Olli Thomson

The First Roll of 2019

Winter was something of a disappointment. I had been expecting heavy snowfall, with days or weeks of snow lying thick on the ground. Instead there were occasional days of snow which clung on for a little while before melting to slush. I did get out with a camera on one snowy day in January and took some winter pictures pictures around the city. Despite having a new Nikkor lens to experiment with I used my Minolta for these shots since some of them they will be used for a forthcoming post on another website requiring the XD. I believe all of these were shot with the Rokkor MD 24/2.8, though since I’ve stopped taking detailed notes I’m not completely sure. I used Ilford Delta 400.

This first shot is of part of the complex of buildings known as the Largo, built in downtown Sofia in the 1950s to serve as Communist Party headquarters and government offices. The buildings are still used by the Bulgarian Presidency and government.  In the foreground are Christmas decoration placed by the thoroughly capitalist A1, Bulgaria’s largest mobile phone operator.

This picture shows some of the excavated ruins of the ancient city of Serdika. Serdika’s origins go back many millennia but the ruins are mostly from the Roman period. In the background is Sofia’s only remaining functioning mosque, the 16th century Banya Bashi mosque reputedly designed by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.

This is the beautiful neoclassical Ivan Vazov National Theatre, named for Bulgaria’s most famous playwright who was also a poet and novelist. As I was photographing here it started to snow and I was able to get the second picture of the front facade through the falling snow.

Here are three views of what is probably Sofia’s best known and most distinctive building, the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral named for a 13th century Russian ruler and saint. The Cathedral was, in part, a memorial to Russian soldiers who fought and died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 that led to Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule.

A sculpture of a lion by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, seen in the background in this picture. The memorial contains soil from two of the best known battlegrounds of the Russo-Turkish war and is inscribed with lines from a poem by Ivan Vazov. The church in the background is Saint Sofia. The first church built on this site dates back to the 3rd century and it is possible to go beneath the present church, which has undergone extensive renovation, and see tombs and mosaics from the 4th to 6th centuries.

Finally, here are a couple of Sofia’s friendly street dogs. These two live in a downtown square outside the St Nedelya Church. These two have been neutered and tagged, part of a project by the city authorities to reduce the number of street dogs. Having seen how badly street dogs are often treated it has been gratifying to see that people here in Sofia generally treat them well. People leave food out for the dogs (some of which could probably do with going on a diet) and as the weather got colder someone placed two cardboard boxes covered with plastic sheeting and lined with blankets for these two.

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