[singlepic id=35 w=180 h=120 float=left]With over one million items on display, Sofia boasts the largest natural history museum in the Balkans. Housed in a rather unassuming building at 1 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd, this central location makes it easy to get to for enjoyment in small bites.

The museum exhibitions are arranged in 16 halls, including rooms dedicated to mineralogy, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, non-insect invertebrates, paleontology and special exhibitions. As of this writing there is a ground floor exhibition on evolution to celebrate 150 years since the publishing of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

As in all natural history museums, the animals on display take center stage. There are several dioramas depicting life in the wild, as well as unique specimens such as a brown bear claimed to be one of the largest in Europe. Children will be enchanted by the bears, large cats, antelope, and other stuffed creatures, but perhaps put off by the neatly organized snakes in formaldehyde. The giant turtle is a must see that is sure to please. The birds seem exceptional, which is only fitting for a country with world class birding locations. In addition to covering the basics, the museum displays include many extinct and endangered species from Bulgaria and around the world.

The mineral collection is larger than expected, with many specimens from classic worldwide localities. The Bulgarian section is exceptional, with large and beautiful examples from the mining regions of the country.

Another interesting exhibit describes life in the Black Sea.

The top floor of the museum holds an interesting display of plants with known medicinal uses. Bulgarians are very familiar with medicinal plants, and it seems every household has its favorite natural remedies. The display is a bit worn, but still interesting and informative, especially for those of us less familiar with the topic.

The broad variety of material on exhibition makes the National Museum of Natural History a great place to spend an hour or two on  rainy afternoon.  Great for kids of all ages.

The museum is open from 1000 to 1800, 362 days a year. It is closed only on 1 January, 3 March and 25 December.

National Museum of Natural History
1 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

General +359 2 987-4195
Operator +359 2 988-5115
Tickets + 359 2 988 51 15 (ext. 706)