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Anand and Topalov will play in the Central Military Club

The most attractive building in Sofia for generals, actors and even folk singers in undoubtedly that of the Central Military Club. It is one of the the first monumental public buildings after the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman occupation. It gathers for various events people of all ages and character – be it a fashion review or celebrating Astronaut's Day. On busy days are held between 7 and 11 events. In some occasions like Proms or Christmas celebrations the figures get to 150-200 a month.

The Club changes its name several times. With a Decree of the Parliament, the Sofia Officers' Council is renamed in 1948 to Central House of People's Troops (later changed to Army). After the transition to democracy in 1991 it becomes Central Military Club.

'Last New Year's Eve was so crowded that a pin wouldn't fall on the ground, but this one will be different' says a Club employe. This year there were no parties in the emblematic building as it was renovated and the work were completed a few days ago.

“Before 9 September 1944 here were held meetings with the Tzar. The officers celebrated with Vienna balls. This is one of the five buildings that mark the center of Sofia and is of great historical and architectural value', sheds some light behind the curtain of history the military official.

All starts with a decree in the distant 1894. Tzar Ferdinand proclaims a special law, which yields the land and the buildings in front of the Palace for a building of Sofia Military Officers' Council. Construction begins the next year after a project by the main architect of Sofia at that moment – the Czech Antonin Kolar – in Neo-Renaissance style. 180 000 golden levs are paid for the land for a period of 3 years. In 1898 the Bulgarian architect Nikola Lazarov takes over the works and completes it in 1907. The interior decorations are made by the Vienna master Greiss and Marin Vasilev. The three floors are with allocation characteristic for club buildings of late XIX century and are separated according to their functions.

Yet with its grand opening, the Club turns into the entertainment center for the elite.
This is the place where the Bulagarian theater and opera were found. The legend says the the Tzar preferred to spend his time in the Club rather than in the Palace. The monarch had his own box with a WC and room to rest. Through a secret door on the second floor admitted visitors – rumor says most of them were female. After 1944 his box was demolished and turned into a storage but today it is fully restored.

The Military Club is renovated for first time since 1907 in 2006. Special order of materials are made, in order to achieve an authentic view. All halls have access to internet and the possibility for conference connection.

The building of the Central Military Club is proclaimed for architectural and artistic monument of culture with national value. It grabs the attention not only by its imposing facade, a reminder of past epochs, but as well with its incredible interior. The staircase is tiled with black Italian marble intertwined with silver linings. Even in the inlaid floor there is symbolic – it has the markings of tzar's St. George's cross, and the Baroque concert hall is unlike any other in the capitol. It seats 500 spectators while at 4.5 meters height shines a heavy chandelier with 48 000 'Swarovski' crystals.

The unique sound is achieved by built in the walls acoustic pots. It is no coincidence that here sang famous artists as Lili Ivanova, Margarita Hranova, Yordanka Hristova, Biserovi sisters, 'Tonica'; Veselin Topalov made exhibitions of simultaneous chess games; Dimitar Berbatov deliver award on behalf of his foundation; TV 'Fan' gathered douzens of pop folk singers for its awards.

Long time ago in this very Concert Hall were guests celebrities as the Russian opera singer Fyodor Shalyapin, the Bulgarian soprano Christina Morfova, the bass Nikolay Gyaurov and the actor Krustyo Sarafov.
The Official Hall is mainly use for press conferences and official meetings. The Music Hall and 'Gallery' Hall are mainly used for art exhibitions.

Besides the official events, promotions, reviews, auctions and weddings, the building is a favoured place to relax after a hard day. There are three entertaining facilities that rent Club's territory – the clubs 'Chervilo' ('Lipstick') and 'Black Label' and pizzeria 'Victoria'.

The entrance to 'Chervilo' is on the ground floor of the Central Army Library. Over 130 000 volumes are kept in that library, which was decorated with 'Cyril and Methodius' 2nd degree for its importance as army cultural center.
The very place of the Military Club – at the crossroad of 'G.S.Rakovski' and 'Tzar Osvoboditel', makes it a center of cultural value. In the vicinity are situated the Russian Church, the memorial temple 'St. Alexander Nevsky', the central building of the Bulgarian Academy, the Parliament and many theaters.

Tzvetelina Sheneva
'24 hours'

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