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Sofia

Country: Bulgaria
Population:1,062,065
Time Zone:UTC+3
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St. George Rotunda
The oldest and best preserved monument of architecture since Roman times in Sofia is the rotunda church St. George. It was built in the beginning of the 4th century AD and, was considered, during the reign of the roman emperor Constantine the Great (reigned 306 – 337) and the flourishing of the ancient town Serdika (the old name of Sofia). It is believed that the rotunda is the oldest building in Sofia. The temple is situated in the courtyard of the Government Office, just a couple of meters of the remains of the ancient fortress Serdika. It is a cylindrical domed structure, built on a square base. Its width is about 9.5 meters in diameter and its height is about 14 meters. The altar room has a square form and four symmetrically placed niches. The main entrance is at the western wall. Originally the building was used for public purposes. After the recognition of Christianity as a religion in the Roman Empire, the rotunda became a baptistery (a building for conversion to Christianity), due to the many conversions, following the authorization of this religion.
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Sofia National Art Gallery
The National Art Gallery is the largest and the most representative museum of the Bulgarian fine arts in the country. It is housed in the building of the former royal palace (declared a cultural monument in 1978), together with the National Ethnographic Museum. The beginning of the collection was set in 1892 when the art department of the National Archaeological Museum was established. In 1948 by resolution of the Council of Ministers, the National Art Gallery was established as an independent institution. The exposition of orthodox arts is presented in the crypt of the monumental temple “St. Alexander Nevski” in Sofia. The collection of works of art covers a large period of time – from the adoption of Christianity as an official religion in the Roman Empire in the 4th century to the Age of Bulgarian Revival (18th – 19th century), and it mainly consists of icons. The collections of contemporary and modern Bulgarian art of the museum – from the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Dominion (1878) to the 1990s, contain more than 30,000 works of art, and they are divided into three basic expositions – high quality paintings, graphics and sculptures.
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Ivan Vazov National Theater
The “Ivan Vazov” National Theatre is Bulgaria’s biggest theatre, as well as the oldest and most stand out and most imposing theatre in the country. This theatre is one of the major landmarks in Sofia due to its prime location and grandiose architecture. The National theatre is located in the centre of Sofia and its edifice faces the City Garden. The Ivan Vazov National Theatre has a well-equipped main stage with 750 seats, a smaller 120-seat stage and an additional 70-seat one on the fourth floor. The theatre employs some of the country’s best actors and stage directors, many of whom are widely popular.
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Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity Church and especially its tall belfry have become a symbol of Bansko as one of the most attractive mountain resorts, successfully combining the charm of its rich historical past and its picturesque location at the foot of the mighty Pirin Mountain with the most modern facilities for recreation – a wide choice of reputable hotels for all tastes and budgets, one of the best ski zone in South-East Europe. The Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was built in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival. Its inauguration was made in 1835. The architectural plan of the church is a three-nave basilica or more exactly a pseudo-basilica with 44 m length, 22 m width and 12 m height. The walls are 1.1 m thick and entirely constructed of local ashlar, welded together by mortar. Large wooden beams of centuries old white fir (typical for the region) are used in the foundation and for leveling the walls. Part of the church is sunken under the ground level in order to look smaller from the outside and Turks can not get an idea about its real size. The altar piece is set within a skillfully constructed and decorated apse in the form of the half of a 18-angle prism with a remarkable stone cornice on the exterior. The roof is hold in the interior of the church by 12 massive wooden columns of white fir, symbolizing the 12 apostles.
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Velyans House
Velyan’s House in Bansko is located near the Holy Trinity Church and the central square of the town. The house is an example of the architectural style – fortified house of the Bulgarian Revival Period. Velyan’s House was built in the 18th century and was opened to visitors in 1977. This was a modern two-story building made of stone and wood owned by a wealthy trade family with many children. After a sudden tragedy the family left the house. When the master-painter Velyan Ognev was invited come to Bansko to work on the decoration of the Holy Trinity Temple, the house was given to him by the local people as a symbol of gratitude. The master decorated its interior and exterior and transformed it into a genuine piece of art. With its hiding places, secret exits and fortified walls the Velanova kashta is a piece of legacy from the old times when Bulgaria was under Otoman rule and when people were supposed to hide and protect themselves by the numerous attacks by bandits at that time.
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Pirin National Park
Because of the unique biodiversity and spectacular natural formations of Pirin, the Government of Bulgaria has established over 40,000 ha of mountain protected area – Pirin National Park. It is a piece of nature that is a priceless Bulgarian and world heritage and is included in UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” program. The landscape of the Pirin Mountains is diverse and includes a notable alpine area, dotted with many lakes, forested mountain landscapes that define the unique fauna richness in the mountain. The composition of forests in the territory of Pirin National Park includes 16 tree species, some of them are endemic species, others are of particular conservation significance, or represent some of the largest inventories of tree species in Europe and in Bulgaria. The total area of ​​the Pirin National Park is 40,356 ha and the forested area is 23,110 ha. Within the large area there is dwarf pine, white fir, white pine, spruce, fir, beech, and black pine. The average age of forests in Pirin National Park is 85 years, the largest proportion of forests are older than 140 years.
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Regional Archaeological Museum
The Numismatic Department of Plovdiv Regional Archaeological Museum boasts a collection of 60,000 coins, dated VI c. B. C. - XX c. A. D. The department is constantly enriching its fund either through acquisition from various archaeological excavations or by buying out coins from private collectors. A substantial part of the numismatic treasure of the Archaeological Museum is comprised of coins minted in the period of I - V c. A. D. Philippopolis was the first town in the inner part of Thrace that began to mint the so-called "pseudo-autonomous" bronze coins. The Emperors Domicianus (81 - 96), Trajan (98 - 117) and Hadrian (117 - 138) gave permission to the town to issue coins without the mediation of the Roman legates, temporarily governing Thrace. Alongside with the coins, the Museum collection holds a considerable amount of medallions, issued as commemorative signs to eminent representatives of the Emperor in the province or to town notables. In some periods they were also used as legal tender. The Museum boasts one of the richest collections of 100.000 exhibits of artefacts related to the history of Plovdiv and its region. Plovdiv is the heir to one of the biggest and most famous ancient towns in the Balkan Penninsula - Philippopolis.
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Kapana (The Trap)
Steering just a little from the Main Street in Plovdiv and imperceptibly you find yourself in “Kapana” (literal translation: “The Trap”). Once you get there you would never want to go back. You will find galleries, workshops, ateliers, studios, cozy restaurants and shops, as well as other art spaces, and there is even a vinyl shop! And to back our words up, here is a list of places you should not miss in “Kapana”: Vinyl’s home place Soul Searchin’ – Point-Blank Gallery – Darvodelie Atelier – What A monster – Kotka and Mishka.... All these places fill “Kapana” with modern cultural content not only with their daily activities but also organizing events with social, economic and cultural effect for the city. What happens in the new/old art district of Plovdiv is so much – concerts, exhibitions, festivals, forums, brainstorming sessions and discussions, theatrical performances, art installations, screenings, workshops and many more.
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Roman Stadium
The Stadium of Philippopolis was built in the beginning of 2nd century AD during the reign Emperor Hadrian. It is situated in the Northern part of the fortified city surrounded by defence walls, in the natural terrain between Taksim Tepe and Sahat Tepe. The facility, approximately 240 meters long and 50 meters wide, could seat up to 30 000 spectators. According to the epigraphic and numismatic monuments games similar to the Pythian Games in Greece were held in the town. To honour the visit of the Roman emperor Caracalla in 214 the games were called Alexandrian while the games for the visit of emperor Elagabalus in 218 were called Kedrisian Games. There you can dive underground at the original level of the Ancient town. The space open for visitors includes a part of the track, the semi-circular part of the spectator seats (sfendona) and a panoramic wall with hypothetical reconstruction of the missing space of the facility. Some of the discovered elements of the Stadium are identified along the main street of Plovdiv.
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Museum Centre of Modern History
The building was erected as an officers club in 1895. In the period 1905-1923 it was Peoples Home, which housed workers theatre, brass band and evening classes. In 1951 the building was turned into a Museum of the History of Capitalism, Working Class Movement and Socialist Construction. Nowadays it accommodates the Museum Centre of Modern History with a large, fully equipped hall, which allows the arrangement of art and photographic exhibitions, presentations, seminars and other public events.
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Archaelogical Complex Nebet Tepe
It is interesting to know when and where was the ancient town of Plovdiv founded. What is the place where the people settled and remained to live there for 8 millennia? This place is the hill known today as Nebet tepe situated on the hilltop plateau in the northern part of the three hills (Trimontium). The earliest settlements on the territory of the city are dated back to the 6th millennium BC. There were several prehistoric settlements on this territory, but the oldest and most important one was located on hill known as Nebet tepe. Initially the village was situated in a naturally sheltered and consolidated place on the front side of the northern hill. It gradually expanded towards the other hills to become the most significant Thracian city on the territory of Bulgaria. At that time the lands of today's Plovdiv were inhabited by the Thracian tribe Bessi. The scientists are still not sure if the name of the city at that time was Eumolpia or Pulpudeva. The complex of Nebet tepe continued to play an important role as an element of the fortification system of the city until the 14th century, with lots of improvements and supplements during the Antiquity and the Middle Ages. A notable finding of that later period is a reservoir of 350 cubic meters.
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Tsar Simeon
Tsar Simeon's Garden in Plovdiv is created in 1892 by the Swiss landscape architect Lucien Chevalas (1840-1921). In 1879 Bulgarian knyaz Aleksandar Bogoridi invited Chevalas to become the official gardener of Plovdiv. For all his contribution to the city, in 1901 he was declared an honorary citizen of Plovdiv. Often he is referred to as “the Minister of flowers”. A Viennese pavilion is built in the centre of the park. The pavilion is with a metal openwork construction and is a replica of the 1936-Central Pavilion. All this was possible with the help of archival photographs and historical evidences from the Book of the fair. In addition there is new lighting in the park, and also new benches and modern children's playgrounds are installed. The trees and the flowers turn the park in a paradise garden. The pearl on the crown of the park is the renovated Lake with the Singing Fountains. You can enjoy the light show of the lake intertwined with water effects.
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Regional Ethnographic Museum
Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic museum is the second largest specialized museum of this type in Bulgaria. It is an acknowledged scientific-educational institution and an attractive center for cultural tourism. The museum was established in 1917 and since 1938 it has been located in Kuyumdzhieva house, a cultural monument of national significance. Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic museum provides coordinative, qualification and expert-consulting activities for all museums and collections of artifacts with ethnographic character on the territory of Plovdiv and the region. In addition, the museum lends its methodical support to the municipal and private museums.The museum is a co-organizer and a host of popular traditional festivals such as Festival the Annual Festival of Chamber Music, The Festival of Classic Guitar, etc., as well as concerts, biennials, fashion shows, theatrical plays, book presenting and performances. The demonstration of traditional crafts is another type of tourist attraction.
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The Ancient Theatre of Philipoppol
The Ancient theatre of Philipoppol is one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the World. It is located on the Southern slope of the Three Hills, in the saddle between Taksim and Dzhambaz tepe. Discovered by archaeologists from Plovdiv and reconstructed in the beginning of the 80s of XX century, the Ancient theatre of Philipoppol is among the most significant findings from the Roman period. Recently found and deciphered inscription on a monumental pedestal reveals that the theatre has been constructed in the 90s of I century A.D., when Philippolol was under the rulership of Titus Flavius Cotis – an heir of a Thracian Royal Dynasty, the high priest of the Tracian province, representative of the Metropolitan Court of Justice and a person in charge of the construction sites. Nowadays, the Ancient theatre is symbolical for Plovdiv and adjusted to the city’s modern cultural life. It is operating as a stage of opera, music and drama. Some of the best annual events are the International Folklore Festival, the Opera Festival "Opera Open", the Rock Festival "Sounds of Ages" and many others.
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The Old Town Plovdiv
Ancient Plovdiv Architectural and Historical Reserve (The Old Town) is located in the Central part of the city of Plovdiv on the Three Hills (Nebet Tepe, Taksim Tepe and Dzhambaz Tepe) and covers an area of about 35 ha. It was formed due to the continuous life over the centuries – from Prehistoric, Thracian, Hellenic, Roman, Late-ancient, Medieval, National Revival, and Post-Liberation periods to present days. The combination of the prevailing Antiquity, Middle Ages and Revival in an independent core within the modern city is one of a kind for our country. From the Roman and the Late-ancient period in the Old Town have been best preserved the Ancient Theatre, the Ancient Forum, the Roman Stadium, Early Christian basilicas, public and private buildings, pipelines, street network and parts of the fortress walls, constructed in the Antiquity and the Middle Ages. From the National Revival period the authentic architecture of houses as well as several churches and school buildings have been preserved. The residential buildings are divided into two main groups. The first group of houses corresponds to the mountain asymmetrical type, but it has been expanded and enriched for the needs of the urban life. The second group is the so-called “Plovdiv symmetrical urban house”. This group of buildings is characterized by a unique national interpretation of the European baroque.
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Small Basilica
On the territory to the East and Northeast of the Forum (Agora) of Philippopolis in the years of Early Christianity were formed neighborhoods where several Christian churches were built. In the same area were found also the ruins of a synagogue - a unique building from that period. The ruins of the Small Early Christian basilica were found during the construction works of "Maria Louisa" Blvd. The Small basilica is situated in the eastern outskirts of the Ancient city, next to the fortification wall with a tower from 2nd - 4th century AD. The basilica has a central nave, flanked by two aisles. It is with one apse and with a narthex. A small chapel was built to the South and a baptistery is erected just next to the Northern aisle. The overall length of the basilica, including the apse, is 20 meters, and the width is 13 meters. The basilica was built in the second half of 5th century AD with rich architectural decorations – marble colonnades separating the aisles, marble altar wall, pulpit and synthronos. The floors were covered with rich multicolour mosaic with geometrical motifs. The mosaic includes a panel with donor inscription. Remnants of an altar table were found.
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Skopje Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar (Macedonian: Стара Чаршија, Stara Čaršija from the Turkish: Çarşı meaning marketplace, Albanian: Çarshia e Vjetër) in Skopje is the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside Istanbul. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river. The Old Bazaar falls within the borders of Centar and Čair municipalities and is a protected national landmark. The earliest known documented sources that point out to the existence of a merchant quarter on the bazaar's territory date back to the 12th century. During the Ottoman rule with the city, the place underwent a rapid development to become city's main economic and merchant centre, evidenced by about 30 mosques, numerous caravanserais and hans, as well as other Ottoman buildings and monuments. The bazaar was heavily damaged by the earthquakes that occurred in 1555 and 1963, and the destructions caused during the First and the Second World War. Subsequently, it was reconstructed on several occasions and nowadays represents the only remaining cultural monument in the Republic of Macedonia, which has kept its multicultural heritage of different civilizations.
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Fortress Kale
The Skopje Fortress commonly referred to as Kale Fortress, or simply Kale (from kale, the Turkish word for 'fortress'), is a historic fortress located in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city's flag. The first fortress, according to research and available data, is believed to have been built amidst the 6th century A.D., on land that had been inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze ages or roughly 4000 B.C. It was constructed with yellow limestone and travertine and along with fragments of Latin inscriptions, asserts the idea that the fortress originated from the Roman city of Skupi, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518. The fortress is thought to have been reconstructed during the rule of emperor Justinian I and constructed further during the 10th and 11th centuries over the remains of emperor Justinian's Byzantine fortress which may have been destroyed due to a number of wars and battles in the region, such as that of the uprising of the Bulgarian Empire against the Byzantine Empire under the rule of Peter Delyan. Not much is known about the Medieval fortress apart from a few documents which outline minor characteristics in the fortress' appearance.
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Memorial House of Mother Teresa
The desire to pay respect to one the most famous person and Nobel Prize winner from Macedonia was accomplished on the 30-th of January 2009 with the opening of the Memorial house dedicated to Mother Teresa. The Memorial house of Mother Teresa is a non-profit organization financed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. The Location of the museum is not randomly chosen. That is to say, on this exact place the old Catholic Church “Sacred heart of Jesus” used to stand. It is where Mother Teresa, then Gonxha Bojaxhiu was baptized just one day after her birth, on the 27th of August 1910, place where she received her first communion and where she finds her inner peace after her father’s death. This place had great importance and influence on developing the character of young Gonxha and to her desire to help the poor people. Since she was a child she sang in the Catholic Church choir and participated in charity organizations. Somehow the location itself represents a symbolic bridge that connects little Gonxha to one of the greatest humanitarian of the world, Mother Teresa.
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Millennium Cross
The Millennium Cross (Macedonian: Милениумски крст, Latinic: Mileniumski krst) is a 66 metre-high cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. It was constructed to serve as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. The construction of the cross began in 2002 and was funded by the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government and donations from Macedonians from all over the world. The cross was built on the highest point of the Vodno mountain on a place known since the time of the Ottoman Empire as "Krstovar", meaning "Place of the cross", as there was a smaller cross situated there. On 8 September 2008, the independence day of the Republic of Macedonia, an elevator was installed inside the cross. In 2009, a restaurant and a souvenir shop were opened next to the cross. In 2011 the Millennium Cross ropeway was opened. The ropeway is three and a half km long. At night the cross shines down over the city.
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The Nicolae Romanescu Park,
The Nicolae Romanescu Park, is a veritable green oasis. The park is one of the valuable monuments of landscape architecture in Romania. The plans for the park, designed by French architect Emile Rendont, were awarded the gold medal at the 1900 World Fair.
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Matka Canyon
Matka - A gorge in which a rich complex of mediaeval building survives, including churches, monasteries and remnants of a fortress (the mediaeval town of Matka).There are dozens of caves and a large number of endemic plants and animals. The Canyon covers an area of around 5.000ha and is located 15km south-west of Skopje. By its morphogenetic characteristic, it is a breakthrough gorge. Krastic form deserve particular attention here-ten caves with their length ranging between 20 and 176 meters and two vertical chasms with a depth up to 35 meters. Matka was one of the largest refugee centers during the glacial period resulting in the presence of a high number of relic and endemic plants, 20% are endemic or relic spices. Among Tertiary relics, the most significant are the Kozani violet and Italy's Ramonda (Ramonda Natalie). It is also important to mention that there are 77 species of Balkan endemic small butterflies in area of Matka Canyon, while 18 other species are new to the science.
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The Church of Cosuna Monastery
The Cosuna – Bucovatu Vechi Monastery is an orthodox monastery situated in Craiova, Dolj county. It is the oldest religious edifice from the city of Craiova, being built in 1483. The Monastery`s church was built between 1506 – 1512 and the actual church in 1572, by the Boyar Stephan and his son.
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Multimedia Visitor Centre Tsarevgrad Tarnov
Multimedia visitor centre “Tsarevgrad Tarnov” is located near Tsarevets hill. Notable sculptures and paintings present historical figures and events of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It recreates lives of different social layer in medieval bulgarian society – monarchs, clergy, boyars and warriors, craftsmen. Visitors will experience the rich history of Tsarevgrad as a symbol of royalty, glory and spiritual power.
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Veliko Tarnovo Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological museum which housed the exposition “Veliko Tarnovo – the capital of Bulgaria XII – XIV c.” is situated westward to the square of “Saedinenie”. The thousand year old history and culture of the region of Tarnovo is traced out there. The accent is on the period of the Second Bulgarian kingdom. The prehistory is presented in the first hall. You can see some archaeological findings from the tumulus of Samovodene (5700-5000 BC), the settlement in the area of “Kachitsa”, V.Tarnovo (5300-3800 BC), Djulyunitsa (4800-4000 BC), tumuli of the village of Hotnitsa, the waterfall near Hotnitsa (3600 BC), the Thracian village on the hill of Tsarevec. The point is on the golden treasure of Hotnitsa that dates back to about 4100 BC. It is worth to see the golden objects from the cave of the village of Emen and a piece with signs of proto-writing system.
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Holy Forty Martyrs Church
The Holy Forty Martyrs church was built and decorated with murals by the will of the Bulgarian tzar Ivan Asen II, to commemorate his victory over the king of the Epirus kingdom Theodor Comnenus in 1230. In the middle of the XIII century, around the church was erected the royal monastery of the Great Laurel. The church became a centre of a series of important events and its nave comprises the most significant tokens of the Bulgarian history – the columns of khan Omurtag (815 – 831), of khan Krum (803-814) and of Ivan Asen II with inscriptions on them. During archeological researches were unearthed the tombs of significant medieval persons. The biggest interest drew the grave the Bulgarian king Kaloyan, who was assassinated during the siege of Thessaloniki in 1207. After his death his body was solemnly carried to capital, where he was buried with honours. In the church were also the graves of one of the greatest Bulgaria’s rulers – Ivan Asen II and his wife Anna – Maria. The church was the place where the relics of St. Sava of Serbia and St. Ilarion of Muglen were kept. Consequently the body of St. Sava was transferred to Serbia but his grave is still an attractive point for pilgrims. One of the most important events held in the church was the pronouncing of the Bulgarian independence on the 22nd of September, 1908.
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Tobacco Museum
In the early 12th century the city of Kavala is small. The cultivation of tobacco in the 19th century results in many tobacco companies settling in Kavala. People from the outskirts of Kavala are starting to move to the city which has began to spread outside the walls of the peninsula.
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Aqueduct (Kamares)
The Old Aqueduct, the Medieval Aqueduct, is work of the Byzantine period, which held extensive repairs during the Ottoman rule, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and Legislator (1530 AD approx.) This double arch structure was designed to bridge the peninsula of Panagia with the foot of the mountain of Lekani.
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Imaret
Imaret is an impressive building erected by Mehmet Ali (1769-1849) as a donation to its native town. Ali was born in Kavala and later became Ruler of Egypt. It is situated on the western side of the Old City, in Panayia, occupying an area of 3500 m2.
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Byzantine Bathhouse
The byzantine bathhouse is a late thirteenth century building in the city of Thessaloniki.
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Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon Church
The Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios a splendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc.
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White Tower
One of the historical Site in the city if Thessaloniki which form the center of city and has ancient Value attach to it.
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Agios Nikolaos
The church of Agios Nikolaos with its attractive belfry and carved birdhouses, the traditional meeting point for the town’s inhabitants.
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Ancient Theatre of Ohrid
The builders of Ohrid’s ancient theater have estimated very precisely where to put the building - in the center of the elevated old town. The open theater holds a perfect location, as the two hills (Gorni Saraj and Deboj) keep it protected from winds that could interfere with acoustics during performances. The Ancient theatre of Ohrid of the Hellenistic period was built in 200 BC and is the only Hellenistic-type theatre in the country as the other three in Scupi, Stobi and Heraclea Lyncestis are from Roman times. It is unclear how many people the original theatre used to seat, as only the lower section still exists. During Roman times, the theater was also used for gladiator fights. However, since the theater was also a site of executions of Christians by the Romans, it rapidly turned to a highly disliked site by the locals. In fact, as a result of this dislike, the theatre was abandoned and buried by the locals after the demise of the Roman Empire. Discovered accidentally and later excavated completely, this 4, 000 square meter monument to antique Greco-Roman culture is being used today during the annual Ohrid Summer Festival for performances of ancient tragedies and comedies. The Theatre offers a wonderful view of Lake Ohrid and Mt. Galichica to the southeast.
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Ohrid Church St. Sophia
The church of St. Sofia is one of the largest medieval churches on this territory. For a long time, it was the cathedral church ("Great Church") of the Ohrid Archiepiscopate whose ecclesiastical authority covered the territories up to the river Danube to the north, the Albanian coast to the west, and the Bay of Thessalonica to the east. The church was probably used as a cathedral way back in the past, in the period of the Car Samuel who, in the late X century, moved his throne from Prespa to Ohrid. The other assumption is that there used to be another church on the same site during the reign of the Macedonian Czar Samuel and that later on this church was ruined for unknown reasons. The date of the construction of that church is uncertain because there are no inscriptions that help reveal it. It is also mentioned that today's church was either built or restored during the period of the Archbishop Leo who was on the throne of the Church in the period between 1035-1056. His esteemed ecclesiastical principle became a donor of the painting decorations in the church of St. Sofia. The original church had only one main dome. In the XIV century, an opulent external narthex was constructed. Its original shape was a three-naval basilica with a transept, a dome, and galleries on the side naves. It had a parvis and separate chapels above the northern and southern altar sections even in XI century. Almost three centuries later, during the period of the Archbishop Gregorius, a new parvis was built. It represents the climax of the Macedonian XIV-century culture. The concept of the extended parvis was horizontal, with a portico on the ground, and galleries on the first floor. Above the Gregorious Gallery, on the northern and southern sides, there were separate sections with towers. With the arrival of the Turks, the church St. Sofia was converted into a mosque. They "took care" to reshape the church almost entirely so that it could serve the Muslim religion. The frescoes were whitewashed, the ornamented plates from the iconostasis were used for constructing the internal staircase, and a minaret was built above the northwest dome. These undertakings distorted the structure of the entire church. In the period from 1950 to 1957 extensive conservatory and restoration activities were performed. The frescoes were cleaned and conserved, and also some reconstruction work was done. The fresco paintings in the church are amongst the highest achievements in medieval painting in Macedonia and even wider. At that time Ohrid was under the direct authority of the Constantinople Patriarchate, so these are the most important preserved works of Byzantine monumental painting. The donor of the fresco paintings, one of the most learned men of the time, Archbishop Leo, directly influenced the selection of the compositions painted in the XI century.