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National Natural History Museum in Sofia

Location: The National Museum of Natural History /abbreviated NMNHS/ is situated in the center of Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. The Sofia Art Gallery, the Ethnographical Museum, St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Russian Church, and the Archeological Museum are close to the National Museum of Natural History.
Address:1 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

Opening times:every day from 10:00—18:00, except on official holidays /1 January, 3 March and 25 December

How can I get to the museum?
Public transport:

  • Subway — ‘Serdika’ stop
  • Bus lines 9, 94, 280, 306 — ‘Sofia University’ stop
  • Troleybus line 9 — ‘St. Alexander Nevski Square’ stop
  • Troleybus lines 1, 2, 4, 11 — ‘Sofia University’ stop
  • Tramway line 20 — ‘National Opera’ stop
  • Tramway lines 1, 2, 7 — ‘Sveta Nedelya Square’ stop

History of the museum in brief:

The National Museum of Natural History has a history of almost one hundred and twenty years. It is the oldest museum in Bulgaria and the oldest and richest among the natural history museums on the Balkan Peninsula. It was founded in 1889 by the Royal Prince Ferdinand under the name Royal Prince’s Natural History Museum. At first it used to accommodate Prince Ferdinand’s personal collections of birds, mammals and butterflies. The first curator of the museum was the court doctor Dr Paul Leverkühn who was a famous ornithologist. He organised the first exposition in 14 halls on two floors in an old building where today’s museum stands and it was opened for visits in 1907. That year the first and until now the only full catalogue of collections was issued listing several thousand exhibits of that time.
Until WW I the museum added collections mainly from abroad, given as present or bought from famous foreign collectors and travellers. In the next decades almost all private collections of animals and plants were contributed by the first Bulgarian geologists.

The museum underwent particularly intensive development under the management of Dr Ivan Buresch, member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, who run the museum from 1914 to 1959. At that time it was called the Royal Museum and laid the foundations of the Royal Natural and Scientific Institutes established in 1918. Expeditions to all Bulgarian mountains and to the neighbouring Balkan countries were organised to enrich the museum collections. Thus, many new animal and plant species were discovered. The museum turned into the main centre of studies on natural sciences in Bulgaria. Today’s four-storey building, which harbours collections from 1936, is the only building in Sofia constructed for a museum.
The museum was renamed Museum of Natural History in 1948 .


The visitors are intrigued by one of the last pure-bred aurochs found in nature, the brown bear proclaimed as the largest in Europe, the rare small panda, the beautiful birds of paradise, toucans, the Californian condor extinct in the wild nature, the different types of pheasants with splendid feathers, the giant African tortoise, the blind cave fish from America, the Periophtalmus fish, which can move on land as well. It is interesting to know that the National Museum of Nature and History exhibits the Caroline parrot, which became extinct worldwide, the monk seal, bearded vulture, little bustard, grey and maiden crane, steppe viper, German sturgeon, all of which extinct in Bulgaria. In recent years several dioramas were added to the exhibitions depicting the live nature of the Arctic (white bears and seals), Africa (black panther), Asia (tiger) and South American tropical forest (jaguar, ara parrots, tamarine monkeys). Other large mammals recently exhibited are the white rhinoceros, the Himalayan bear, cheetahs, buffalos.


Prior to introducing the exhibitions, please, get acquainted with one of the definitions for natural history so as to get initial notion of what you may marvel at whilst touring the interesting Museum of Natural History.
What is natural history?-Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards the observational than experimental methods of study, and encompasses mainly research.
Today, the museum offers three major sections - Geology, Zoology and Botany. The "Earth and Space" exhibition features unique lunar samples and an impressive dinosaur skeleton, as well as several meteorites. Also, there is a special exhibition, showing live pythons, crocodiles, iguanas, and many more.
Rocks, crystals and minerals grace the ground floor, while on the next two floors you can browse cases full of stuffed birds and animals, including a brown bear dangling a Nazi hunting medal from its claw and some threadbare apes, lions and tigers. Pickled fish and cases of dried insects complete the collection.

The museum exhibitions occupy 16 halls on four floors.

  • Floor 1: Non-living nature
    Floor 1 acquaints visitors with the non-living nature. Here you can learn about the variety of rocks and minerals.
  • Floor 2: The diversity of living nature
    The acquaintance with the richness of the living nature starts on the second floor- the Fossil Animals and Plants Hall, the Fishes and Amphibians Hall, the Reptiles Hall, and the Birds Halls.
  • Floor 3: Mammals
    The third floor shows the diversity of recent mammals.
  • Floor 4: The Invertebrates
    The fourth floor acquaints visitors with the infinite diversity of the invertebrates: the Insect exposition and the Non-insect Invertebrates Hall. On the same floor, plants are presented as well.

There is also a permanent exhibition of live animals, mainly exotic reptiles and amphibians.
National Museum of Nature and History is the only national institution directly engaged with the preservation of scientific collections of live and non-live nature from Bulgaria and the world. The study of biodiversity, environmental protection and the evolution of organisms are the museum’s major priorities.

Official website of National Museum of Nature and History

Bulgarian Natural History Museum on the map of Sofia

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