The best way to experience the city is through its people. But where do you meet them? Is there a place where all the locals get together? Luckily, in Sofia we have many places like this - the parks! Between March and October it's easy to get the feel of Sofia. Is this article you can find information about 5 parks in Sofia that locals love!
1. City garden
A.K.A. The park in front of the National theater. It’s the oldest park in Sofia and by far the most popular hangout place among the locals. The history of the park goes back to the 19th century when it was used as a garden for pumpkins, watermelons and sunflowers. After the Liberation it became the first space turned into a public park and it was named after Tsar Alexander II Liberator. In the beginning of the 20th century statues of naked women were put in the park as a decoration but this caused an outrage among the people so the statues had to me removed. Today, when spring comes, the City garden becomes a magnet for everyone who’s looking for a place to spend some time and meet new people.
2. Park of the Military Academy
This park is one of Sofia’s best hidden secrets. The fence of the park is unique as it was made in the 1930s with 1895 gun barrels used in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912 and 1913). The lake, which is empty nowadays, was shaped in the Bulgarian letter Ф (F) for King Ferdinand. In the park you can also find monument of the Bulgarian heroes Vasil Levski and Boris Drangov, a stage, used for opera concerts in summer and the magnificent building of the Military Academy.
Pro tip: it’s also a great place for wedding photos.
3. South Park
After its construction in 1980 this park became popular among the rich people who’re living in the area around it with two of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the city - Ivan Vazov and Lozenets. That means that if you’re lucky you can stumble upon a famous Bulgarian actor or a singer. Since 2002 a tribute festival for the blues musician Georgi “Gosho” Minchev called “A flower for Gosho” takes place. Every summer for 2 days the park gets a Woodstock feeling because all the rock and blues fans get together to commemorate Georgi Minchev with a wild open-air party.
4. Boris’s garden
On the lanes of Knyaz Boris’s Garden you can find many monuments dedicated to some of the greatest Bulgarians – poets. writers, revolutionaries etc. This is also the biggest park in Sofia with an area of 3 sq. km. Other than monuments, in the park there’s also the first man-made lake in the city – Ariana, where you can have a boat ride in the summer and ride ice skates in the winter. The observatory of Sofia University is hidden almost at the end of the park, just 5 minutes away from a huge Communist monument from which you get a great view at the city. Most importantly, Borisova Gradina attracts many locals, including families, young people and adults from different generations.
5. Sofia Zoo
The first zoo in Sofia was situated in a park in the city center where the Monument of the Soviet Army stands today . If you want to visit it you need to take the metro to Vitosha Metro station and then take a bus for a few minutes to get there. It’s the favorite place for most families with kids, because it’s very large and it has a big variety of animals that children just love! The first two elephants in the zoo were the male Nal and the female Damayanti. Nal was used to plow the King’s garden in one of his palaces for 16 years. They were everyone’s favorites. That’s why the symbol of Sofia’s Zoo is an elephant with a crown.
Let me know if you visit one or some of these parks and tell me what you think! Thank you for the support! Enjoy Sofia!