Home of former Sofia Mayor Hristo Popov transformed into gallery

Hristo Popov's house in the past and now

СнимкаThe topic of preservation of cultural heritage in this country is often in the focus of public attention in this country. Often, however, this happens only after yet another architectural beauty, bearing the spirit and style of a past era, is demolished or allowed to self-destruct. This happens because of the inability of heirs to maintain the building or because of private business interests. Gradually, cities are losing their color and taken over by glass and concrete.

Among the many cases of cultural monuments that have been lost, there are also good examples in which these monuments are property of people who do not want to destroy their memories by turning their old house into another shiny business building. Such is the family of army captain Hristo Popov, a hero from the Serbian-Bulgarian War (1885), one of the first mayors of Sofia and Interior Minister in the first cabinet of Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov.

More about the story of his home and his work as a mayor of Sofia from one of his great-grandsons, Stefan Ognianov:

Снимка“During his mayor's term, the tram network started operating in Sofia, which was then an extremely modern facility at European and even world level. In fact, the network was the merit of the previous mayor Dimitar Yablanski who had done a great deal of work, but it started operating during the term of Hristo Popov. In this period the replacement of street gas lighting with electric one started. At that time the design of the Sofia coat-of-arms was also created.

Hristo Popov's house was built in 1897 after his service in the army finished, and after his graduation from Switzerland and return to Bulgaria but before becoming a mayor. The house has served as a home to him and his family. Several generations, including myself, were also born and grew up in it.

The furnishing of the house was very eclectic - old bourgeois furniture mixed with items from the times of socialism and modern objects. In the future, we certainly plan to put on display some of these objects.”

When the home of Hristo Popov was built, on Rakovski str. No.167, which is today located downtown the Bulgarian capital city, the place was actually located in the outskirts and part of the terrain was swamp. The beautiful building, a monument of culture, is remarkable and is located directly opposite the house-museum of poet Peyo Yavorov. Yavorov often visited Captain Popov along with many other citizens, part of Sofia's social and cultural elite. Repair works in the premises are almost finished and the house will continue to be a cultural center, but with a new name - "Place 167." Stefan likes this name as it is not pretentious.

The newest art space will host a library and a place where people could meet, read and talk about art. The official opening of the renovated building will be on May 17 with the photo exhibition "Dream" - a debut for photographer Johanna Trayanova. On the edge of realism and illusion, the images focus on the brief moment between sleep and reality, in which dreaming fades away and we return to our daily lives. The experience will be complemented by sound and light installation.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: library
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