• Mosaics in Sofia Airport, “Terminal 1”

Mosaics in Sofia Airport, Terminal 1

Mosaics in Sofia Airport, Terminal 1

The construction of the airport near “Vrazhdebna” district began in 1937. The large passenger terminal (Terminal 1) began to be built in 1938 based on the project of architects Nikolai Marangozov, Petko Tsvetkov, and Tsvetan Dobrev.

The building design is restrained and lacks excessive opulence. Its architecture stands out with clear shapes and balanced proportions. The exterior paneling is of white stone complemented by pale balanced colors. The building was officially opened in 1947 but was not fully completed until 1949.

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Mosaic Map of Europe and Mosaic Map of Bulgaria by Ivan Penkov, 1949

In 1949, artist Ivan Penkov finished his work on the two stone mosaic panels decorating the building. The mosaics depict maps of Bulgaria and Europe with their major cities. On the “Map of Europe” mosaic, each city is represented by a distinctive building; Sofia is portrayed by the airport building itself. In the “Map of Bulgaria”, the cities are marked by representative buildings or leading industries. For example, the symbol of Sofia is the patriarchal cathedral “St. Alexander Nevsky,” Russe’s the railway station near the port, Troian’s pottery, and Burgas’ an anchor, and Kystendil’s fruit. The artist adds details where they are needed for a factual representation but otherwise omits them. The colors are balanced and muted. By combining geographically accurate facts and artistic vision, the artist created mosaics with both a utilitarian and aesthetic function. The year of the mosaics’ completion (1949) is depicted on the map of Europe. Some of the Bulgarian cities’ names were edited later (i.e. Shumen was written as Kolarovgrad, a name the city received in January 1950), which is evidence for editing of the mosaic’s authentic look after its creation.

Gallery: “Map of Bulgaria”

Gallery: “Map of Europe”