Sofia, the vibrant capital of Bulgaria, is full of art and history, delectable food, and a great nightlife scene. It is situated near the geographical center of the Balkans region, in the Sofia Basin, a troughlike valley in the western part of the country. With a variety of remarkable churches and museums to visit, this Bulgarian city is an inexpensive and relaxing destination for many travelers.
Surrounded by sprawling parkland, Sofia, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria, lies at the foot of popular ski mountain, Vitosha. With a history that stretches over seven millennia, ruin-rich Sofia is one of Europe’s oldest cities. The first settlement was established in the region in the 8th century BC by the Serdi, a Thracian tribe. It flourished during the reign of the emperor Trajan and reached its greatest height under the emperor Constantine I the Great.
Sofia is one of the most underrated cities in Europe, so you can explore its many historical sites without jostling with huge tourist crowds. Sofia is also the center of Bulgarian air and rail traffic. Local transport is served by tramways, trolleybuses, and buses, while several cable lifts ascend the neighbouring Vitosha Mountains. The city offers sights like onion-domed churches to ski slopes and hiking trails all within an arm’s reach.
Among the many educational institutions in Sofia are the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the University of Sofia (1888), the oldest establishment of higher learning in Bulgaria. The city also contains the Cyril and Methodius National Library, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre and Opera House, an astronomical observatory, and a number of museums. In addition to the restored St. George, Boyana, and St. Sofia churches, historical monuments include two mosques, one housing a fine archaeological collection, and the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, erected to commemorate the gratitude of the Bulgarian people to the Russian liberators of 1878.
The National Historical Museum is one of Eastern Europe’s most extensive. Wide, cobblestone boulevards, charming boutiques and truly electrifying nightlife star in this city of 1.3 million. Trolleys, trams and buses traverse the dynamic city.
Bulgaria’s pleasingly laid-back capital is often overlooked by visitors heading to the coast or the ski resorts, but they’re missing something special. Sofia is no grand metropolis, but it’s a modern, youthful city, with a scattering of onion-domed churches, Ottoman mosques and stubborn Red Army monuments that lend an eclectic, exotic feel. Excavation work carried out during construction of the metro unveiled a treasure trove of Roman ruins from nearly 2000 years ago, when the city was called ‘Serdica’. Away from the buildings and boulevards, vast parks and manicured gardens offer a welcome respite, and the ski slopes and hiking trails of mighty Mt Vitosha are just a short bus ride from the centre. Home to many of Bulgaria’s finest museums, galleries, restaurants and clubs, Sofia may persuade you to stick around and explore further.
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