Bulgaria's Top Landmark 'St. Alexander Nevsky' Falling Apart, Without Owner

Society | November 18, 2011, Friday // 19:11|  views

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is probably Bulgaria's most famous landmark. Photo from Wikipedia

The world-famous St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is the landmark not only of Sofia but of all of Bulgaria, has got no owner to take care of it.

The largest Bulgarian Orthodox and one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world is without a title deed, and at the same time is in a desperate need of repairs, the Bulgarian National TV reported.

An investigation of BNT has indicated that the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is not owned by the Bulgarian state, nor is it owned by the Sofia Municipality, or the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The technical lack of an owner of what is probably Bulgaria's most famous landmark prevents any projects for its repairs just as the cathedral is about to celebrate 100 years since its completion.

"Whenever somebody in Bulgaria has guests from abroad, they bring them to St. Alexander Nevsky. This temple has the greatest murals and the best marble," bishop Tihon, who is the chair of the board of the cathedral, is quoted as saying.

"But we have no title deed. We rely only on the good will of the people for restoration and repairs of the temple," he explained.

The St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral is famous for its golden domes. It was named after 13th century Russian knyaz St. Alexander Nevsky who defended Eastern Orthodox Christianity against the Catholic Teutonic Knights.

The Sofia cathedral, which is also the seat of the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, was built between 1904 and 1912; in 1916-1920, as Bulgaria was fighting against the Russian Empire in World War I, it was temporarily renamed to "St. Cyril and St. Methodius." The temple was formally consecrated with its original name in 1924.

In the 100 years since it has been completed, however, the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral has been only partially repaired; its roof is now leaking, and might collapse at some spots, the report says.

The largest Bulgarian church temple survives solely on the money that it makes from the sale of candles – about BGN 500 000 per year; this money is used to cover its electricity and water bills and the salaries of its staff.

Hardly any donations to the cathedral have been made in the recent years; the largest donor is a charismatic Bulgarian beggar known as Bai Dobri who a couple of years ago donated his life savings of some BGN 30 000.

The staff of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is said to be praying for the Bulgarian state to issue a title deed for the temple so that it can be repaired before its unique murals vanish completely.

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Tags: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, sofia, church, cathedral, temple, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Holy Synod, Eastern Orthodox, Orthodox Christians, orthodox church, Bai Dobri


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