Situated in Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia, the Alexander Nevsky cathedral is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world.
Russian architect Ivan Bogomolov drafted the original design of the building and inspired by the splendour of ancient Byzantium works the project was later taken over by Alexander Pomerantsev and assisted by Alexander Smirnov.
The cathedral’s gold-plated dome is 45 m high. The bell tower is an impressive 53m high and boasts 12 bells with a total weight of 23 tonnes. Cast in Moscow, the ‘tenor’ bell weighs 12 tonnes and the lightest only 10 kilograms!
The cathedral was planned a few months after the war ended when Sofia became the new capital of Bulgaria in 1879.(Veliko Tarnovo was the capital for 600 years) The foundation stone was laid in 1882 and the building was finished in 1912 but due to other world conflicts the official opening of the building was delayed until 1924.
The building covers 3,170 sq mtrs and is said to have room for 10,000 worshippers.Its interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, Indian alabaster and chandeliers from Munich.
Why was the Cathedral Built?
The cathedral was built to commemorate those who fought and died during the war for freedom and liberation. Also known as the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war. More than 200,000 Russian,Ukrainian, Belarusian and Bulgarian soldiers were killed in the battles that took place to free Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire who had ‘enslaved’ the Bulgarian nation for 500 years.
Who was Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Yaroslavich was a 13th-century Russian prince.
He became a war hero after military victories over Germany and Sweden and in particular the Swedish invasion into Russia.
His victory earned him the name ‘Nevsky’ which meant ‘of the river Neva’
It is believed he took monastic vows before his death and during the 1500’s was canonised and made a Saint.
The Russians honour St alexander Nevsky as one of the greatest Russians to have lived and Saint Alexander Nevsky happened to be the personal patron-saint of the Emperor Alexander II of Russia, who ruled the country during the liberation war of Bulgaria.
As a gesture of respect and gratefulness St Alexander Nevsky was the chosen saint as he protects all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Bulgaria.