Erected in 2000 to replace a statue of Lenin removed 10 years prior, Sveta Sofia stands tall, arms outstretched, golden-skinned and black-eyed, over Bulgaria’s representative center.
Though it bears the name Sveta Sofia, the statue does not depict one individual, per se. Rather, she is a combination of figures. The two most commonly attributed are Sofia and Athena, both of Hellenistic origins. Both symbolize “Holy Wisdom” (or “Hagia Sofia”, the expression for which the city and its founding church were named), and the statue contains ancient vestiges of that concept: the crown, the laurel wreath, and the owl.
She has also been a topic of debate among locals who bash the government for erecting a Sofia monument that actually has nothing to do with the Bulgarian city of Sofia or its history (as the city was named after the church Hagia Sofia).