Park-museum Vrana will impress you with a magnificent ensemble of 821 tree, shrub and grass species in an area of less than 100 ha. It was established by Tsar Ferdinand for the royal family as an out-of-town summer residence.
Over the course of 40 years, a number of renowned landscape designers have been involved in the development of the parkland. Until 1908, the gardener-landscaper was Vasil Georgiev, who undertook the largest afforestation measures and built the first alleys and paths in the park – the Main Alley, the Alley with the plane trees and others.
The main composition of the park was designed by the Fench gardener Jules Lochot, who was the first director of the Princely Botanical Gardens in Sofia from 1887-1908 and later a professor at Versailles, Paris.
From 1903 to 1908 the Austrian Johann Kellerer of the Munich Botanical Gardens designed and built the six rockeries. The king personally ordered their construction because of his great affection for the alpine flora of the Bulgarian lands.
The Czech Anton Kraus also worked as the chief gardener. Under his direction, most of the tree vegetation was planted. He laid the foundations for the volumetric and spatial construction of today’s remarkable open spaces in the park. In 1911, the Daallem rock garden was built, named after the famous botanical garden in Berlin. Among the many tree species that can still be seen in the park today are oak, sequoia, fir, sycamore, liriodendron, linden, pine and others.
At a later stage, two ponds were constructed with waterfowl and lotuses. For 10 years a small branch of the Royal Zoo in Sofia resided on the territory of the park. There were deers, two elephants, a camel, yaks, swamp birds and pheasants. The king purchased two elephants from Hamburg, which he named Nal and Damianti, after the ancient Indian epic. Apart from entertaining the king’s children, they were used for farm work.
Today, the park is open for visitors and in autumn is hosting the Sofia lights festival creating a magical visual reality in the park.