I believe you will come across this site even before your visit in Sofia – on the Internet or in a tour-guide book or somebody will recommend it to you. Yes, this is one of the symbols of our city, a remarkable building with great location and impressive historical background. This is the National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”.
The landmark is situated in the center of Sofia and is easily accessible. It has become a favorite place for gatherings of locals because of the peaceful park and the beautiful fountains in front. I believe you will be interested not only to feel the atmosphere outside but also to learn some facts from “behind the walls” of the theatre. I thought I knew the basic events, facts and dates related to the theatre but when I took part in Viktor’s Bohemian Sofia Tour I realized I never knew the most interesting ones.
The establishment of the theatre and the construction of the building followed the trends of cultural revival and development of Bulgaria in the end of 19th century. The theater was officially opened in 1907 but not only celebrations remained in history from that time. During the grand opening Knyaz Ferdinand (Prince of Bulgaria at that time) was hooted by students from the Sofia University – the biggest high school in Bulgaria. The reason was that Ferdinand attempted to interfere with the works of the university. As a result from the event he shut the school for 6 months.
In 1923 during a play a fire went off and destroyed the building completely. Fortunately, few years later it was reconstructed by a German architect and supplied with modern stage equipment. Two decades after that the building was partially damaged again after bombings during WWII. However, renovation of a building of such importance was a must.
Nowadays we enjoy not only the architecture of the building but also the amazing interior and decorations. The theater is still open and it hosts some of the greatest performances almost every evening. Spectators can still watch the first play that was performed on the stage of the theater – one of my favorites. And if you see the big hall from inside you will notice that all the seats are red. Except for two that are yellow. One of them was the favorite seat of the Minister of Education who signed the decree for the establishment of the theater. The other seat was usually taken by the person that the theater is named after today.
Who is Ivan Vazov?
If you decide to do a quick research you will probably come across a definition of this person as the “Patriarch of Bulgarian Literature”. That’s true, he is the author of numerous poems, some novels and articles. Actually, he wrote the first Bulgarian novel in the end of 19th century. For a short period of time he was a Minister of Education, as well. His house in Sofia is very close to the theater and he was a regular visitor of the performances played.
More than a century after its establishment the National Theater “Ivan Vazov” is still a major cultural landmark of Sofia and Bulgaria. The feeling of being among the spectators during a play is amazing! You could hardly see any empty seats and usually finding tickets for some performances is almost impossible. But even if you are not interested in getting inside the theater I am sure you will spend a nice time walking or relaxing around the building.