Tsurka Sveta Nedelya (Света Неделя)
The square, Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya, once named after Lenin (Lenin Square, Ploshtad Lenin), is now named after the church that is located there. There was once a commanding figure of Lenin but that, too, has been replaced by a 24m (79ft) bronze statue of the pagan goddess and protectress of the city, Sophia holding the symbols of wisdom and fame. The square itself is a powerful reminder of conflicting tendencies in Bulgarian history and society: paganism and Christianity, Communism and capitalism, atheistic Communism and Christianity. The most significant landmark here continues this contrast: the church of Sveta Nedelya, an oasis of peace, in the turmoil of bristling activity; Christianity versus capitalism. These conflicting tendencies are the conflicts of all time, both in society and within man himself. Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya: microcosm of modern society and man.
This is the ideal location to begin exploring Bulgaria's fascinating capital city, its monuments and history. To the south of the square lies Sofia's main shopping street, Bulevard Vitosha and north of the square lie the Balkan Sheraton Hotel and Tzum Shopping Centre and to the east of the square lie the main tourist attractions. North of the square lies bulevard Knyaginya Mariya Luiza leading to Sofia's main train and bus stations with more places of interest for the tourist on the way.
The tourist carries within these conflicting tendencies of humanity. After being immersed in the turmoil of Sofia, after the hustle and bustle of a hectic shopping spree on the Vitosha Boulevard in the heart of Sofia or after the crowded environment of Sofia's public transport the tourist, on entering the church of Sveta Nedelya, is plunged into a completely different world. When entering the church the tourist suddenly leaves behind the mundane world of the crowded streets and experiences spiritual calm and peace. The subdued light, candles, icons, silence, recollection and sense of sacredness offer a refreshing experience of a different world, the world of the spirit, so often suffocated in the hectic routine of modern daily living. The church is an image and reminder that the Christian, like the church building he, too, is very much in the world but not of the world, to use the expression of St Paul.
The sacredness of the site where the church of Sveta Nedelya now lies has stood the test of time and survived many adverse circumstances reflecting those conflicts within man and society. It is a symbol of the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of the spirit over the more mundane aspects of life, of faith over atheism.
A church has stood here since medieval times but not this particular building, which dates from mid 19th century. Until then the church there was a timber construction, the history of which is unknown. The present building is the last of a series of churches built on that site. During the Ottoman period the church there bore the name of the Blessed King (Sveti Kral, Свети Крал). It got its name from the relics of the Serbian monarch Stefan Uroš II Milutin of Serbia that were kept there. Sofia, at that time, was under Serbian rule. The relics had been preserved in various areas of Bulgaria but were finally housed there. The relics are now in a wooden casket near the iconostasis.
The church that then stood on this site was demolished in April 1856 to make way for the work on a new, more elaborate building. Two years later, in 1858 an earthquake delayed construction of the new building which was not completed until 1863. The new church was consecrated in 11th May 1867. The church has undergone several changes and additions over the years including a new belfry in 1879 and new domes in 1898. None of this now remains as the building suffered significant damage at the hands of militant communists in 1925 when well over 100 people are said to have lost there lives (some sources say 123, others over 150 people). The bombing was by extreme left wing communist militants in 1925, members of the BCP (Bulgarian Communist Party) financed by the Soviet Union. The incident took place during the funeral service of General Konstantin Georgiev, another victim of militant communists. The funeral service was attended by royalty and government ministers. The main dome was destroyed and buried all those who were inside the church directly under the dome. Tsar Boris III was not present at the funeral. There is a plaque to commemorate this act of terrorism.
The Exarch Joseph I was buried here in 1915.
During services on Thursday mornings the people are blessed for protection against against black magic.
On Saturdays weddings are celebrated.
Daily liturgy 08:30 and 16:00
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The Square Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya and Church of Sveta Nedelya
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