National Palace of Culture Bulgaria, Sofia

National Palace of Culture

The National Palace of Culture, 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 at the 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) along with Ivan Kanazirev. The landscaping of Bulgaria Square in front of the National Palace of Culture was designed 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.

During the '90s, immediately following the change of the political model in the country, the NDK lost a significant portion of its property, including infrastructure, commercial areas, and car parks. Since 2011, the NDK has been restructured into a commercial company, but it remains a state property. It is self-sustaining, receiving no subsidies. The first public financial report of the Palace was released in 2012. A substantial part of the revenues are invested annually in new projects and its own cultural events.

The Festival and Congress Centre (FCC) is the Varna branch of the NDK. 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.

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 square meters on eight floors and three underground levels. The National Palace of Culture has 13 halls and 15,000 square meters 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.