TRAVEL

SOFIA'S TEMPLES PART 2

They are all over Sofia; some with shining domes, some old and crumbling, and some housed in inconspicuous grey buildings. Through the many places of worship in Sofia you can trace back the history of the city for nearly two millennia, although many were only built during the last 150 years and bear the marks of wars and Communism.

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SOFIA'S TEMPLES, PART 1

They are all over Sofia; some with shining domes, some old and crumbling, and some housed in inconspicuous grey buildings. Through the many places of worship in Sofia you can trace back the history of the city for nearly two millennia, although many were only built during the last 150 years and bear the marks of wars and Communism.

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ALL QUIET IN BRASHLYAN

Trapped in a house in the village of Sarmashik, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire back in April 1903, a small group of Bulgarians were wondering what fate would bring in the next few hours. Rebel leader Pano Angelov and his men had been preparing a revolt against the Ottomans when they were betrayed. Thus they found themselves holed up in the house in Sarmashik – now famous as Balyuvata kashta, or Balyu's House – surrounded by Turkish soldiers.

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PRIZREN

It was a desecration. In the dead of night, somebody had placed a freshly severed pig's head at the door of the Muderis Ali Efendi mosque, one of the oldest and most visited mosques in Prizren. The Muslim Albanians decided to take their revenge on the usual suspects, the Catholic Albanians from the nearby church. Thus, between 1905 and 1908, the city experienced the notorious Three-Year Boycott of Catholic Shops.

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THE GARDEN OF THE PAST AND FUTURE

It is a small park, with old trees and a playground. The monument in its centre looks simple, with chipped stones and solid geometrical forms. Only when you get closer and really look at it can you see that there are names on the stones – hundreds of names.

The Doctors' Monument is dedicated to the Russian medical workers who died in the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war, which liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. As early as 1878 the fund-raising campaign started, and the monument itself was designed by the architects Antoniy Tomishko and Luigi Farabosco and built in 1882-1884.

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THE THICK RED LINE

If you thought that the most impressive monuments of the Communist regime were the nondescript suburbs of prefabricated blocks of flats – Lyulin, Mladost and Druzhba being just three of numerous examples in Sofia, you have a point – their message about uniformity, limitations and bad taste is very much evident today.

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POBITI KAMANI

Viktor Teplyakov, a "special missions officer" in the Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, abruptly reined in his horse at the sight of the six stone pillars. Huge in size, they emerged from the sandy, shrub-covered wilderness by the village of Gebedzhi, now a town called Beloslav, near Varna. Being a true child of the Romantic age, he was stunned. He wanted to dismount and look over the strange stone pillars. But Colonel L., who was leading the march, had no time to waste.

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NDK: GETTING CLOSER TO THE MASSES

In Sofia, there is only one place where you can see all the layers of modern-day Bulgarian society in just a couple of hours: the National Palace of Culture, or NDK. You don't even have to go into the massive building bedecked with billboards and notices. It is enough to hang around in the square in front.

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MOSTAR

Bosnia and Herzegovina has an area of only 51,000 sq km, or 19,700 sq miles, but it contains three of the best-known bridges in the world. Near the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The assassination prompted the Great War. The bridge over the Drina in Višegrad, which was built by Mehmed Paša Sokolović in 1577, is famous for a couple of reasons. Writer Ivo Andrić made it the main character in his book The Bridge on the Drina (1945) – and won the Nobel Prize for it.

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