The Advice of the Concierge: St George Rotunda
When visiting a country for the first time - or even during next visits when there is more time to go sightseeing - one is always willing to see the iconic places in the destination and get more insights about the spirit and culture of the country.
Each week our Chief Concierge Mario Iliev will take you for a walk round the most popular Sofia places which are a must to visit when you come to Bulgaria's capital.
The first place in this series selected by Mario is the oldest architectural monument in Sofia and the only preserved building dating back to Roman times - the beautiful St George Rotunda in the heart of the city.
Take the metro from Kempinski Hotel Zografski Sofia (metro station just 200 m from the hotel) and in 10 minutes only you will be right in front of the Rotunda.
The rotunda bears the name of St. George the Martyr who suffered for his faith in Minor Asia in the 3rd century, under the reign of Emperor Diocletian, who reigned in 284 – 305.
The red brick building is part of a big complex where you can see a 2000-year-old street with preserved sewage system, as well as remains from ancient buildings with preserved Roman hypocaust heating system.
The history of the rotunda is long and full of intriguing details. It was built at the beginning of 4th century, the period when Sofia (bearing the name Serdika at that time) was flourishing as one of the biggest and most significant Roman cities on the Balkan Peninsula. Emperor Konstantin the Great is believed to have pronounced the famous words "Serdika is my Rome".
Over the years the rotunda has been a baptistery where mass baptizing ceremonies took place; a mosque with the name Gyul Dzhamasi and even a mausoleum after the death of Prince Alexander Battenberg (reigned 1879 – 1886).
After the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 the Rotunda was deserted and restored only in 1915 when under the floral motifs painted during Ottoman rule, frescoes from 12th - 14th century were discovered.
Currently the visitors can see five layers of frescoes showing uncomparable art talent.
Do not miss to see this unique building and listen to liturgies to better understand Bulgarian culture and spirit!
Photos from Internet