Sofia’s National Art Gallery boasts the country’s most important collection of Bulgarian art. Founded in 1934, it has been housed in the former Royal Palace since 1946. The palace was originally built in 1873 for the Ottoman rulers and parquet floors and intricate stucco ceilings from before World War I can be seen in many exhibition spaces. The highlight of the Gallery, a collection of paintings from the interwar generation, is on display in the Red Hall, which was once the palace ballroom
With more than 50,000 pieces of art, the Gallery is home to Bulgaria’s largest collection of medieval paintings, as well as more than 4,000 religious icons. The exhibition begins with works by the great Bulgarian religious artist, Zahari Zograf, and then traces the development of Bulgarian painting, with all of the most popular names in Bulgarian art represented. Visitors will find galleries devoted to 19th and 20th century paintings, while other rooms focus on local impressionists. Upstairs, several corridors and small rooms showcase Bulgarian sculpture. Temporary exhibitions of contemporary art occasionally take place on the ground floor.
The National Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and the price of admission is 6 lev for adults. Located in the city center on Ploschad Alexander Battenberg, it is easily accessible from the Serdika Metro station.