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About city Gallery Where to stay

The Bulgarian capital is one of Europe’s oldest cities with a colourful history that began several millennia ago. Truth be told, Sofia became the country’s most important city only in recent times, 150 years ago. This, however, in no way stops it from being a centre of Oriental and European culture, filled with contrasts, beauty and energy.

Throughout its history, the Bulgarian capital has changed its name many times. The current one – Sofia – means wisdom. In the city centre a statue dedicated to Sophia, goddess of wisdom, radiates tranquillity and peace. The pictures on the statue’s column tell the city’s ancient history, and also mention its old name – Serdica.

In this city, history follows you everywhere. During the Ottoman rule it was forbidden to build Orthodox churches, so the surviving houses of worship are small and don’t have impressive domes or towers. However, inside they are decorated with old icons, carvings and frescoes.

View over city of Sofia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  View over city of Sofia

The Turks built many mosques, of which only three survive. The most famous – the Banya Bashi – is the only one that remains virtually unchanged. The mosque was built over natural thermal spas that have therapeutic qualities – Sofia is known for quality mineral water, and is commonly used by its people.

Sofia’s motto is “Grows, but not ages”. The city expands but the monuments and buildings are preserved and renovated, although the limited budget does not allow renovating all buildings at the same time.

He city’s most important architectural and historical objects are the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (the biggest church in Bulgaria, also the symbol of liberation from Turkish oppression), Saint Sophia Church (a unique piece of medieval architecture), and the surviving Church of St. George that stands next to the Sheraton Hotel. In this capital, people are attracted to the Ethnographic Museum, presenting the everyday life of the nation; the National Gallery of Foreign Art, which displays art from Europe, Africa and Asia; and the National Archaeological Museum, as well as many other sights.

The Museum of Socialist Art
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Museum of Socialist Art

When you’re tired of visiting museums and galleries, you’ll feel better after walking through Sofia taking in its sights. It is impossible not to notice the beautiful bridges – the Lions’ Bridge in the northern part of the city will impress you with four lion sculptures, and the Eagles’ Bridge will attract you with its four sculptures of birds, showing all four cardinal directions.

An artificial lake ripples in the Gardens of Boris, where visitors can rent a catamaran. Other city parks, including Geo Milet, Doctor’s Garden, South, West and North parks, are also cosy, although a bit smaller. Tourists especially love Vitosha Park around the Vitosha mountain massif, which has ten peaks. Here you can see the unique “stone rivers” (conspicuous rock landform in old riverbeds).

Vitosha mountain, near town of Sofia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Vitosha mountain, near town of Sofia

If you’re after luxurious shops, cafés, restaurants and clubs, you’ll feel at home in the streets of Count Igntatius, Yacov and Vitosha. Sofia’s nightlife is wild and the Bulgarian cuisine is great.

Where to stay

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