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Alexander Nevski Crypt
The St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral Crypt in Sofia homes the largest exposition of Bulgarian Old and Medieval Christian Art. Numerous icons, murals and artifacts follow the development of Christian Art in these lands from the beginning to the Revival Period.
The exposition in the Crypt was set comparatively late, back in the 1960s. This is the time when aggressive atheism under socialism softened and medieval religious art was no longer viewed as a means of religious propaganda but rather as national cultural heritage. The changes enabled a joint project among various museums and collections in Bulgaria and thanks to their collaboration we can nowadays enjoy a thorough exposition of Orthodox art in its full entity and diversity.
Key role is played by iconography. Monumental and applied arts are only marginally introduced and the Crypt holds no claims for full chronological and contextual presentation. The exhibits are more or less only illustrations of the functionalities and the diversity of these types of art.
Icons are of major importance in Orthodox Christianity and as such they have followed closely the cultural and social life of the periods in which they were created. The Crypt holds unique samples of ceramic icons from the early Christian times, high quality icons from the 13-14th c., lavishly decorated 16-17th c. icons from various regional schools, and last but not least, the beautiful works of the Revival period iconographers. It is exciting to see how different schools emerged and developed and how trends from abroad were integrated in what was then considered one of the most conservative arts.
Though Orthodox art claims to be a special medium in which spirit prevails over body, it still possesses a purely physical and visual appeal. There is no need to know the complex language of iconography and the dogmatic foundations of this art. The beautiful lines, the bright colors, the elegant decorative elements and impressive artwork will undoubtedly touch the heart and mind of any visitor. The exhibition in the Crypt is part of a mystical universe in which the divine and the human are presented in a solid unity.
Open every day except Mondays from 10:00 till 18:00.
Discounts apply for groups, students and senior citizens as well as combined passes. Guided tours (please inquire in advance about prices and languages) are available at extra charge.