It appears as though the exhaustion of the past few years finally caught up with me yesterday! I went to bed at 10 pm Friday evening and didn't wake until 1 pm on Saturday. I cannot recall a time in my life where I have ever slept for so long, but it was a very much needed, much appreciated rest! Fortunately yesterday was a rainy and windy day, not very conducive to exploring the city, so I didn't feel quite as guilty for not getting out to explore!
It is a beautiful day in Sofia and, this morning, I had the chance to go to the city's center and see some of its most popular attractions.
The following is the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. My pictures certainly do not do it justice (if you click on the link above you can see more pictures and read more about its history)! The inside of this church is absolutely breathtaking (unfortunately no pictures are allowed inside the cathedral so you will just have to take my word for it). The choir was singing while I stood inside and their beautiful music filled the cathedral. Every wall (and ceiling) is covered in beautiful paintings depicting the life of Christ and the atmosphere inside is one of complete reverence.
This is the St. Sofia Church, one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox churches in Bulgaria:
Next is the Russian Church, also known as St. Nikolai (again, much better pictures and history if you click on the link). This church was built in 1914 and was named after the Patron Saint of the Emperor who ruled Russia at the time (Nicholas II).
The following statue depicts Russian soldiers who helped to liberate Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. On March 3rd, Bulgarians celebrate Bulgarian National/Liberation Day. The day they were finally freed from Turkish rule.
This is the St. Cyril and Methodius National Library.
In front of the library you will see many vendors. These vendors are selling Martinitsa (red and white yarn adornments, given to family and friends to wear as a way of sending off Winter and welcoming in Spring). Tomorrow, March 1st, is Baba Marta (the official name for the holiday. . .its translation is Grandmother March). People wear the martinitsa until they see the first signs of Spring at which point many people hang them in the trees (I saw many martinitsa from previous years hanging in the trees as I walked around). This is a tradition that we hope to implement in our family as well!
Sofia is a beautiful city, rich in culture and history. Although my time in the city is limited, I have greatly enjoyed drinking it all in! We will be leaving Sofia early tomorrow morning to head to Lukovit, where I will meet Little Lady #2! It has been a year since I first saw my sweet little girl's face in a picture and I cannot wait to finally hold her in my arms and get to know the amazing little person behind that picture!