Three socialist-built buildings lie at Sofia’s city center, and while they still house most of Bulgaria’s government offices, the vestiges of its communist era have largely been stripped away.
Following the allied bombing of Sofia in WWII, plans were set in motion to create a new center for Bulgarian government. Between 1952 and 1958 the grand Party House (home of the former Bulgarian Communist Party) was built along with the two structures that flank it. Today, these house the Bulgarian National Assembly, the State Council, and the President’s office, as well as some non-administrative establishments like the National Archaeological Museum and a department store.
In 1989 most of the communist iconography was removed in the name of progress and new democratic ideology. The red star was removed from the top of the Party House by helicopter and replaced with the Bulgarian flag, and a statue of Sveta Sofia was erected to replace a towering monument to Lenin.
Knyaz Aleksandar Dondukov Boulevard and Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard (both named for heroes of Bulgarian liberation) merge together at the Largo. At their intersection there was, until recently, a lawn known as Nezavisimost, or Independence Square. On it were flags representing each of the NATO member nations. Around 2006, plans were unveiled to remove Nezavisimost Square and replace it with a glass dome, so that the underground ruins of the Ancient Roman city Serdica would be visible to sightseers. This plan met with some controversy from Bulgarians, and construction was stalled for a time.
Eventually, the plan was realized, and the glass covering was installed. Today, pedestrians in the Largo can peer down into the space below, which includes the preserved Roman ruins. Likewise, visitors to the ruins can look up through the glass and see the facade of the National Assembly building above. The underground space also has access to some shops and to the city’s metro system.