You will not find the building of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on any tourist map of Sofia. There’s a good reason for that – in order to see it from the inside, you either have to work there or be part of any visiting delegation. Also, it’s a bit out of the main tourist walks.
Shame, though, because it’s one of the best examples of the development of the city in the end of XIX and beginning of XX century. Foreign architects and their mostly foreign-educated Bulgarian counterparts had to turn a small Ottoman town into a grand capital with an European feel and look.
Interestingly enough, the Bulgarian architect Nikolay Lazarov won both the first and the second prize in the international design competition. Following his ideas, the grand structure with two majestic towers and a clock combines numerous architectural styles and elements, including baroque and Art Nouveau (a.k.a. secession). Not hard to explain given that Lazarov graduated in France.
Finished in 1927, the building was necessary for the purposes of the regional administration which it housed till 1944. After the change of power in Bulgaria, the agriculture ministry moved there and has been there ever since.
At some point Sofia municipality decided they want to move in and switch buildings with the ministry but the idea was discarded as too expensive. When he was still Sofia’s mayor, the former prime minister Boyko Borissov himself wanted local officials to use what he described as ‘the most beautiful building in Sofia’.