Summer evenings in Sofia

Venue: Sofia city centre

Lens: Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4 VR – mostly using the 24mm end

Music: Poduene blues band – There’s no beer / Подуене блус бенд – Няма бира (

The summer started very busy for me with travels and plenty of football games to watch, but finally at the end of Euro’2016 I had several free nights where I could enjoy the beautiful evening weather of Sofia. Due to the proximity of Vitosha mountain the evenings and nights are always relatively cool here, at most 20-25 degrees Celsius. So on several occasions I went out for a walk around the city centre with friends and family, who were patient enough to endure me taking some long-exposure evening shots. Here I present you in a random order some of the main evening sight of Sofia with short comments, squeezing also some older pictures to show how seasons change the city.

Starting off at the heart of Sofia – the walking part of Vitosha boulevard, with its newly acquired statue of Aleko Konstantinov at one end.
The evenings get quite busy here, with people walking around and sitting in the countless cafes, bars and restaurants. Strangely enough on this photo it looks like every single person is walking towards me and the old guy at the front, which is statistically extremely unlikely to happen at this place. Maybe they were after me!
Close to the Aleko Konstantinov statue on Vitosha boulevard is the small park around the National Palace of Culture (NDK) that you see at the back here. The palace of culture and the fountains in front were built back in 1981, in a very recognizably communist style. Still it ended up being a very nice place to hang out in the evening with the recent renovations after which the fountains actually work. Further down I will show you how the NDK looks in different seasons as I often pass by and make pictures here.
The same fountains in front of NDK, but with a view to the opposite direction. In case people around manage to forget the fact we turned into capitalism several decades ago already, you always have the large neon signs of McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Tuborg and the rest to remind us.
A flashback of several months ago just to show you how the NDK looks like without the running water in the fountains. This is on a foggy night in January, with no people around.
A more spooky version with my 70-200mm lens, still in winter. In case you didn’t appreciate the dark communist side of this place on the previous photos..
Already in spring with my 50mm lens: still with no water in the fountains but with many people enjoying the nice weather, and clear view to the closest peak of Vitosha mountain, Kamen del (1862m above sea level).
Moving to the smaller streets of Sofia – this is Slaveikov square, which is also very close to Vitosha boulevard and might be considered the exact centre of Sofia. Here one can see the strange pattern made by the lights of a bike passing by on the tram tracks.
Still at Slaveikov square, which during the day hosts many  is a first and second-hand book market. The book-stalls and chairs of the salesmen are folded and stored at night.
A hundred meters down the tram tracks from Slaveikov square is the Sv. Sedmochislenitsi church, which also hosts a small park with benches and places to hang out in the evening. The patron saints of the church are the people who were involved in making up the cyrilic alphabet, which includes the brothers Cyril and Methodius and their students.
On the side of the church there is a small fruit and vegetable market, with trams passing by frequently until late evening.
This is the National theater Ivan Vazov, with another small park and fountains in front. In my opinion this is the pretties place in Sofia with a very original atmosphere as there are always tons of people chatting and drinking outside on the benches. On one side of the park one can always find many people playing chess and betting on the winners of the games.
A cocktail bar in yet another tiny garden in the streets between Vitosha boulevard and Slaveikov square. It is clear that the people of Sofia like having a drink outside in the small green corners still left intact in the city. Fortunately there’s also plenty of beer around, even if the guy in the song I linked on top doesn’t seem to agree.
Less greenery to be seen here: this is “Independence square” which hosts all the main governing institutions of Bulgaria. The building on the right hosts the president, the one on the left the prime minister and the one in the centre is the national assembly. The centre building is more popular as the “party house” as it used to be the home of the communist party back in the day. The square and surrounding buildings were built back in 1955 and define the true old school communist architecture in Bulgaria. The glass dome on the left side of the photo is instead newly acquired and uncovers beneath it the ancient ruins of Serdica – the Roman town that lies in the foundations of present day Sofia. As you see on the photo at the very top at this place my friends decided to contribute to some more original photos and move a cellphone in different shapes that would remain on the long-exposure shots. They of course came up with many other less romantic shapes and signs but I chose to only show you the version with the heart!
One one edge of Independence square you can see better the presidency and the small fountain in front, which changes shapes and colors.
A more classic color that maybe fits better in the surroundings.
Of course no photo-tour of Sofia would be complete without the biggest orthodox church/cathedral in Bulgaria – Alexander Nevsky. This summer it will also be the setting of an open-air opera scene that is being built on one side, while on the left one can also see the historic building of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. At night the space around the cathedral is actually quite deserted, with only the occasional car or this case tourist bus driving around.
Another version of the Nevsky cathedral, shot this winter with my 70-200mm lens. Depending on the angle, the season and the available light, the cathedral can look very different, but it always remains the most recognizable and famous building in Sofia.

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