The National Palace of Culture is an emblematic building for the Bulgarian capital – Sofia and it is located in the center of the city. It is pleasant to sit on one of the benches around, watch the fountains and relax.
The building has 13 halls which are used for various cultural events. The biggest hall here, known as ‘Hall 1’ has 4000 seats. Here, a lot of concerts of Bulgarian and foreign musicians have taken place. Bob Dylan, Sting, Joe Cocker, Jose Carreras, Gary Moore and Nigel Kennedy are some of the world-known stars that have performed in this hall.
In the 1970s, the idea for building a big cultural center arises. In 1975, the research work for the project started. Nowadays, this is the central part of the city, but in those years there were a few military and industry buildings on the place of the National Palace of Culture. If you find old pictures of Sofia, you will see that there was nothing interesting or pleasant to see here. The National Palace of Culture nowadays might not be the most beautiful building in Sofia, but it has a big role in the cultural life of the city, just as it was supposed to have.
At first, an opera theater was to be built here, but the project failed. Then, it was decided that this place should be used for a building with a multicultural function.
The building process started on 25th May 1978. The official opening was on 31st March 1981, but the last building stage ended in 1985.
The citizens of Sofia in those years participated actively in the building of the National Palace of Culture. They were forced to work 1 day for free and help in the construction. Most of them, however, really wanted this building in the city and also helped with significant financial donations.
The National Palace of Culture houses numerous paintings of some of the best Bulgarian artists. If you are a lover of this type of art, you will enjoy this beautiful collection.
One of the most conflict topics, connected to the National Palace of Culture, is the monument ‘1300 years Bulgaria’. It is quite unattractive, mainly because the lack of maintenance. For the same reason, it is falling apart and is dangerous. That is why there is a fence around it, which prevents people from going too close to it. Having such an ugly thing in front of a building with such a cultural importance is absurd and this topic has been discussed by the community many times. There are a few projects for the restoration of this monument, but still a final decision has not been taken.
The National Palace of Culture is one of the symbols of Sofia and a stage for many cultural, educational and trade events. Many citizens of the capital love spending their free time around this building. There are a lot of benches and trees here and good conditions for skateboarding and rollerblading. So, you will see people of all ages in and around the palace.
If you love shopping, you should know that the building often houses various trade fairs – for Bulgarian goods, for leather products, for cosmetics, clothes, wines, books and many others. During those events you can find some small, not that popular, local producers who offer quality products. This is also a good opportunity to buy a nice souvenir from Bulgaria.
Close to the National Palace of Culture, the ‘Lovers Bridge’ is located, where interesting collections of photos and paintings can be often seen.
This palace can be called ‘the cultural heart of Sofia’, because many of the most interesting and significant events take place here – in or outside the building. In the warm months, there are a lot of concerts around the palace. In the nearby restaurants and cafes you can have a nice meal or drink.
The convenient location of the National Palace of Culture allows you to continue your walk on ‘Vitosha’ boulevard, where you will find a lot of shops and restaurants. If you are still in the mood for sightseeing, you can reach in 10-15 minutes walking other interesting buildings like the Presidency, the National Theatre ‘Ivan Vazov’ and others.
The most convenient way is to use take subway and get off on 'National Palace of Culture' station.