Sofia’s Borissova Gradina: The lungs of the city

Written by on November 22, 2016 in Leisure - Comments Off on Sofia’s Borissova Gradina: The lungs of the city

The communists called it “Freedom Park”: Borisova Gradina is the largest and oldest park in Sofia. Most of it is actually a forest. The park spreads from the city center all the way to the Izgrev and Iztok quarters of the city. It is an oasis of quietude in this rather loud city, as well as a source for some cleaner air in the most polluted city in the European Union. Without Borisova Gradina, Diesel clouds would rule even more than they do anyway.

It started in 1882, when mayor Ivan Hadzhienov commissioned the Swiss gardener Daniel Neff. The task was to create a big park. Over time, other famous gardeners were in charge, who kept on changing the park step by step. Back then, it became a place for relaxation and nice weekend walks. Today, Borisova Gradina is not just a great place for children to play in, or for lovers who feel like holding hands during a romantic walk, but it is also necessary, since it improves the air quality, at least to some extent.

This Sunday morning, at 9 a.m., some 15 dog walkers circled the big lawn at the northwestern end of the park. Two Golden Retrievers, one poor doggy which had issues with its back legs and lots of other puppies of all sizes were chasing each other there, while the owners were busy with coffee in tiny plastic cups, cigarettes and smart phones. Some of them could have used a few more hands, since they were carrying leashes as well.

At the Russian victory monument, a bit further east, a well trained gentleman parked his bicycle, in order to start a strict looking gymnastics regime. He seemed to enjoy the fact that he had an audience, consisting of two-legged and four-legged fans, who admired him a lot. At least that was what he seemed to think. At the same time, an elderly lady cleaned up behind her Cocker Spaniel with a plastic bag.

Borisova Gradina is Sofia’s oldest and biggest park. The National Stadium can be seen in the background. Photo by Imanuel Marcus

The brand new playground was deserted at that hour. The city recently removed two kiosks, while getting rid of the rather old fashioned, old playground. The new one offers lots of new climbing attractions and slides, mainly for small children, and a secure rubber ground, which will prevent injuries when the little ones fall.

An elderly man rode his bike through the tunnel located in the middle of the park, which connects the two parts separated by Boulevard Yavorov. Further east, joggers did their rounds, some at impressive speeds. All of them were wearing headphones. A daddy played with his 3-year-old son at Kokolandia, a climbing playground for kids of all ages, which opens during the summer months.

In this part of the park, traffic on Tsarigradsko Chaussee can be heard in the distance, the city highway extending from Sofia’s city center all the way to Trakia Highway, which leads to Burgas, at the Black Sea coast, some 380 kilometers away.

Borisova Gradina also harbours an old telescope, a tennis club, a pizzeria, an abandoned swimming pool and the CCK Stadium. The artificial lake, at the end facing the city center, was already dry this morning. An ice rink was in the process of being set up on the dry ground of that lake, not far from the National Stadium Vasil Levski, which is basically located in this park as well.

Tired of Diesel clouds, noise and all the rush? This is your place.

Very few people visited the park this Sunday morning. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

 

The new playground is a true marvel. Photo by Imanuel Marcus

The Lily Lake, located close to the Russian victory monument. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Forget Maria Luiza Pool. It was closed several years ago. Photo by Imanuel Marcus

A Kokolandia, children of all ages can climb the trees in spring and summer. There are several difficulty levels. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

The woods, in the park. The lungs of Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com