Sophia replaces Lenin

In the heart of Sofia, there once stood a statue of Lenin. In 2001, the communist leader was replaced by a new emblem: Wisdom.

Sculptor: Georgi Chapkanov

If you ever visit Sofia, you can find this beauty at the intersection of Maria Louisa and Todor Alexandrov Blvds. There was some controversy when Sophia was erected; some considered her to be too erotic and pagan to be referred to as a Saint.

This eight-meter high, copper and bronze statue is adorned with the symbols of power (crown), fame (wreath) and wisdom (owl). The crown is also a reference to the Tjuhe, Goddess of Fate, the city’s ancient patron.

I really like this statue, especially her hair. It’s got great detail. The bronze and gold made me think of an angel, while the owl reminded me of Athena. (Which might explain the gyro I had for lunch today.)

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As an interesting aside… I’m not sure what the coins are that hang from the crown. Coins are a common Bulgarian adornment, with many different meanings, so one can’t just assume they stand for wealth.

For instance, parents will place a shiny coin on a newborn’s forehead. This isn’t to make them look good, but to ward off the attention of evil spirits. The idea is that people will see the beauty of the coin and admire it, instead of the child.

When I was at church on Sunday, one of the girls got angry because people were commenting on how cute my kids are. Urochasvam!, you’ll catch bad luck! This was followed by a bout of old women spitting on the kids. Again, the idea being that evil spirits, who covet things of beauty to corrupt, will not look to the girls. Why would they? People are spitting on them, so they must be grotesque!

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