The writer, in love with the past, would not have seen the former Party House, TSUM, the Council of Ministers and the Largoto, but would have ended up on the then most emblematic Sofia street, which forever disappeared from the face of the capital as a result of the bombings of 1944. She wore the name “Targovska” and was the favorite city artery, connecting the germ of Old Sofia – Banski Square, with the inn of the Beylerbey, and later with the Tsar’s Palace.
Bearing this name not by chance, it appeared probably from the beginning of the city’s existence and was an important trade route both in Ottoman times and during the Bulgarian Renaissance and in more distant history. And the old residents of Sofia say that at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, “Targovska” still concentrated the soul and fervor of city life in itself – just like today’s “Vitoshka”.
It was distinguished by its lavish architecture, gathering in itself the most representative boutiques and offices in the city. Against the background of its slender facades, numerous small shops and stores were clustered, and in front of them, from early dawn, their enterprising owners and traders came out, preparing for the long day with a cup of aromatic Turkish coffee in hand. Even before the roosters crowed, hoarse voices were spreading the announcement of the disappearance, just like the street, already from the market sweet drink salep, boza, pie, pretzels and freshly baked chestnuts, whose aroma could be felt from afar.
“In the days before the Second World War, when a person was walking down Targovska Street, which was completely destroyed by the bombs over Sofia, he was seriously at a loss as to where to stop and stare,” writes Dragan Tenev in his memoirs. On it, one could literally find everything from socks, buttons and various ornaments, through wedding dresses, men’s hats and military caps, to medicine, gold, typewriters, Swiss watches, film cameras and even weapons… And probably all kinds of other things…
The noble ladies and gentlemen, dressed in their modern European clothes, also passed here. The impeccable outfit of the female gender often included a long dress, overflowing with colorful motifs, accompanied by a veil, and for the men, trousers, a jacket, a breastplate and a bombshell were mandatory. Sometimes men added a cane as an accessory (even if it wasn’t necessary), and women wore neat parasols. Along with them, “Targovska” street was also used by all the high-ranking guests of the palace, who, after getting off the station, walked along “Maria Luiza”, then past “Banya Bashi” turned this way and found their way to the palace garden from the western entrance.
All this colorful romance floated no more than half a kilometer in length. Starting exactly at “Alexander I” square, the first part of the street was interrupted by the current beginning of “Dondukov” blvd., which in the past continued to “St. Nedelya” square. If we had ever stood with our backs to the west side of the palace, its very point of departure would have been found before us at the present pilasters of the Party House. Right there on the right was the Hotel “Coburg”, which in the first years of the 20th century was rebuilt into the impressive building of the insurance company “Balkan” by the architect Friedrich Grünanger.
Nearby we would also find one of the old Sophia fountains imported from Vienna. In Sofia at that time, baroque cast iron fountains were the earliest decorative elements used to decorate the squares, gardens and representative city locations. Their installation began in the 80s of the 18th century, but unfortunately most of them were removed over time. On the left, two small beautiful buildings were then nestled, after which in 1911, directly opposite the Büyük Mosque at the bottom of the square, the “Union Palace” hotel was built – owned and designed by the architect Nikola Yurukov.
Before we reach the intersection with “Dondukov”, we will come across many more shops with a wide variety of offers for our customers, and then, with all its grace, on the other side of the boulevard, the building of the famous grand hotel “Panah” would shine. built at the end of the 19th century. Until 1927, it was possible to eat a delicious croissant and drink a cup of coffee in his patisserie, but then the Phoenix Insurance Company was erected on the same site, whose building still stands. Back left, right at today’s last columns of the Party House , and the corner building with the “Tiring” clothing store was erected.
From the second part of the street, the minaret of “Banya Bashi” was already clearly visible. However, before that, on the right, we had the chance to stop by the famous passage “St. Nikola”, which was located in the triangle formed by “Targovska” street and “Maria Luiza” and “Dondukov” boulevards. One of the first confectioneries in the capital – “Ohrid” and “Rosa” – on the left corner of the passage between “Dondukov” and “Targovska” Street. It was named after an Austrian woman of the same name, who was the owner, and on the sidewalk in front of it, in typical Italian fashion, small tables were arranged for visitors. Here, on the site of the current Council of Ministers, was also the Macedonian Cafe, where the Macedonian delegation met at that time.
However, before the heyday of the street between the 20s and 30s of the 20th century, it still did not have this presentable appearance and looked more like the old post-liberation alleys until the reconstruction of Sofia by Dimitar Petkov. In the past, 5 rays went from Banski Square to the most important geographical centers in the country, and “Targovska” was one of them.
An extremely famous building here, already known to travelers from the 16th century, was the Chohaji Khan, where Dubrovnik merchants once stored their cloth (chochi). It was a large square building with thick walls and two doors. After its destruction in the 80s of the 19th century, during the regulation of the street, all that remained of it were the goldsmiths’ shops on Drin Street.
Opposite it, on the other side of the street, there was another remarkable building – the old bezisten, which, until the reconstruction, stood high above the small shops and houses that were attached to its outer walls. It was an oblong building with several cubes, and inside, on both sides of the passage, there were small shops. Irecek heard from old Sofia residents that around the 1940s the bezisten had a large door and still kept nine of its cubes. The most expensive goods were stored in it then. Raina Kostentseva says that here we were able to find all kinds of antique bracelets and ornaments – cuffs, pendants, earrings, chibuts, filigree silver hairpins, necklaces, brooches and others, writes “Telegraph”.
“The whole “Targovska ulitsa” with its famous goldsmith’s shop was a picturesque and enchanting corner, and if it had been preserved then, today it would be one of the most original old decorations of the capital,” she wrote in 1967, when the street had long since was erased from the face of the city, the site was cleared and soon after it fell within the framework of the urban development plan of the new central square Largoto.
Today, a few old photos and postcards remain of this tale, and the remarkable Josef Oberbauer immortalized it for nostalgic Sofians in one of his most beautiful watercolors.