BRIEF HISTORY OF SOFIA
Sofia is one of the oldest European capitals. The city’s history can be traced to the Neolithic age. There are few traces found of Neolithic settlements dating from 5000 BC. In VII century BC, north of the hot mineral springs near the river Eleshnitsa (nowadays- Vladayska), an ancient Thracian city arises, documented later by the Romans as Serdika – name, for which is assumed that comes from the local Thracian tribe Serdi living in the vicinity of the city. In the Roman age (I – IV century AD) the town flourished as a center of the province of Inner Thrace. In V – VI century during the so-called “Great Migration” there were invasions of Huns, Goths and other barbarian tribes.
Since mid-VI century the city was revived as an important administrative and economic center of the Byzantine Empire named Triaditsa.
In 809 the town became part of the Bulgarian state under the name of Sredets. Since the end of XIV century to the 70s of XIX century the city and the Bulgarian country are under Ottoman rule.
Since the beginning of XV century the last name of the city is Sofia (Αγία Σοφία – Holy Wisdom)
Sofia was chosen as the capital of Bulgaria on April 3, 1879 by the Constituent assembly.
Today Sofia is the largest city in Bulgaria and the 13th largest city in the European Union. Sofia is the main administrative, industrial and transportation center of the country. With Population of 1,291,591 people, representing 17.5% of the population of the country and contributes to the creation of more than 34% of GDP. The Metropolitan region includes 38 cities, 1.2% of the country’s territory, but it concentrates the one- fifth of the workforce in Bulgaria. Sofia is a young and intelligent city with 20 of all 44 universities in Bulgaria with over 40,000 students. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is also located in Sofia.
Sofia is a city-garden with nearly 10,000 acres of park territory. Over Sofia with an area of 300 sq.km. rises and one of the most popular Bulgarian mountains – Vitosha (www.park-vitosha.org). It offers excellent tourist centers, maintained ski tracks and facilities that can be used at night. Vitosha Nature Park is home to beautiful and natural phenomena such as Boyana waterfall, stone rivers, Duhlata cave – the longest cave in Bulgaria.
Sofia is a city with rich cultural heritage. The cultural routes in Sofia are charming combination of ancient history and modern city. This town center is located above the center of ancient Serdika whose heritage can be seen at every turn. On the total territory of Sofia municipality were registered around 1400 cultural monuments, including about 840 in the central part. One of the seven cultural monuments in Bulgaria, protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site – Boyana Church, famous for its murals, is also located in Sofia (www.boyanachurch.org).
The cultural routes that our city offers are many, but the users of TripAdvisor, one of the best tours of the cultural heritage of the city, can do a free professional guides with the NGO “Free Sofia Tour” (www.freesofiatour.com) .
The visitors can explore and unknown places and sights – cultural mysteries of the city thanks to the cultural map, created by a team of teachers, students and students of department “History and Theory of Culture” at Sofia University (http://piron .phls.uni-sofia.bg/sydyrjanie).
Sofia is a city with rich cultural life. The cultural calendar of the city offers a wide range of seasoned international festivals and events such as the Sofia Film Fest, Sofia Music Weeks, Sofia Design Week, Sofia Dance Week, Little Sfumato season, Water Tower Art Festival and many others. The richness and diversity of the cultural life in Sofia is not limited to festivals because the city is full of events every day in many theaters, galleries, cinemas, concert halls and alternative cultural spaces of the city. Mapping of the arts, cultural and creative industries, commissioned by Sofia Municipality and performed by the Observatory of Economics of Culture emerged Sofia as a national center of cultural and creative industries. The main indicators of the economic importance of cultural and creative industries – value added, employment, turnover, number of enterprises, direct foreign investment – show a concentration between 49% to 92% in the city. These figures give reason to call Sofia – a city of cultural and creative industries. Undisputed favorites for growth in a year of crisis are design, heritage, software, film industry.
Sofia became the capital of Bulgaria 131 years ago.
In Sofia intersect 3 international transport corridors.
1 / 3 of the first budget of Sofia in 1879 goes for lighting.
The first light bulb lights up in Sofia on July 1, 1879 for a formal meeting in the city of Prince Alexander Battenberg.
The first telephone conversation takes place in Sofia in 1884
In 1896 a Czech, August Shedevi, who is living in Sofia introduced the first car in Bulgaria.
Sofia is lit with electricity in November 1, 1900
On January 1, 1901 the first electric trams start. In 1936 it began production of the first Bulgarian trams and three years later is established the first Bulgarian construction – all metal, which at the time was unique in design.
10 years after the liberation the foreigners living in the new capital, brought the bicycles. Ivan Vazov called it “diabolical vehicle” and citizens of the capital – bitsikal.
Carriages remain long common means of transport. In the thirties , they have 20 piazzas. There are even state (“kazyonni” as they say) carriages, with which the mayor, municipal officers, officials and heads of hospitals go to work.
The City Park is the oldest park in Sofia, located in the city center in front of the former royal palace. It was opened officially on April 4, 1878 and originally called Alexandrovska garden. According to a study of WAD foundation it is one of the favorite places of the citizens of Sofia.
On the territory of Sofia municipality there are 7 zones of national ecological network Natura 2000. Sofia can be crossed only through its parks, according to a city resident.
Sofia has 49 mineral springs.
The residents and visitors can enjoy free wireless Internet in the park “Zaimov” , around Ariana Lake in Central Park, The Central Market Hall, the bridge behind the NPC, the Doctor’s garden, the garden of “Tsar Osvoboditel”, garden “Banska”, the garden around the church “St. Sofia” and South Park.
In Sofia is exhibited the oldest gold treasure in the world, found in Bulgaria with over 3000 gold items which are over 6 000 years old.