Another stretch of Sofia’s inner ring road, Patriarch Evtimii Blvd, is named after the man Bulgarians consider their greatest church and spiritual leader of all times. He lived in the stormy 14th century, which saw both the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture and spirituality and the conquering of the Bulgarian nation by the Ottoman Turks.
Born around 1332 in Turnovo, the then capital, he was sent to Mount Athos, the centre of Eastern Orthodox learning at that time, and the Bulgarian Zograph monastery there. His great importance for the development of Bulgarian language and culture lies in the new translations he made of the sacred texts into Old Bulgarian. In 1375 when Evtimi was elected Patriarch of Bulgaria he legitimated his linguistic, spelling and literary reform, countering the Greek Orthodox Church’s dominant position.
The true glory of the last Bulgarian Patriarch as spiritual leader of his people came after the capital Turnovo was conquered by the Ottomans in 1393 when he summoned the people to the St Peter and Paul church and preached the Bulgarian faith. Patriarch Evtimii was exiled to Bachkovo Monastery. There he created a school, whose fame quickly spread all over the Balkan Peninsula. Evtimii of Turnovo convinced those who were forced to adopt Islam "to reject the darkness of the Saracen disgrace" and till his death in 1402 he made efforts to protect Bulgarians from Islamisation