Sometimes one Free Sofia Tour is not enough to explore it all…
In such cases, should a tourist return, they may be astonished what they have missed. One example is the Museum of Natural History, which lies in the heart of the city.
Free Sofia Tour’s itinerary takes you right by it, but you won’t know of its existence until you see the skeleton of a gigantic prehistoric animal hiding in the eave next to the entrance.
Unfortunately, it is not as popular as we would wish with foreigners. Which is curious, given the fact that it is the oldest and richest of all natural history museums on the Balkan Peninsula, having a fascinating story of its own.
The museum was founded by the notorious Bulgarian tsar Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. For those of you who have not heard of him yet, he had quite the passion for birds, botany and …butterflies.
He had a vast collection of preserved animals, insects and plants, which was kept inside the building of the museum; as a matter of fact, Tsar Ferdinand’s collection was the museum’s first exhibit, held in 1907. Nowadays, the museum exhibits more than 1,000,000 items, comprises of various departments, has its own library and is responsible for many publications.
Should you visit this museum, you would learn more about Bulgaria’s fauna, flora, fossils, minerals and rocks, as well as those of other countries. So, if you have missed it on your visit to Sofia, you might want to include it in your next trip.
In preparation, you can also explore it through a virtual tour. This feature is available on the museum’s website.
The museum it is divided into four general departments: Vertebrates, Invertebrates, Paleontology & Mineralogy, and Botany. These are distributed among four floors (see scheme):
However, there is also a large gemology department. Since shiny stones and minerals are of course always fascinating, you can learn more about them by checking out the museum’s online gemology section. There, you will find more information about the main characteristics of gemstones– such as cut, color, and clarity. The gemology section also explains a number of interesting properties or phenomena possessed by different gems. Finally, you can use an interactive color selector, which will display all known stones of a color of your choice, as a fun interactive way to learn more about gemstones.