Sofia city hall opens weekend bus line to Vrana park

Sofia city hall will operate a weekend bus line, starting on June 15, to the Vrana residence and park on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital city. The former royal park finally opened its doors to the public the previous weekend and was over-run by visitors, according to reports in local media.

The 505 bus line will run between Orlov Most (Eagels Bridge) in central Sofia and the entrance of the Vrana park. The busses will run at one-hour intervals, between 9.10am and 3.10pm to Vrana residence, and between 11.10am and 4.10pm from Vrana.

The park is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, between 10am and 4pm. For the first month, the entrance is free; afterwards, the fee will be five leva for individual visitors and four leva for group tours (pensioners and children aged under five will pay no fees, while children and teenagers aged between five and 17 will pay a fee of two leva).

Guided tours are available every hour. The park itself covers nearly 100ha and has hundreds of decorative plant species, the city hall said

Vrana was built between 1904 and 1912 as a royal residence for tsar Ferdinand I, a keen botanist and ornithologist – he reportedly named the palace after the first bird that landed on its roof (“vrana” is Bulgarian for crow).

Bombed by Allied forces during World War 2, it was rebuilt after the war and became a state residence used by Bulgaria’s communist leaders after the end of the monarchy in 1946.

It was returned to former tsar Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his sister, Maria Luiza, following a decision of the Constitutional Court in 1998. In 2001, Saxe-Coburg donated the park to the city of Sofia, on the condition that it is made available to the public. He still uses Vrana’s former hunting lodge as his official residence.

A museum in the Vrana residence is expected to open in September, Sofia city hall has said.

(Vrana residence, screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)



The Sofia Globe staff

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