Something colourful, something atypical, and something you can surely only see in Bulgaria and Sofia – these are our iconic Klékshops. Even though locals are used to their existence and don’t find them interesting, these small shops are typical and different and have an intriguing history.
Can you believe that after the horror of the First World War and before the beginning of the Second World War, Bulgarians designed small bomb shelters in the basements of apartment buildings in Sofia, with a separate room for each family? They often had a small window that was right at the level of the sidewalk. However, times changed, and after ’89, when communism went away, Sofians quickly developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the tone of the new times. The basements, some of which were actual bunkers, turned into small shops at the level of the feet of passing pedestrians. They call them klékshops because you have to kneel to be able to buy something.
Although today they are rather extinct, the few remaining klékshops still keep fresh the memory of the early democratic transition when entrepreneurship flourished with the available spaces and materials. Some of the most iconic reminders of this transformation still operate in the city centre today. There are around 27 shops along Sofia’s most central streets where you can still kneel down to buy essentials like coffee, waffles, cigarettes, beer, and even freshly squeezed juice or croissants. And some of the klékshops are still populated by craftsmen, shoemakers, and tailors who serve their long-time customers and have watched the city and its people change from below over the years. If you want a real #soSofia memento for your social networks, just kneel for a photo in front of the most colourful and original shop you find in Sofia!
#soSofia tip: Buy something even a pack of gums, an authentic #soSofia moment.