building’s second floor, the gallery exhibits medieval books, drawing, woodwork, metal objects, and other items characteristic of this era.
Treasury – Finding its location in the museum’s eastern wing, the collection unites grave inventory and treasures originating from the Late Bronze Age to Late Antiquity. Two of the most eminent Bulgarian treasures are displayed there – the Lukovit and the Valchitran Treasures.
Main Hall – Situated on the main building’s first floor, this hall’s collection includes items as diverse as ancient Thrace, Rome, Greece, and the late Middle Ages.