Although Stamboliiski’s figure stands proudly before the Opera House on Rakovski St., the street named for him runs from the Sheraton Hotel to the west of Sofia.
Alexander Stamboliiski was a major figure in Bulgaria’s modern history, prime minister from 1919 to 1923, ideologue and leader of the Agrarian Party, the strongest single party after WWI.
His party’s line was not far removed from that of the Communists, another radical party whose star was rising at that time across Europe, though rather than equality for the workers, Stamboliiski required equal land distribution for the peasants. This he managed to achieve and, following a strong anti-urban and anti-industrial policy, his government redistributed land to the peasants. His policies made him unpopular with the bourgeoisie and social tensions increased. Following an attempt on his life in 1923 by the Macedonian Revolutionary Party (IMRO), he responded with fierce repressions against his political opponents. The IMRO finally managed to capture and murder him brutally, chopping off the hand that signed the Treaty of Neuilly which took away the country’s border territories (including Macedonia) following its defeat in WWI.
Look out for: Dvorets na Detsata (The Children’s Palace) – about 2km from the center on your left you will see a large ugly monolithic building in a style that can be seen all around Bulgaria and in particular in Sofia, the National Palace of Culture. Despite its ugly concrete totalitarian appearance this building serves a very worthy purpose as it is in fact a large community center with a busy programme of sports and arts activities for children at affordable prices.