Walking down ‘Tsar Osvoboditel’ street you will see the beautiful gold domes of the so-called ‘the prettiest church in Sofia’. Its high dome, surrounded by four smaller domes, all made of gold harmonize perfectly with the roof of the church which is covered with green majolica tiles.
This is the church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker also known as the Russian church in Sofia. This extraordinary white and green building was designed by Russian architect Preobrajenski and built by Russian workers, some of them worked on the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, from 1912 until 1914.
The russian church was built in 1914 in Russian revival style. It is a copy of those Russian churches from 16th century. There are five small domes made of gold and the central dome is 19 meters high. The bells were donated by the Russian King Nikolay II. The exterior was recently renovated by the Moscow Patriarchate, which provided the gold.
The exterior of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker church is much prettier than the interior, which is rather modest and dim. But its frescoes are worth seeing. The frescoes were painted in the style of the Novgorod icon school.
More popular than the church itself is the crypt, accessed to the left of the main entrance. Here lies the tomb of the former Bishop Serafin, who died in 1950. Locals come here is droves to post hand-written messages into a box, standing to the right of the tomb. Although Serafin was never canonised, he is revered as a saint and believed to make prayers and wishes come true.
Something I like very much about this beautiful church is the contrast of the spirit of the church inside and the dynamic of the world outside. It is so amazing to see the way this quiet place collides with the lively and busy ‘Tzar Osvoboditel’ street, full of people and so full of life. One step inside and you are peaceful and free of everything material. One step outside and you will feel how life fills your veins.