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National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum is an archaeological museum in the centre of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The Archaeological museum in Sofia is housed in a beautifully restored 15th century mosque Bouiuk Dzhamia (literally the Grand mosque) and the impressive building itself is well worth visiting. The museum controls and coordinates all excavation works in the country. Hence, the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum is the biggest institution of its kind in Bulgaria.

The museum shelters a huge collection of archaeological finds and it is by far the most eye-catching cultural monuments in Sofia. There are also unique and valuable icons from all over Bulgaria. The museum has attractive display of Thracian, Greek, Roman and medieval Bulgarian artifacts. Some of the large carved Roman marbles are on display in the courtyard of the museum. The great number of monuments, coins, artifacts to be found in the museum reflect the turbulent history of Bulgaria.
Imposing artifacts of Greek and Roman period are spread around in the main hall, whereas intriguing Thracian treasures are on display upstairs.
One of the most captivating findings is the solid gold burial mask of a fourth-century BC Thracian ruler, excavated near the central Bulgarian town of Shipka in summer 2004. A row of Orthodox paintings depicting the life and martyrdom of St George is situated in the first-floor gallery, while a room full of exquisite medieval Bulgarian jewellry inspires today’s designers with its true artistry and value. The whole exhibition is labelled in Bulgarian and English so that the foreign visitor can easily absorb the bulk of interesting information.
The museum has five exhibition halls: Central Hall, Prehistory, Middle Ages, Treasure, and a special temporary exhibition. It is managed by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.


Mahmud Pasha conducted the construction of the building in the 15th century. The construction is unique simply because it appeared to be the oldest preserved building in Sofia. The museum collections were placed in the today’s museum in 1892.
The museum was established as a separate entity in 1893.The original building, constructed by the Ottomans, underwent several renovations. The construction of a new museum building started in the beginning of the 20th century, but later the place was selected as the new location of the Bulgarian National Bank.
The museum was officially opened and inaugurated in 1905 in the presence of Knyaz Ferdinand of Bulgaria and Minister of Culture Ivan Shishmanov.Unfortunately, the museum experienced serious damage in 1944 because of the bombing over Sofia. As a result many artifacts were destroyed or stolen.
The building was renovated in the 20th century, the building was renovated but today it is different from the original.
A sheer coincidence or not, an ancient settlement was discovered in the region right next to the mosque during exploration works in the 30s and the 90s of the 20th century.

The museum houses a huge and rich collection of archaeological finds in four sections:

  • Prehistory,
  • Antiquity,
  • Middle Ages
  • Coins

The prehistory hall presents in chronological order historic developments from ancient times. The emphasis has been put on collections from Karanovska mound and the mound near the village of Ezero.
Trezor (safety vault) hall preserves many of the treasures discovered in Bulgaria. It is important to note that artifacts date back to the late Bronze Age. The Vulchitrun, Loukovit and Nikolaevo treasures are among the most valuable national heritages on display. Visitors can take delight in exploring the recent discoveries from Golyama Kosmatka and Svetitsa mounds.
On the other hand, the medieval expositions depict the lifestyle and spirituality from the period. Some precious Christian monuments have been also included in the collection.

Open hours: 10.00 h - 18.00 h. every day except for Mondays.
Duration: Depends on your time and preferences
Language: Inscriptions both in Bulgarian and English.
Price: 10.00 ?BGN
Address: 2, Saborna str.
Directions: next to Bulgarian National Bank

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