THE ARCHITECTS OF OLD CITY OF SOFIA
You can not help but be amazed by several private and public buildings that you will see while walking in the modern and fast-paced city of Sofia. Their architecture is characterized by an individual and intriguing style, carrying the spirit of the last century.
Who are the architects who have built Old Sofia and have created the appearance of some of the most emblematic buildings in the city?
Sofia was declared the capital of Bulgaria on April 3, 1879 and during that time the city had a population of about 12 thousand people, with muddy and crooked streets, small oriental shops, wooden and clay houses. Gradually, Sofia began to change its appearance beyond recognition, as many of the existing buildings with "oriental" architecture were one by one either rebuilt or erased forever.
Adolf Kolar (also known as Antonin Kolar) is the architect who has created the urban plan of the newly elected capital of Bulgaria. Among the most impressive buildings and monuments that he has designed or participated in are the Sofia University, the monument to Vasil Levski, the Ministry of War and the Military School, the First Central Station, the Officers' Club and many others.
Adolf Kolar was born in Bohemia, today's Czech Republic, and in 1878 he was elected as chief architect of Sofia with the difficult task of transforming its rural appearance into an urban one so the city can be worthy to be an European capital at that time. The beginning of the so-called Old Sofia was set. Architect Adolf Kolar, with his hard work and talent, marks the beginning of the history of modern European Sofia. The new urban plan of the architect is compliant to the American model - the streets divide the city into squares, in the areas of which can be accommodated up to 10 houses with yards.
Initially, 30 foreign architects have contributed to the European appearance and transformation of the center of Sofia: Austrians, Czechs, Russians, Italians and Germans, who have become the carriers of European influence and architectural concepts". Later on, notable Bulgarian architects have appeared, as in 1912 the number of architects in Bulgaria was 60 Bulgarians and 2 foreigners, and in 1935 they were already 380 people.
The first building in the style of true "secession" in Bulgaria is the work of architect Georgi Fingov. He often realizes his projects collectively - alongside other prominent Bulgarian architects such as Georgi Apostolov and Dimo Nichev. Some of the most significant public buildings of arch. Fingov are the building of 18 William Gladstone High School (Third Sofia High School at that time), the Museum of the Ministry of Interior (Maria Louisa School of Economics), the buildings of the Sofia Bank (now DSK) at 19 Moskovska Street and the former Corporate Commercial Bank (Garibaldi Square), and others.
However, the „master of secession“was architect Nikolay Lazarov. In his buildings, apart from the French secession, we can also find notes of French Baroque, as well as the touches of the French architect Hector Guimard. Together with Herman Mayer, Lazarov has finished the Evksinograd Palace (Varna city) and the Military Club in Sofia, as well as the design of the building of the Bulgarian Central Cooperative Bank in Sofia and the main building of the Vrana Palace near Sofia - the “Small Palace”.
A number of female architects have also left their mark in Sofia city. However, their fate was not easy, especially in the early twentieth century, when they tried to prove themselves and get a chance to work. Architect Victoria Angelova-Vinarova is a good example, as she has won the competition for the Sofia Library, the former Ministry of Public Buildings, Roads, and Public Works.
When it comes to memorable architecture, we can not miss the name of architect Georgi Ovcharov. His buildings are easily distinguished from the others by the complete lack of ornaments, scale, simple shapes, simplicity of the facades, and the use of colonnades. Among the works of architects, Ovcharov is the Faculty of Biology of Sofia University, the Ministry of Interior, the State Musical Theater, the Danube Bridge near Ruse-Giurgiu, and others.
This was an insignificant number of the names that have left their mark on the architecture and atmosphere of Sofia by creating beautiful buildings on which time has no effect. If you want to feel their spirit and talent, go for a walk in the city and enjoy the emblematic architectural style of another time.