St Sofia Church - Bulgaria
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The legend tells that a princess named Sofia arrived to the city. She was sick but eventually healed, recovered and then built the church as a sign of gratitude and praise of God. When she died she was buried in it.
During the ages the church was destroyed by the Huns and the West Goths, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman occupation, used as an execution ground, an army storage space and later accommodated the city's Fire Brigade. At least 2 earthquakes hit it heavily and human efforts did even more. The most interesting thing however is that the St Sofia Church could never be completely destroyed - whenever people tried to do this, someone died, so eventually they gave up.
The most significant reconstruction works on the temple started at the beginning of the last century and were completed in 1936, with functions and service renewed in 1930. It is believed that this is the first ever restored archeological monument in Sofia. The most recent conservations and renovations though ended only 12 years ago. They brought back the grandeur of this ancient temple in the shape we see it now - a beautiful antique gem of spiritual nature, surrounded by greenery and peaceful ambiance in the administrative center of Sofia, a stone-throw from the 'younger' glorious Alexander Nevsky Cathedral cathedral.
The St Sofia Church stands in the middle of an ancient cemetery with many tombs under and near it. Some of these have been uncovered and will hopefully be conserved so that we can see the beautiful wall frescoes and the stone sarcophagi. The present building of the church itself has the shape of a cross basilica. During the numerous reconstructions and transformations the church architecture has undergone many changes but modern architects have done their best to restore the main features. One of these is the beautiful window array which provides the grace and lightness of the façade as well as the lighting inside.
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