The Alexander Nevski Memorial Church in Bulgaria

Hram-pamefnik Aleksandar Nevski (The St Alexander Nevski Memorial Church) is virtually the most notable edifice in Sofia, and the country as well, and a brilliant masterpiece of architecture and art. The temple was conceived and erected in commemoration of the immense victory gained, and in order to pay homage to the Russian people and the 200,000 Russians fallen in the Russo – Turkish War of Liberation from five centuries-long Ottoman bondage. The site of construction was knowingly chosen to be on the highest place of the downtown area and up to the present day this sanctuary has really been the feature to dominate within the comprehensive scene of the city. The temple was built to the designs and under supervision of the St Petersburg architect and academician A. N. Pomerantsev, co-opted Bulgarian architects were Petko Momchilov and Yordan Milanov, and the work lasted from 1904 through to 1912; consecration occurred on 12-14 September 1924.

The Alexander Nevski Memorial Church has been laid out as a cruciform five-nave basilica, with a roof covered all-over with domes, semi-domes and vaults, as a whole, implemented after the Russian churches’ fashion but strongly influenced by Byzantine styles, either. Overall dimensions include: 73.5 m in length, 52.2 m in width, 52 m in height (exclusive of the cross atop), and 3,170 square meters of floorage. The church is fitted with twelve bells, with the heaviest of them weighing 11,757 kg. The domes glisten in their gold foil coating. Most expensive materials have been employed for the construction, with all of these supplied from all over Bulgaria and from a number of foreign countries.

Embellishments of the interior have resulted from the strenuous labors of a host of roughly fifty Russian and Bulgarian icon-painters and decorators, to include the Czech painter Ivan Murkvichka; a wealth of 82 icons and 273 wall paintings, in total, are hiding inside. No doubt whatsoever, the most worthless and really magnificent masterpieces of icon painting are these ofV. M. Vasnetsov, Ivan Murkvichka and Anton Mitov. The patron saint of the temple was portrayed by Prof. V. E. Savinski, while God Sabbaoth, overlooking the congregations down on the church floor from beneath the main vault, was bestowed upon us by the master-hand of Prof. P. E. Myassoyedov. The three altars have been assigned, as follows: the central one to St Alexander Nevski, the two laterals as appropriate to SS Cyril and Methodius, and to St Prince Boris. The central pendant chandelier weighs 2.5 tonnes.

The basement of the temple, accessible from outside, carefully houses the crypt, worth mentioning for its rich collections embracing a total of over 200 most valued icons, gathered here from all over the country, with the best part of them having repeatedly caught the eyes and imagination of many people, while participating in exhibitions in over 20 countries worldwide.

Compared to the size of the city and the country as a whole, achievements in planning the design, erection, in – and outdoor adornment details of the temple and so forth, have rendered dumbfounded a multitude of visitors and will, no doubt whatsoever, continue to do so in future.

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