One of the most ancient traditions in Bulgaria is called “Baba Marta” (literally – “Grandma March”). It is a pagan tradition and we celebrate it on March 1. The symbol of this tradition is the martenitsa (link to wikipedia). The martenitsa is a piece of decoration in red and white, which has two main versions. The traditional one consists of two little dolls – Pizho, the male, is red and Penda, the female, is white. You would usually pin this on your clothes. The other version is a bracelet, made of one red and one white thread, which you can put on your hand. The colors of the martenitsa symbolize Bulgarian beliefs: white is for good health and red is for fertility and to scare away the bad spirits. On March 1 you exchange martenitsa with everybody that you know: family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances. When you give them the decoration you wish them everything you want to happen to them during the year. You recieve the martenitsi everyone gives you and you wear them till you […]
One of the most beautiful buildings in the heart of Bulgaria’s capital is not an administrative building, a palace, an art gallery or a temple. It’s a public bath. Or at least it used to be. Sofia’s Central Bath – past The public bath’s story starts a long time ago with the mineral water spring on top of which it was built. Centuries ago, when these lands were part of the Roman Empire, Romans already knew of the mineral water’s healing properties. They used it for SPA procedures as well as for drinking. In fact, the Roman city of Serdica – Sofia’s old name – was well-known in Roman times for its healing mineral waters. In the following centuries these precious territories became part of the Bulgarian states, but at the end of the 14th century everything was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans also had ways of using the water and as a result a hamam was built on the same place, where the public bath sits today […]
I am an inspired and motivated guide in a unique organization full of people always eager to keep moving forward with the belief that they are on their way to something magnificent and extraordinary. Being a part of such a team to me cannot be compared to anything else. It is something you’ve got to feel for yourself. How did everything start? Let’s go backwards. Well, I was at a point in my life when I seemed to have lost direction and I desperately needed a change. I couldn’t imagine anything better than meeting new people not only from Sofia, but from all over the world. Doing it as a volunteer adds even more value, especially if you are the type of person to whom money is just a means and not a final goal. And so it started. There was a lot of hard work involved: reading and getting prepared for an exam as if this is school or university. This exam, though, has nothing to do with familiar […]
February 14th is just around the corner. And the closer it gets, the more excited we are. Why? Because in Bulgaria, it is not merely a holiday – but a two-in one holiday! On this date we Bulgarians celebrate not only St. Valentine’s Day but also the Day of St. Triphon Zarezan – the feast of vine growing and wine producing. St. Valentine’s Day in Bulgaria? Although St. Valentine’s Day is not a traditional Bulgarian feast, for many people in Bulgaria February 14th is a very special day, because it involves a lot of romance and love. Over the last decades, we have embraced the well-known Western celebrations of St. Valentine’s Day – spending the day or evening with a loved one at a romantic place – a nice restaurant, a romantic dinner at home, the cinema or the theater… And couples who happen to have more free time (and money) indulge in a nice hotel with mineral water, spa procedures and massages, or with a short trip outside the country […]
One of the most remarkable buildings in Sofia is the Russian church Famous for its magical power to make wishes come true. It is located in the center of our capital, where the Georgi Rakovski street and Tsar Osvoboditel boulevard cross. Here are some interesting facts about the Russian Chirch: The Russian church Sveti Nikolay Chudotvorets (St. Nicholas the Wonderworker) was built in the period of 1907-1914 on a plot belonging to the Russian embassy. Architecturally the church was designed by Mikhail Preobrazhensky, who also built Orthodox temples in Tallinn and Florence. The initial purpose of the church was for it to serve as a private chapel of the Russian embassy to Bulgaria. Later priests of the Russian Orthodox Church started running it and transformed it into a meeting place of the Russian expat community in our country. In 1953 the chapel became a church of the Moscow patriarchate, which manages it to this day. The church has five golden domes with the central one soaring to a height of 19 meters. The bells were donated by Russian Emperor Nicholas II. The grave of Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev is located in the crypt under the altar. He was running both the temple and the Russian orthodox parishes in Bulgaria from 1921 until his death in 1950. He is considered a wonderworker, which is why thousands […]
Have you ever tried to figure out the public transportation system in Sofia? What to take, where to get a ticket, how to use it, how to get to the airport, train or bus stations? If so, you have come on the right place, because now we will introduce you to the public transport of Sofia and give you useful information on how to survive in the urban jungle. We hope it will help you “blend in” and not look like human on Mars when you get on a bus. So, hop on and let’s get started! Public transport exists in every good-sized city and Sofia is no exception. Although lots of Bulgarians prefer their cars to move around in the capital, there are people who still prefer to use the public means of transport. As a matter of fact, it is getting more popular and quite regular. Taking a ride in the Sofia public transport is a journey in space and time like no other and the only thing […]
It’s the beginning of February; winter holidays are (unfortunately) gone and well forgotten, so we at the Free Sofia Tour are already starting to think ahead. You might have seen us on the street, you might have seen us in the media, you might have heard someone tell you stories of us… If you haven’t, this is who we are and what we do. Remembering the hordes of inquisitive guests from all over the world that we welcomed in the last two summers, and utilizing our basic, yet sufficient math skills, we have come to the realization that we need a new group of fresh and enthusiastic people to join our team and help us make everyone happy this coming summer as well. Take a look at our poster and if you see yourself in it, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you see someone else in it, don’t hesitate to tell them not to hesitate to contact us as well!