Tourists to get first glimpses of St Sofia underground museum ‘by June’
The first phase of the underground museum at St Sofia church, featuring a necropolis dating from the fourth century CE as well as mosaics and frescoes and early Christian imagery, is expected to open with a temporary exhibition in late May or early June 2013.
The necropolis has a large number of tombs, which archaeologists say may include the remains of some early Christian dignitaries.
When the project is complete, the catacombs will become part of a wider underground museum.
According to Todor Chobanov, Sofia deputy mayor in charge of culture, work on the underground museum was 99 per cent complete.
St Sofia church, dating from about the fifth century CE, is on the site of the ancient necropolis of Serdica, the Roman-era name for the city that is modern Bulgaria’s capital.
Apart from the tombs, tourists will be able to see the remains of all four churches that have been on the site of today’s basilica. Fragments of the mosaic floor of the fourth church have been preserved.
Plans are for electronic audio guides to be available for Bulgarian and foreign visitor to the museum. Guides able to speak major foreign languages also will be available.
Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said that she was looking forward to the restoration of the mosaics, for which a further 200 000 leva was needed.
Once completed, the museum would be “very modern”, she said.
About two million leva has been spent in recent years on the St Sofia underground museum, via the national Ministry of Culture from European Union funds.