I've heard many times that when Bulgaria became independent country in 1878, all the town was rebuilded from scratch. After the Russo-Turkish War, architects from Austria–Hungary were invited to shape the new architectural appearance of Sofia, which was chosen to be a new capitol. But what intrigues me is that people with who I've talked about it claim it was completely demolished by Bulgarians after the liberation, not during any battles. The reason provided to me by tourist guides was that Bulgarians wanted to make a modern town their own way, without Turkish influence like it was previously. I know that Turkish mosques were demolished by Russian engeeners, yet sources I've found don't speak about secular buildings. According to Bulgarian wikipedia, ( http://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/София ), Bulgarian and Jews together were around 90% of town citizens before the war, so that explanation sounds unsatisfactory for me, as even without Turkish districts, still it should be full of Bulgarian habitants. This way it's hard to believe for me that Sofia was completely demolished just to rebuild it in a new way.

Why, when and by who Sofia was actually destroyed? Do you know about any other towns where such situation occur, especially in the western culture?


The 11th ed. of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (published in 1911) provides a specific answer as to when. The why can perhaps be inferred from its somewhat anti-Turkish language (tortuous, mean) and the historical events around independence in 1879.

Since 1880 the city has been almost entirely renovated in the "European" style; the narrow tortuous lanes and mean houses of the Turkish epoch have almost disappeared, and a new town with straight parallel streets has been constructed in the eastern suburb.

As for by whom, e.g. various Wikipedia articles provide names of architects who were invited to work in Bulgaria (e.g. Friedrich Grünanger).

While the extent of "renovation" may be larger than elsewhere because of politics of the time, other European capitals also saw considerable renovations in the 19th century, e.g. during Georges-Eugène Hausmann's modernization program in Paris (in the 1860s) or during expansion of the city center in Vienna (after razing of the city walls after 1857). This was also a time when railroads significantly expanded, and this also must have had major architectural effects on many cities.

  • Thanks for the answer, but Encyclopedia Brittanica says only that since 1880 the city has been renovated. It doesn't speak if the town was destroyed during the war, demolished at once or it was a long-term renovation, piece by piece. Bulgarian National Revival, mentioned by you, left after itself plenties of well preserved 19th century houses in highly unique, bulgarian architecture style. But they were made usually before the liberation times and none of them exist in Sofia, while other towns of that era have their National Revival districts, smaller or bigger ones. – Darek Wędrychowski Feb 6 '13 at 15:58
  • This way if Bulgarian National Revival was alive in Sofia, it was before the Russo-Turkish War. I know the names of architects that were invited to Bulgaria by knyaz Alexander Battenberg, but I highly doubt they were responsible for anything else than the plans for new city. I suppose he could be the one who decided to rebuild the town, but it's only a guess and unfortunately doesn't say nothing of the intentions. – Darek Wędrychowski Feb 6 '13 at 15:59
  • 1
    Evidently it was Marian Drinov who proposed Sofia as capital. – Drux Feb 6 '13 at 16:12
  • Thanks, somehow I missed this name. I'll check then Bulgarian language sources on him. – Darek Wędrychowski Feb 6 '13 at 16:18
  • Pls keep us posted ... – Drux Feb 6 '13 at 16:23

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