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Women’s Market – Zhenski Pazar

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Bulevard Stefan Stambolov, 1202 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Sofia
  • Posted 2 years ago

The Zhenski Pazar Market is Sofia’s oldest market. It was founded immediately after Bulgaria’s freedom from Ottoman dominion and eventually grew to become the most significant and famous trade center in Sofia in the twentieth century. It is currently the living history of the development of commercial connections in downtown Sofia, located in the center section of Sofia, between two huge boulevards – “Todor Alexandrov” and “Slivnitsa”, near the Lion’s Bridge. The historic urban architecture, mixed with contemporary pavilions and kiosks offering fresh food, vegetables, and other goods, creates a one-of-a-kind ambience and a feeling of authenticity and history that has accompanied the growth of this market center.

On 2014, “Vazrazhdane Markets” EAD spent BGN 8.2 million in the rebuilding, with 80 percent of the finance coming from the European Initiative “Jessica” and the remainder coming from own funds.

The market always has fresh food, and visitors can always depend on the vendors’ guidance and direct interaction with Bulgarian farmers and producers. The diversified urban environment in the neighborhood enhances the market setting even more, allowing tourists to pick from an abundance of imported Middle Eastern items, Arabian spices and products, or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants serving unique cuisine.

Visitors may take a break at one of the many fast-food restaurants and cafés, while professional dealers fill their shopping bags with the items they need. The market offers a playground, which is a big plus for families with children.

Because of the near vicinity to temples representing all of Bulgaria’s recognized religious groups, Zhenski Pazar Market is known as a “Area of Tolerance.” One of Sofia’s oldest churches, “Saints Cyril and Methodius,” is located here, where tourists and inhabitants of the air may see the daily services or a joyous liturgy on one of the Christina feasts. The “Banya bashi” Mosque and the Central Synagogue of Sofia are also nearby.

The “Serdika” Gallery in Zhenski Pazar Market is Sofia’s unique art gallery that operates effectively in an open-air trade area. The Gallery displays paintings, prints, and photographs, as well as hosting art workshops, concerts, book readings, and meetings with artists and public personalities.

The vitality of the sellers and their wares, as well as the authenticity of the urban architecture, make Zhenski Pazar Market a year-round tourist attraction. Every day, it is visited by a large number of visitors from Bulgaria and its capital city, who leave with some traditional Bulgarian souvenirs and items, as well as a pleasant recollection of a day well spent.

History of Zhenski Pazar

Historically, before to its liberation (1878), Sofia was a typical Ottoman Empire metropolis, with quarters/communities centered on a mosque, synagogue, or church. The creation of Bulgarian Christian quarters was further aided by a special order issued by Sultan Mehmed IV in 1663 specifically barring Turks and Jews from settling in Sofia’s “Bulgarian section,” known as Varosh.

The bazaar, modeled after the oriental concept, was located in the city’s heart, where incoming travelers frequently congregated. This “bazaar” actually formed a whole market quarter just before the Liberation, which has become a center of manufacturing, trade, as well as active social activities and public performances; one of the most famous studies in this area – V. Aleksandrov wrote that “in the open-air and indoor markets in Sofia it was possible to find and buy the most extraordinary merchandise: from witch-doctor medicines of dubious medical value, to expensive foreign jewelry.”

The market quarter was really a network of distinct quarters or bazaars divided by trade and/or ethnic markers – Jewish, Butcher’s and the adjacent Shoemakers (Emishchiyska, Kavafska, or Papukchiyska), Goldsmith’s quarters, and so forth. The Painter’s and Canvas district was to the east of the latter, and between the Zhezhki Bunar (Hot Well) (the Mineral Public Baths) and what is now Dondukov Boulevard was the so-called Sheytan (Devil’s) sector.

The modern Court of Justice was the Clerk’s quarter at the time, as were the furriers’ and tailors’ quarters. In most cases, these craftsmen quarters also served as marketplaces for the and products of the respective craftsmen – for example, the Painters’ Market mentioned in the Life of St. Nikola of Sofia, the Coppersmiths’ Market near the St. Spas church, Salt Bazaar, Bal Bazaar, where honey and wax were sold, Zhenski Pazar Market near the large Banya Bashi Mosque, Zhenski Pazar Market near the large Banya Bashi Mosque, Zhenski Pa (near the Mineral Public Baths).

And here’s some history on the market, which was once known as the Kirkov Market during the Soviet era. This market was founded during the period of Bulgaria’s freedom from Ottoman domination, and it was known as the “Wheat Market” and “Horses Market” at the time.

It was designed to let people of the capital city to purchase fresh agricultural items while also allowing farmers from adjacent communities to market their harvest. This location was on the outside of the city at the time, but it is currently inside the official bounds of Sofia’s ideal center (it borders the boulevards Patriarch Evtimiy, Hristo Botev, Slivnitsa and Vasil Levski).

Few people are aware that the market is located on the Stefan Stambolov avenue, which most Sofia residents are unaware of. Close by are the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, the Synagogue, the Central Market Hall, the western wall of the historic Serdika, and a plethora of other “tourist attractions.”

Nearby attractions

Though a spectacle in and of itself, there is certainly enough to uncover around the market. Despite its prominent location, some people see the region around it as “the dilapidated section” of the city center. Nonetheless, it is one of the most historically important. The architecture around the market is distinct from the rest of the city. It also displays more of Sofia’s “back in the day” charm. All of this contributes to a one-of-a-kind vibe that is difficult to resist. That is where many people find the area’s charm. While in the market, don’t forget to look at:

  • Lion’s Bridge
  • Pirotska Street – Sofia’s first pedestrian street
  • Central Market Hall
  • Sofia Synagogue
  • Banya Bashi Mosque

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