Sofia (София), the capital of the Republic of Bulgaria, is one of Europe’s most compact and walkable capital cities. Situated in the foothills of Vitosha Mountain in the Sofia Valley, the city lies at the intersection of the main roads connecting Western Europe and the Middle East.
The city's name is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the 'o', in contrast with the tendency of foreigners to place the stress on 'i'.
With a history that goes back to the Neolithic (New Stone) Age, Sofia is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Through the centuries, many nations have inhabited these lands and have added to its rich and diverse history. Remnants from the city's past can still be seen today alongside modern landmarks: the castle gates and towers of Roman Serdica, Byzantine churches, archaeological treasures, monuments and mineral baths, public buildings and streets thousands of years old.
Curious to learn more about the city?
Take a walk around Sofia with one of our teachers - Mr. Terry Randall:
Roman emperor Constantine the Great used to call the city of Serdica 'My Rome'.
Sofia has been given several names by the different nations that have inhabited it. The Thracian tribe Serdi settled here in the 7th century B.C. and gave the first recorded name of Sofia - Serdica. The Byzantines used to call it Triaditsa and the Slavs - Sredets. In the 14th century the city was named Sofia after the Roman basilica St. Sofia.
Sofia (Σοφία) means 'wisdom' in Ancient Greek.
Since ancient times, Sofia has been famous for the abundance of thermal and mineral water springs in and around the area. This water is still available today and is praised for its numerous qualities. Sofia is a surprisingly green city with lots of tree-lined streets and boulevards and Mt. Vitosha right on its doorstep. It has a continental climate with high temperature amplitudes. The capital enjoys moderately hot summers, snowy winters and beautiful springs and autumns.
Mt. Vitosha is sometimes referred to as the 'lungs of Sofia' for the refreshing breezes it deflects onto the capital.
The city has certainly developed quickly over recent years and its motto, ‘Grows but never ages’ sounds more appropriate than ever. Today Sofia is a bustling and lively cosmopolitan city with more than 1.7 million population. Like any other European capital, Sofia is the centre of Bulgarian culture, education, science and economy. Although no grand metropolis, Sofia is nevertheless an attractive and cultured city with plenty to keep you busy: museums, art galleries, theatres, exhibitions, concerts. The city has an extensive nightlife with many fine restaurants, clubs, piano bars, pubs, live venues, and more.
Popular Sofia meeting points – the Eagle’s bridge, statue of Popa (the priest), Sofia Univeristy, NDK (National Palace of Culture), and Slaveykov square.
Major Sofia landmarks: