Location: Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, stands at 550 m altitude in the plain of the same name and is surrounded by the Lyulin Mountain and the Vitosha Mountain. Its location makes the climate soft and pleasant. The population numbers 1 200 000 people.
History: The Thracian Serdi tribe settled here in the 7th century BC and gave the first recorded name of Sofia -- Serdica. The Byzantines called it Triaditsa and the Slavs - Sredets. The modern city of Sofia was named in the 14th century after the basilica St. Sofia. In Greek, word sofia means wisdom. In the 3rd century AD, the Romans built strong walls around Serdica, their capital of Inner Dacia and an important stopping point on the Roman road from Naisus (present Nish, Yugoslavia) to Constantinople. After the Hun invasion of 441, the town was rebuilt by the Byzantines. The Slavs gave Sredets a key role in the First Bulgarian Empire, then in 1018 the Byzantines retook Triaditsa. At the end of the 12th century, the Bulgarians returned and Sredets became a major trading center of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The Turks captured Sofia in 1382 and made it the center of the Rumelian beylerbeyship. The city declined during the feudal unrest of the 19th century, but with the establishment of the Third Bulgarian Empire in 1879, Sofia once again became the capital of Bulgaria.
Places of Interest: Among the attractions of the city is the oldest monument, build in the 4th century BC - the Rotunda of St George. In the 6th century AC it was a Christian temple. Under Selim V the monument was turned into a mosque. Although it’s not big, it is adorned with finely preserved frescoes.
The Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church was built from 1904 to 1912 and is 72 m long and 55 m high. It is gold- domed and gold- arched and the interior decoration is brilliant.
The church of "Saint Petka Samarjiiska" was built in 14 century. It has mural paintings, layered in 3 coats from 15-17 centuries.
Among the architectural attractions are the well preserved Bania Bashi Mosque, the Russian church "Saint Nicholay", the house of the National Theatre, etc. At the foot of Mount Vitosha is located the Boyana church, biult in the beginning of the 11th century. The mural paintings impress with the realism of the painted scenes. The talent of the artist is found in the painting of Tsar (King) Kaloyan and his wife, named Desislava.
Like any capital city, Sofia is rich in museums. The National History Museum undoubtedly has the finest collection. It was assembled in 1981 to celebrate 1300 years of Bulgarian statehood. Thracian gold treasures are spaciously displayed, often singly, so they can be fully appreciated. Artefacts such as bas-reliefs, ceramics and silverware reveal the achievements of the medieval capitals, and there is a strong collection of material from the National Revival period, including folk costumes, carpets and domestic items.
Like any other European capital it is the hub of the country's political, business and cultural life, the center of various international events.
There are many theatres, an Opera, an Operetta, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries.
Sofia offers an excellent opportunities for international congresses, symposia, meetings, conferences and fairs. Special business centers and deluxe hotels are in the proximity of the bustling city center.
The five, four and three-stars Sofia hotels offer good conditions for business, rest and entertainment. Tranquillity seekers can choose from among the numerous small private hotels in Sofia's suburbs and enjoy excellent service in addition to home comfort and traditional Bulgarian hospitality.
Shopping in Sofia is quite an experience. Shining shops offer design clothes, small antique shops, private art galleries displaying icons, modern art and jewels, music shops (CDs and cassetes) and shops for traditional crafs feast the eyes.
Most restaurants in Sofia serve European and Bulgarian cuisine. A visit to a tavern is a must. They entertain with folk music, songs and dances in addition to a menu of delicious typically Bulgarian dishes and choice drinks.
Each night in Sofia is a thrilling experience. An option is a concert,opera or theatre.Jazz and rock clubs or piano bars are also there. Disco fans will find Sofia discos as good as any in Europe. Night clubs have variety shows in the small hours.Casinos in Sofia don't close before dawn.
Transport: You will probably find the center of Sofia more accessible by tram, bus, or trolley bus than by car due to the shortage of parking space. Public transport runs from 5am till midnight for buses and trolley buses and till 1am for trams. Tickets are for single trip and are sold at kiosks at the major stops, at newsstands or in driver's cabin. You have to punch them inside the vehicle. If you transfer you must use another. Tickets are inspected at random by conductor.