Built by the Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, the building alone is worth the journey: A fabulous brooding presence at the foot of Vitosha, the "Palace" (it has no bedrooms; only huge entrance areas and massive meeting halls) has a wealth of '70s design detailing, and clearly no expense was spared in ensuring that the proportions suitably awed and intimidated all who came to seek an audience. The massive collection is no less impressive; the most interesting offerings are displayed on the halls on the second floor, dating from "Prehistory: 6th to 2nd millennia B.C." (Hall 1) and "Bulgarian lands from the end 6th century B.C. to 6th century A.D." On the third floor you'll find the slightly dull and badly labeled "Third Bulgarian Kingdom 1878-1946" in Hall 5, and various temporary exhibitions in the remainder. If you're pushed for time, head straight for Hall 2 to view the Thracian-era armor and jewelry, the biggest display outside Varna's Archaeological Museum. Then take a look in Hall 3, if only to admire its magnificent ceiling and views of the overgrown yet stylized gardens that flow into the mountain wilderness.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010