Sofia is the capital and largest city in Bulgaria. The city is surrounded by mountains and is one of the tallest cities in Europe. To the south and not far from Sofia, the Vitosha Mountain extends up to 3,000 meters. There are several rivers that run through the city. According to the last census, 1.5 million people live in this city; most are of Bulgarian origin and Orthodox Christian religion.

The city’s motto is concise and clear: “Расте, но не старее.” (Ever growing, never aging). And it really is like that. Sofia is characterized by a tumultuous and long history, but regardless of all the failures and scars left by history and circumstance, the city is fast-paced and energetic.

Here are some interesting little facts about this fascinating city.

  1. The city was built from the ruins of the Thracian (and later Roman) city of Serdica. It was very important for the Balkans because of its favorable geographical position. Below the center of Sofia lies a whole city, invisible to modern inhabitants and tourists.
  1. Sofia was formerly known as Sredets and Tradiats. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the city received its name current name Sofia. It was declared the capital city of Bulgaria after five centuries of struggles and warfare against the Turks, in 1879.
  1. Foreign tourists have a lot of problems with the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet. In Sofia, it’s rarely translated into English, making it difficult for tourists to navigate the city without a guide or translator.
  1. The oldest university in Sofia – founded in 1888 – is St. Kliment Ohridski.
  1. The construction of the subway lasted for thirty years. The ruins of the old Roman city also slowed down the process and the desire of Bulgarians to modernize city traffic. You can see a part of the excavations from the Roman period around the metro station Serdica.
  1. In the center of Sofia, there is a bathroom dating to the 16th century. Today, it is the location of a historical museum. In front of the building, there are two fountains with thermal water. Sofia is very rich in thermal water sources.
  1. During the Second World War, the Bulgarians were allied with the Germans, but Tsar Boris III and the leaders of the Bulgarian Church saved 480,000 Jews from certain death. Tsar Boris III paid his disobedience with his life and mysteriously died after meeting with Hitler in 1943.
  1. There are free organized mountaineering and hiking tours around Sofia. Tourists find the Balkan Bites Tour the most interesting. During this tour, tourists visit restaurants and taste traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
  1. Bulgarians love to drink soup! There are small shops that sell a bowl of soup for 1 euro everywhere around Sofia.
  1. The center of Sofia was tiled with a yellow cobblestone that was produced more than 100 years ago at a Hungarian factory.

 

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