The National Palace of Culture, SofiaSofia 1414, 1 Bulgaria Square
The National Palace of Culture or NDK as it is mostly known from the Bulgarian abbreviation is one of the most popular symbols of Sofia. Its huge silhouette on the backdrop of the magnificent snow-capped (most of the year) Vitosha Mountain is delight for the eyes of the local citizens and guests of the city, walking by the fountains of the vast Bulgaria Square. NDK is one of the largest and best equipped contemporary congress and exhibition centers on the Balkan Peninsular. It plays a prominent role in the cultural, business, social and commercial life in the Bulgarian capital city as a host of various concerts, movie shows, conferences, congresses, commercial exhibitions, Christmas markets etc.
The idea for the construction of this true contemporary castle comes from the former Bulgarian first-lady Lyudmila Zhivkova (daughter of the communist politician and leader of the former People's Republic of Bulgaria Todor Zhivkov). The project was worked out by a team of Bulgarian and foreign architects, lead by Alexander Barov. The landscaping of Bulgaria Square in front of the National Palace of Culture was made by another team of architects and landscape engineers, lead by Atanas Agura.
The National Palace of Culture was officially opened in 1981, as a part of grandiose celebrations of the 1300 anniversary from the foundation of the first Bulgarian medieval state on the Balkans in 681 AD. Following the schedule the construction works had to continue 12 years, but the palace was completed only for 4 years. After the official opening its further arrangement continued until it was finally completed in 1985.
The National Palace of Culture is built on a huge plot of land - more than 18 thousand of square meters. The volume of the building exceeds 576 thousand of cubic meters. Some people say that more steel was used in its construction than the steel of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The facade above the main entrance is adorned by the so called symbol of NDK – stylizes sculptured representation of the sun, which according to its author Georgi Chapkanov is inspired from the ceilings of the traditional old Bulgarian houses. It was made of bronze and has a diameter of more than 7 meters.
Today NDK is a multifunctional complex, which successfully combines late 20th-century architecture with elegant plastic art. Its interiors are decorated with hundreds of art works in the Bulgarian sculpture, monumental painting, wood-carving, metal working, tapestry and other genres. The palace features 13 large halls and 55 modernly equipped conference rooms with capacity from 100 to 4000 seats, distributed on the 8 floors and 3 underground levels. The exhibition area of the structure is more than 15 thousand of square meters.
NDK has won the prestigious "The Best World's Congress Centre" award for 2005, given from the International Association of the Congress Centers.