The Orel Insurance Company

54, Alabin Str.

The monumental building at the corner of Alabin and Graf Ignatiev was constructed in 1928, for the Orel [Eagle] Insurance Company. The building was designed by the Chernev, Apostolov, Mikhailovski architectural bureau. Its founders had received their education in Europe and have contributed a number of emblematic landmarks to the capital, including the new building of the Slavyanska Beseda Hotel. The building stood out with its six floors of reinforced concrete. It was crowned by a corner vaulted roof on top of which a copper eagle with wide-spread wings perched on a globe.

For the sculpture was commissioned Kiril Shivarov – post-graduate at the Fine Arts Academy of Vienna. His portfolio includes also the figures of the brothers Evlogi and Hristo Gueorgievi at the entrance to Sofia University; of the Shipka monument’s lion figure; of the sculptures decorating the buildings of the Bulgarian National Bank, the Ivan Vazov National Theater, the Sofia Municipal Library, the Court House, and many more.

In addition to its impressive size and façade, the building was also distinctive for its lavish interior – marble floor tiles and tiling, wainscoting, crystal window portals, and mosaics – the latter by the artist Ivan Penkov – graduate of the Munich Academy of Fine Arts and author of the stained glass decoration of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and of the Bulgarian National Bank.

     During the Second World War, the downtown area where the building of Orel Insurance Company stood was among those most severely hit. Although the building itself was spared a direct hit, it suffered damage by the shockwaves. Most detrimental to its overall architectural design, however, prove not the bombings, but the representatives of the new post-September 9, 1944 regime. Kiril Shivarov’s eagle is removed on grounds of semblance to Nazi symbolism – a fate shared by the phoenix sculpture crowning the building of The Bulgarian Phoenix Insurance Company. In the building moves the Blagoev Regional Council, and to this day, it still accommodates the administration of Triadica Municipality.