Sofia

A Tour of Sofia's Central Cemetry

08 Dec 2016

Cemeteries are actually the only place where princes meet paupers, with all due respect to Mark Twain.

For nearly a century and a half, the Balkans have witnessed turbulent political changes and several wars. As a result the Central Cemetery is the last resting place for many foreign soldiers. War graves in plot 91 mostly from World War II, show the characteristic Russian cross on the black granite tombstones. The Romanian and Serbian war graves are nearby, in plots 67 and 68, marked by lush greenery. The area is not restricted and anyone can walk through the iron gates to pay their respects.

The Commonwealth and the German war graves from both World Wars are in plots 21 and 5 divided by a low stone wall. Here the former adversaries lie side by side in posthumous reconciliation. Nearby is the joint plot of France and Italy, the final resting place for many prisoners of war from the first World War. It is closed to the general public and visits here can only be arranged with the permission of the respective embassy.

There is also a common vault for Bulgarian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their country. It’s located just behind plot 1 and is usually open just for ceremonial occasions. Nevertheless, one can admire the grim larger-than-life statue of a soldier at his post at the main entrance of the memorial.
Many of Sofia’s elderly citizens still remember the air raids in the winter of 1943-1944. So too, they remember the bravery of a young Bulgarian pilot, Dimitar Spisarevski, whose humble grave, number 89, is in the pilots plot. During an air battle over Sofia on 20th December 1943, he destroyed a B24 bomber by deliberately flying his aircraft into it. He was posthumously promoted to captain.

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