If you dream that a time machine exists to experience the life of the past centuries, we invite you to learn the history of Malko Tarnovo – a small and charming street in the centre of Sofia, which hides memories of the centuries-old history of our capital under steep stairs of its modest 60 m. Malko Tarnovo Street is the shortest pedestrian street in Sofia and, at the same time, is located at one of the highest points of the city. We call it “the street of time” because it hides underneath all kinds of testimonies about the history of our capital, and learning about them is like taking a walk in the past.
Malko Tarnovo connects the boiling cultural and social life of the present day, from 4500 BC. In the 2nd century BC, Ulpia Serdica stood here – a huge Roman theatre the size of the Colosseum, built by Emperor Trajan, where military trials, gladiatorial battles, and wild animal hunting games were held.
During the Middle Ages and the years of Ottoman rule, the street was called “Chasovnikova” because it was also the location of Sofia’s Clock Tower, which urban legend tells it was deliberately set on fire by a clockmaker to keep his business safe and avoid showing people the time for free.
Today, the clock on Malko Tarnovo Street is the location of the Sofia Comedy Club, which was known as the famous Luna Bar during the time of the Bulgarian Monarchy. Urban legend has it that it was the favourite place of King Boris III. So favourite that he would literally skip from his palace in his slippers to enjoy a drink in pleasant, friendly company, even without security.
There is also a door in the street that has been the terror of thousands of citizens in the past. During the communist regime, prisoners were brought through it before being assigned to the court or to the camps in Belene, Lovech, and Rositsa. Urban legend reveals that “unruly youths” were also brought there to have their hair or charleston legs cut. True or not, the cells are also sung in rock ballads by the great Bulgarian bluesman Zhoro Minchev. Today, it houses the State Archives Agency, which preserves the memories and legacy of these stories and many more.
#sоSofia tip: This little street is one of the fastest shortcuts from the centre to the Old Jewish Quarter.