National Palace of Culture

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Front view of NDK

The National Palace of Culture (Bulgarian: Национален дворец на културата, Natsionalen dvorets na kulturata; abbreviated as НДК, NDK), located in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is the largest multifunctional conference and exhibition centre in south-eastern Europe. It was opened in 1981 in celebration of Bulgaria's 1300th anniversary.

The centre was initiated by a suggestion of Lyudmila Zhivkova, daughter of the communist leader of the former People's Republic of Bulgaria Todor Zhivkov). The project was designed by a team of Bulgarian and foreign architects led by Alexander Georgiev Barov (1931–1999). The landscaping of Bulgaria Square in front of the National Palace of Culture was made by another team of architects and landscape engineers, led by Atanas Agura. Internally, the building exhibits a unified style, employing an octagonal motif and heavy, dark colours. Large bright murals depicting historical figures and events cover the main wall of many of the smaller halls.

Architects of the main building are Alexander Barov and Ivan Kanazirev, while Atanas Agura is the architect behind the surrounding areas. During the 90’s, immediately following the change of the political model in the country, NPC lost a significant portion of its property, including infrastructure, commercial areas and car parks. Since 2011, NPC has been restructured into a commercial company, but it remains a state property. It is self-sustainable and it does not receive any subsidies. The first public financial report of the Palace was released in 2012. A substantial part of the revenues are annually invested in new projects and its own cultural events.

The Festival and Congress Centre (FCC) is the Varna branch of NPC. It was founded in 1986 and it is gradually becoming the center of some of the most prestigious events in the field of art and culture. FCC is host to artistic events and festivals, scientific meetings, seminars and more. FCC is the face of Bulgaria, when it comes to prestigious international congress organizations such as ICCA, EFCT, AIPC and it is included in the only pan-European network of cinemas, Europe Cinema, in the European Union (EU).

In July 2005, the National Palace of Culture was proclaimed the best congress centre in the world for the year by the International Organization of Congress Centres.[1]

The conference centre is equipped to host a variety of events, including concerts, multilingual conferences, exhibitions and shows. It has an area of 123,000 m² on eight floors and three underground levels. The National Palace of Culture has 13 halls and 15,000 m² of exhibition area, a trade centre and a car park. The main hall can seat over 3,000 people.

The Sofia International Film Festival takes place in the NDK.


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The National Palace of Culture is a major venue for concerts in the Bulgarian capital. Its halls are well designed and equipped with comfortable seats.[2] Many world famous singers, musicians and dancers have performed here over the years some among them being José Carreras, Mark Knopfler, Jon Lord, Gary Moore, Steve Vai, Anastacia, Sting, Joe Cocker, Uriah Heep.[3]


As of May 2011, NPC began to be managed by a Board of Directors (BoD) and as of December 2014, the Executive Director of the Palace is Miroslav Borshosh.

As of 2015 The Board of Directors is composed of: Valentin Krustev - Chairman, Miroslav Borshosh – Executive Director, Oli Grueva - Deputy Executive Director, Lyudmil Veselinov - Board member, Raina Gegova - Board member.


The total available area in NPC is 123,000 square meters spread over eight floors, four panoramic terraces and three underground levels. The palace also has 12 multifunctional halls with capacity from 50 to 4,000 seats. Each of the halls was designed with its own signature appearance, maintained to this day. NPC also has 54 more cabinets, offices and small conference rooms along with 17,000 square meters of lobbies suitable as exhibition spaces as well as 5 restaurants and catering companies located within the complex.

The building of the Palace has full service professional conference teams, who will aid in preparing and executing events, as well as sound systems, lighting, booths for simultaneous translation, TVs and recording equipment, stage equipment, sets and exhibition structures. A new Press Club was recently opened at NPC, which is already ranking among the most desirable venues for events and media events in Sofia. The Press Club is located in a spacious hall with 60 seats, including modern technology and a team of professionals with vast experience, who provide the highest standard of services. These are the main benefits of the Press Club, which make for successful conferences, seminars, trainings, business meetings, lectures and presentations. One additional new space in the building of the Palace is the "New Theatre - NPC", which features a salon of 160 seats. The new theater space in Sofia was opened on the 9th of March 2015 and offers the audience provocative performances of various genres. Interesting chamber performances by state and municipal theaters, performances of private troupes, debuts of young artists are also regulars in the program. During intermissions, the audience can enjoy a glass of wine, while in the lobby guests can find a library filled with dramaturgy. Every Saturday and Sunday children can enjoy puppet shows.


Annually, NPC is host to over 300 events such as international conventions, political forums, business conferences, scientific symposiums, music and film festivals, concerts, dance performances, theatre, exhibitions and fairs.

Guest orchestras and ballets: Bolshoi Theatre, Teatro alla Scala, S. M. Kirov Academic Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet, London Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera, Royal Swedish Ballet, the British Royal Ballet, Spanish National Ballet Guest Conductors: Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, David Giménez Carreras, Emil Tabakov, Rossen Milanov, Naiden Todorov, Metodi Matakiev Guest performers and groups: Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Nikolay Gayrov, Gena Dimitrov, Montserrat Caballé, Uriah Heep, Mezzoforte, Al Bano and Romina Power, Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club, Sting, Paco de Lucía, Chris de Burgh, Joe Cocker, James Brown, Goran Bregovic, Anna Tomova-Sintova, Mark Knopfler, Giya Kancheli, Yuri Bashmet, The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices, Hugh Laurie and others. Dance and show performances: Michael Flatley's “Lord of the Dance”, The fire of Anatolia, Night of the Sultans, Shaman, David Copperfield, Cirque Éloize and others. Art Exhibitions: Joan Miró – artworks, Oscar Tusquets Blanca - Design, Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master, Stoyan Iliev, National Art Gallery and others.


The Palace actively supports Bulgarian Culture – as an organizer and producer of its own festivals and events. NPC is a producer of three annual festivals, which have gained great national and international popularity: “Salon of the arts” in May, “Kinomania” in November and the “New Year’s Music Festival” in December. NPC undertakes the financing, organizing and programming of the content, as well as the marketing campaign for the festivals. This year also marked the start of a new project by the Palace – “Salon of the Art Galleries” In partnership with cultural institutions, diplomatic missions and foundations, NPC participates in Sofia Film Fest, The Sofia Musical Weeks, charity events, collaborated exhibitions and book premieres. In 2012 NPC was a co-organizer of the forums for modern art, for city environment, Sofia Dance Week and Sofia Architecture Week. It is also host to the spring and autumn International Book Fair and to the B2B Fair “Stroiko”.

Salon of the Arts

„Salon of the Arts” is a traditional festival by NPC, which celebrated its 20th anniversary edition in 2015. It is held annually during the month of May and it combines different forms and genres of art – music, dance, theatre, opera, ballet, cinema, and fine art. The “Salon” has become a well recognizable and anticipated by the public festival. The program is balanced to include various events aimed at different groups of viewers. The Festival audience is extremely diverse, as is the program. It includes young children, students and working people with middle and high incomes from different professions and interests. The festival traditionally awards the so-called "Award of the Salon" which is given for prestigious excellence in overall achievements in the field of art and culture. The “Salon of the Arts” is on average visited by over 40,000 people.


“Kinomania” started in 1987 as a world Film Panorama on the Bulgarian market. For 28 years of its existence, the festival has become a well-known brand and it is enjoyed by a loyal audience. The program of each edition includes premieres of some of the most attractive and valuable films from the world’s cinema industry over the past two years, which have not been shown on the Bulgarian market. The selection of films for “Kinomania” is a precise process, which changes every year in order to become more attractive for the viewers.

New Year's music festival

The New Year’s music festival is one of the most prestigious events in the NPC Calendar. It was created in 1986 by the conductor Emil Chakarov /1948-1991/, the most talented student and assistant of Herbert von Karajan, who brought to Bulgaria his inspirations from the musical holidays in Vienna. During its 26-year-old history, the stage of NPC has had the pleasure to host the Bolshoi Theatre, Teatro alla Scala, S. M. Kirov Academic Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet, London Symphony Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Nikolay Gayrov, Gena Dimitrov, Montserrat Caballé and many others. The culmination of the New Year’s Music Festival is the concert of classical music on the 1st of January, which enjoys great interest every year. On average the festival is visited by over 50,000 people.


As a consequence of a new approach towards the implementation of the ambitious goals of the Executive Director of the Palace, Mr Miroslav Borshosh and the Board of Directors, as of 2015, the National Palace of Culture has undertaken a number of new projects. The most important of them are:

SALON OF THE ART GALLERIES “Salon of the Art Galleries” premiered for the first time in 2015. The idea behind this new platform is to create opportunities for an active creative and artistic dialogue between galleries, patrons of art, the public, painters, artists, gallerists, media, potential clients, different cultural institutions, managers of art events and others. The National Palace of Culture presents opportunities for the spaces in the Palace to become a current and modern platform to exchange ideas and experiences, different viewpoints, and to engage in a variety of creative discussions and partnerships. "Salon of the Art Galleries" will precede one of the key image events in the calendar of the National Palace of Culture – the 20th anniversary edition of "Salon of the Arts". The official opening of the first edition of the “Salon of the Art Galleries” began with an exhibition of “Georgi Bozhilov – Slona (1935 – 2001): Retrospective”. To honour the 80th year birth anniversary of the author, the curator Anzhela Daneva premiered her book alongside a showing of a movie, filmed by the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), dedicated to Georgi Bozhilov – Slona.

NATIONAL BOOK CENTRE The new National Book Centre is created to aid Bulgarian literature in terms of translation and popularization abroad. It is a kind of heir to the mission of the previously closed State Book Centre. Director of book centre is Svetlozar Zhelev. The idea is for the centre to interact with state institutions, universities, schools and others, without usurping the functions of the State. Alongside the book centre, an Advisory Board was created, composed of: Alek Popov, Annie Ilkov, Milena Fuchedzhieva, Radoslav Parushev, Alexander Shpatov, Jacqueline Vagenstein, Manol Peykov and Teodora Dimova. The National Book Centre in Sofia was established with the help of the Ministry of Culture and it is supported by the Association "Bulgarian Book".

NEW THEATRE NPC Through this project NPC gives young, as well as already established artists, the space for expressions, as well as room for rehearsals and nonstandard projects in all types of genre. Initiator of the project is Mr Boyko Iliev. The theatre’s program officially started on the 5th of March 2015 with mono performances, children's shows and visiting troupes. The theater, which seats 160 people, is housed on the site of the former music store "Balkanton" in the passage of NPC. An around the clock café is planned as well as a bookstore, as is the case with other major theaters in the world. The team of "New Theatre - NPC" is composed of: Alexander Urumov Dimitar Stefanov and Tsvetan Nikolov. The stage serves for performances from a variety of genres, including cinema, opera and even night performances, which can be seen on Fridays and Saturdays from 22:00.

THEATRE “AZARYAN” As of March 2015, Hall 2 at the National Palace of Culture now bears the name of the infamous director, Krikor Azaryan. The amphitheater will be the second largest stage after the National Theatre, which will host quality performances. The fate of the theater "Azaryan" is entrusted to one of the most talented contemporary Bulgarian dramatists - Yana Borisova. For the first season, some of the best Bulgarian directors were invited to realize their productions, as well as some of the younger artists. Regarding the program of the new theater "Azaryan", a grand amount of emphasis will be placed on Bulgarian dramaturgy. The last production by NPC in Hall 2 was the dance spectacle “The Dinner” by Robert Tannion, 13 years ago.


Over 1 million visitors pass through NPC annually.


The National Palace of Culture works very closely with some of the most significant institutions and organization worldwide, such as UNESCO and NATO.

Works of art

NPC is a natural home to over 80 monumental works of art - paintings, sculptures, mosaics, murals, woodcarvings and metal works, created especially for the interior of the Palace by leading Bulgarian artists from the second half of the XX century.

In the main building of NPC there are works of art by some of the most established Bulgarian master artists – Dechko Uzunov, Marin Vurbanov, Svetlin Roussev, Pavel Koychev, Teofan Sokerov, Anton Donchev, Dimitur Kirov, Ivan Kirkov, Hristo Stefanov, Galin Malakchiev and others.

The logo of the palace represents a Phoenix, shaped by curved strips and rays positioned in a circle. The emblem is the work of the graphic designer Stefan Kanchev.

The sign, symbol of NPC, placed above the main entrance is the work of Georgi Chapkanov and it represents a stylized sun reminiscent of the ceilings in Old Bulgarian houses. The symbol is made of bronze with a diameter of about 7 m. From its concave hemisphere, rays come out - ears of corn, with a length of 2.60 and 1.80 meters.

In the lobby of the Palace stands the gilded sculpture "Revival", also known as "Mother Bulgaria" by the sculptor Dimitar Boykov, which symbolizes a welcoming and revived Sofia. A part of the interior of NPC is another representative sign – a bird woven into sunrays, symbolizing the flight towards knowledge and light.


2010 Second place at the International contest for the “Apex” award by the International Association of Convention (AIPC) 2009 Silver award by “New European Economy” magazine for the best congress centre 2008 “European award for quality” by the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) 2005 Award “Apex” for the “Best convention centre in the world” by AIPC 2003 Second place at the International contest for the “Apex” award for the “Best convention centre in the world” by AIPC

International conferences

2012 World Health Organization (WHO): World meeting of the regional commission of WHO for Europe 2012 UNESCO: Conference of Ministers of Culture for South East Europe 2009 Fifth International Congress on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources in South East Europe; 2009 Meeting of the chairpersons of the Economic and Social Councils of the Member States of the European Union; 2007 Annual Economic Forum of the countries from the Central European Initiative 2006 Twelfth meeting of foreign ministers of the countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).



External links

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