The Republic of Bulgaria is a state settled in southeastern Europe. Today, Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and NATO. The capital of the country is Sofia.
Sofia is the capital and at the same time the biggest city in Bulgaria. Sofia is the center of the city of Sofia and Sofia County. 1.3 million people live in the city and 1.7 million in its metropolitan area.
The city is settled in the western part of the state, in the center of Balkan Peninsula, in the midway between the Adriatic and the Black Sea and closest to the Aegean Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in mid-Balkan and has a very good strategic position since it is in the center of several important traffic roads. It is one of the highest cities in Europe- the elevation of the city is 550m.
Today’s name of the city, Sofia, comes from the St. Sofia Church. It is probably derived from the Egyptian Kemetic word meaning star, wisdom, and teaching. It remains unknown how, but this name strengthened under the Ottomans.
The course of history
Long time ago, Sofia was inhabited by Thracians. It was called Serdika (Serdi- the Thracian tribe). In ancient times, this area was external north of Greek civilization. It was conquered by Romans, destroyed by Huns, and rebuilt by Byzantium. In the twelfth century, Sofia became a part of a Serbian state under Stefan Nemanja.
Sofia was released by Russians in 1878. In 1879, it became the capital of Bulgaria Principality. During the Second World War, the city was invaded by Soviets and after this a communist regime was established.
Governance and population
Sofia is the center of Bulgarian state authorities – the Parliament, the Presidency, the Council of ministers along with all the ministries as well as courts.
If it’s to judge by the crime rate, Sofia is one safe capital.
Most people who live in the city are Bulgarians of orthodox religion. The rest of population form Gipsies, Turks and Russians.
Tourism and culture
When it comes to tourism in Bulgaria, Sofia is one of the most visited destinations in the country. The symbol of Bulgaria is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral constructed in the late 19th century. It is settled in Sofia. It is an impressive building that occupies 3.170 square metres.
Most Bulgarian museums are settled in this city. This attracts tourists from all over the world. Some of the most important and most spectacular museums in Sofia are: The National Historical Museum, the National Archeological Museum, Earth and Man, and National Museum of Military History. As you can see, Sofia is very rich in museums. This doesn’t only attract regular tourists but also students from all over the world.
The beauties of Sofia are not only its museums. A pedestrian zone called Vitosha Boulevard is a vivid and extravagant place with lots of cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and of course, like every other capital, luxurious stores.
As Sofia is close to Vitosha Mountain it is even more attractive to the tourists.
The city has sixteen Universities.
Like the entire country, the capital also has many churches: St. George Church, St. Sofia Church, Patriarchal Cathedral and, of course the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Arts and entertainment are a big part of the city’s life. The oldest institution of performing art is the Ivan Vazov National Theater situated in the hearth of the city. The National Opera and Ballet were established in 1891. For those who enjoy art, make sure to visit The National Art Gallery and the National Gallery for Foreign Art.
During past few years, cinema became very popular form of entertainment for residents of Sofia. Cinemas are now mostly part of trade centers and malls. One of the largest IMAX cinemas in Europe is right here, in Sofia.
Many foreign cultural institutions are settled in this honestly special and unique city. Her you will find the Russian Cultural Institute, Goethe Institute, British Council, institutes of Polish, French, and Italian culture.
The biggest and most important radio and TV stations as well as telecommunication companies are in Sofia (Bulgarian National Television and others).
When it comes to sports, football is the most popular but basketball and volleyball also have long tradition here. CSKA, Lokomotiva, Levski and Slavia are most popular sport clubs.
Some other facts about Sofia
The fact that it’s the capital tells us a lot. Sofia is the main center of Bulgarian economics. Over 800 major factories found their place in this special city. The city is the center of the Bulgarian National Bank, Bulgarian Stock market as well as many other important banks.
Public transport is well-developed with bus, tram and trolleybus lines running in all areas of the city. The city has got eight railway stations and an airport (Sofia Airport). If you are not a big fan of public transportation, you can always take a taxi since there are over 15,000 registered taxis in Sofia.
Forbes listed Sofia as one of the top ten places to start up a private business in 2015. This is because of low tax and great internet connection (among the fastest in the world). In 2013, Sofia was the most affordable place to visit.
Prices in Sofia
Meal in inexpensive restaurant cost 5-15 euro, fast food 1-3 euro. Domestic beer in market is 0.50-0.70 euro, bottle of wine 4 euro, water (1.5 liter). Taxi 1km 0.40 euro, one-way ticket (local transport) 0.80 euro. Gasoline (1 liter) 1.07 euro.
Emergency and service numbers
Car breakdown service: 1286
Fire brigade: 160
European Emergency Hotline: 112 (like 911 in the USA)
Sofia is not only a nice place to visit but also a place that provides great opportunities, especially for private business. Whichever of these two attracts you, make sure to come to Sofia and enjoy it completely.