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LANDMARKS IN SOFIA

Next to the St. Alexander Nevski Memorial Temple is the National Gallery for Foreign Art - an elegant baroque building. Masterpieces of the world famous artists like Rodin and Picasso are exhibited in spacious rooms.

To the left of the gallery, amid everyday street traffic, stands the Vasil Levski Monument - an obelisk, which marks the site, where the national hero was hung by the Turks in 1873. It was created by Architect Anton Kolar and the Austrian sculpture Rudolph Weir. It was erected in 1891.

The Sts. Cyril and Methodius National Library was built from 1939 to 1944. The project was realized by architects Ivan Vasilyov and Dimitar Tsolov. It reminds one of an ancient Greek temple with neoclassical columns. The library owns the largest collection of books in Bulgaria and undoubtedly preserves the most valuable tomes. In 1972, a memorial (the work of sculpture Vladimir Ginovski) to Sts. Cyril and Methodius was erected in the garden in front.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOFIA is near the National Library. Its history began in 1882, when the will of brothers Evlogi and Hristo Georgiev was opened and it was understood that they had donated a parcel of land and a large sum of money for the construction of a university. The statues of the brothers are located on the two sides of the official entrance to the building now. In 1906 an international competition was held to award the project. It was won by the French architect Jean Breanson, who drew up the original plan for the educational centre the following year. The building wasn't completed until 1934 by the famous Bulgarian architects Yordan Milanov and Nikola Lazarov.

THE BULGARIAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY is located in the smart, white building just a minute's walk from the St. Alexander Nevski cathedral and the University of Sofia. It was constructed in 1884 and attracts the attention of passersby with its fine combination of Renaissance and Baroque elements.

Across from the National Assembly is THE MONUMENT TO ALEXANDER II - the Russian Emperor, who is known as "the Liberator" due to the fact that he declared war on the Ottoman Empire in order to liberate Bulgaria. The statue is the work of the Italian sculpture Arnoldo Zocci and was completed in 1907. Beside the statue of the Emperor, who is portrayed as a true soldier on a horse, two Russian Generals are also portrayed on the monument - Gurko and Skobelev - along with Bulgarian and Russian soldiers in battle, as well as the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty.

Another elegant building is located on the same plaza, THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES built by the Swiss architect Henri Meier. The idea for the founding of a home for Science and Culture is actually older than the building. Many Bulgarians, living in Braila, Romania and feeling nostalgic for their homeland, decided to gather money toward the opening of a cultural reading centre in Sofia. The Apostle of Bulgarian Freedom, Vasil Levski, also donated funds. At the beginning the building housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian and the Austrian embassies, which are now located next door to the Academy.

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