The former king’s residency and park opened to the public in 2013 for the first time in its 100-year history. The idea to bring back the park and the residency to their original condition, though, is yet to be completed. With restoration works pending, the palace is not yet open, and a large section of the park is also off limits for visitors.
The park, though gorgeous, is hardly worth the trip of 11 km and the entrance fee of 5 lv per person, but if you decide to head that way, devote half a day. Guided tours (in Bulgarian) leave on the hour from the main entrance.
The small restaurant just outside is the only place to buy food or drinks. The surrounding semi-industrial area is quite gloomy.
Vrana was completed in 1912, and was to serve as a summer residency for the royal family. They loved the place and preferred to spend most of their time here, instead of at the King’s Palace in the center of Sofia. The villa to the left was erected first, followed by the larger building attached.
The park that surrounds the residence was also arranged with much care and attention under the strict supervision of Tsar Ferdinand, a devout naturalist. The area boasts a great variety of trees and plants brought in from all over the world. In the past, it was also home to exotic animals, including the first elephants brought to Bulgaria.
After the Communist party’s ascent to power, Vrana was nationalized and used for various purposes throughout the years, including as a residence for the country’s new leaders. In the late 1990s, the palace was returned to the king’s heirs, who in turn donated it to the Sofia municipality under the condition to open it to the public.
The palace’s unusual name is due to yet another of Tsar Ferdinand’s passions: ornithology. The palace, he decided, would be named after the first bird that lands on its roof.
Not surprisingly, a regular black crow, common in the area, beat all other feathered species to the punch. Thus, the name Vrana (or crow) was selected.
Bus 505 (from Orlov Most bus station)
9:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. (every hour on the hour) and back from 11:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. (hourly)
Saturday and Sunday only
Price: 1 lv or public transportation card
PARK ENTRANCE FEES
Adult: 5 lv
Child: 2 lv
Family ticket: 8 lv
Open Saturday and Sunday only