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The Statue of Sofia - a symbol of our ancient capital

The Sofia statue is a monumental sculpture in the center of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

It was built in 2000 for the new millennium (Millennium).
Its authors are the architect Stanislav Konstantinov and the sculptor Georgi Chapkenov.
It is a copper-bronze statue with a height of 8.08 meters and a weight of about 5 tons, erected on a high reinforced concrete pillar (height 12 meters) with a 4-meter cube-shaped base, to which a three-sided staircase leads. The base and the pillar are lined with dark granite.
The total height of the monument is 24 meters.
She is a kind of symbol - patron of the city and radiates beauty and magnificence.

The statue of Sofia is allegorical - it is depicted as a pagan goddess bearing the ancient symbols of wisdom, glory and prosperity.
It represents a standing female figure with arms outstretched.
On her head she wears the crown of Tyuche (the ancient Greek goddess of fate), as a symbol of power and authority.
The hairstyle resembles ancient statues. She is dressed in a beautifully cut chiton.
In her right hand she holds a laurel wreath - a symbol of glory, dignity and longevity, which is also a reference to the motto of Sofia "Grows, but does not grow old".
On the elbow of the left hand you can see an owl with spreaded wings 1.1 meters high - a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. This is also related to the name Sofia, which is of ancient Greek origin and means "wisdom".
In the palm of her left hand she holds several antique coins - a symbol of prosperity.
The eyes are rendered as slits in the metal, creating the feel of an antique gold mask.

The statue is covered with a red copper patina on the hair, chiton, owl figures and wreath cape, and a standard green patina on the crown, face, fingers, neck and neckline.
Later in 2001 the face, fingers and crown are gilded with thin gold foil (varak).
The gilding gives additional dignity to the figure.

The making of the Statue of Sofia took 9 months.
It consists of 160 parts, flown separately and assembled on site in 2-3 days (December 25 - December 27, 2000) immediately before the opening.
The foundries of the SBH in Iliantsi were used, as well as the studio of the Sofia Opera (with the assistance of its director Plamen Kartalov).
The value of the monument together with the additional gilding (in 2001) is about 200,000 dollars and is fully covered by the Sofia Municipality.

The statue of Sofia was erected in the place where in antiquity was the main Western gate of ancient Serdika (the ancient name of the city), through which on April 9, 809 Khan Krum has entered the city surrendered to him by the inhabitants.
Later, the medieval church of Saint Spas was built on this site, destroyed by the bombing of Sofia during the Second World War.
During the communist regime, a monument of Vladimir Lenin was erected, removed in 1991 by the post-communist government.
In its immediate vicinity are the entrances to the Serdika metro station, the church of St. Petka Samardzhiyska (from the 14th century), Saint Nedelya Cathedral, the Banya Bashi Mosque (from 1576 - architect Mimar Sinan), the Sofia Synagogue and the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph.
The statue of Sofia faces east, towards Independence Square, where the buildings of the Council of Ministers, the second building of the National Assembly (the former Party House) and the Balkan Hotel (until 2013 known as the Sheraton) are located.

The initiative to erect the Statue of Sofia was of the mayor of the capital, Stefan Sofianski, and was announced in the summer of 1998.
The statue was planned to be of Saint Sofia - from March 1992. the official holiday of Sofia is celebrated on September 17, when the Orthodox Church commemorates the Holy Martyrs Sofia, Faith, Hope and Love.
But during the implementation of the project, the sculpture was created as an ancient pagan goddess, which caused the indignation of some Orthodox Christians and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
According to the author of the sculpture, "This monument belongs to Sofia, not to the Christian church. The symbol is for all residents of the capital."
Until now, the Statue of Sofia has caused many controversial comments.
The monument was officially opened on December 28, 2000. by Mayor Stefan Sofianski in the presence of ministers, MPs, politicians and the media.
On the days of Sofia, the winners of the capital's special award are presented with statuettes, which are a miniature model of the Statue of Sofia.