The Russian Church “St. Nikolay” – Sofia City
The Russian Church officially known as the Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker is located in the center of Sofia city, at the intersection of Rakovska and Tsar Osvoboditel streets.
The church was built between 1907 and 1914 on the site of the Saray Mosque, which was destroyed in 1882, after the liberation of Bulgaria by Russia from the Ottoman Empire. This is a project of the Russian architect M. Preobrazhensky on the initiative of the Russian Embassy and on his land. The church is decorated in Russian Revival Style inspired by churches of the 17th century. It is one of the most remarkable buildings in the capital of Bulgaria.
The wall paintings are works of Russian artists, under the directions of Vasiliy Perminov. There are 4 icons on the iconostasis, which are copies of the icons in the Kiev cathedral “St. Vladimir”. The five small domes of the church are covered in gold, and the bells were donated by the Russian Emperor Nikolay the 2nd.
The construction was supervised by the architect A. Smirnov, who was building the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia nearby. The exterior decoration of multicolored tiles was done by G. Kislichev, and the interior murals were painted by a team of artists led by Vasily Perminov, who also painted those in Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The church remained open after the Russian Revolution and during the Communist period in Bulgaria (1944–1989), though priests and church-goers were carefully watched by the State Security police.
Until 1947 in the temple worked monks from the so-called Russian Orthodox church abroad and the temple was а center for the numerous Russian emigrants in Bulgaria. It was handed over to the diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate after 1947, who has been managing it to the present day.
The crypt housing the remains of Saint Archbishop Seraphim is located beneath the Russian Church's main floor. The archbishop was considered a miracle maker by many orthodox Christians. Even nowadays many people write letters to him, asking for help, and leave the letters near his grave, believing that he will help them. He led the Russian Orthodox communities in Bulgaria from 1921 to 1950.
The temple is visited by many tourists and is an obligatory stop in the journey of the Sofia landmarks acknowledgment.