Visitors to Sofia will, like those travelling to other parts of eastern Europe, be fascinated to learn about a part of the continent that was for so long shut off from the west, but where the ideology of Communism proved unable to secure permanence. One of the consequences of the latter fact, apart from the spectacular unravelling of the old order in 1989, is that the history, traditions and culture of the various countries in the region were able to re-emerge swiftly. With so much rich culture about, it may seem extraordinary to suggest that the history and traditions of the Balkan region could be encapsulated in one hotel. But if any one building can achieve that, the Sofia Hotel Balkan is it.
The hotel itself actually dates from the Communist period, being built in 1956 at a time when a new architectural style was emerging, which combined classical design with a plush interior, providing lots of space. This is as far from the stereotypical functionalist architecture of the Communist age as it is possible to imagine, but is still a signature of that period. However, the building itself is just part of the wider presidential palace complex, with layer upon layer of history – literally so in the case of the foundations of a Roman fortress that stood on the site. Indeed, remnants of this building can be found all around the hotel. The history of the hotel is complemented by the present. This includes no less than 184 stately rooms and suites. In addition, its spacious interior means there is lots of room for events and celebrations, such as weddings or birthdays.
It is also useful for business meetings. Anyone attending one of these events can enjoy opulent surroundings that feature large, sparkling chandeliers, large windows allowing in plenty of natural light and fine views to the Rotonda St George. For guests drawn to Sofia by a fascination with Balkan history from the Romans to the Cold War, or simply by the style and high quality of facilities on offer, this is a fine hotel to stay in.