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Sofia (София)
"Расте, но не старее"
("Grows, but does not age")
Sofia coat of arms Map of Bulgaria, position of Sofia highlighted
Basic data
State : BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria
Oblast : Sofia city
Residents : 1,241,675 (December 31, 2018  )
Area : 492.092 km²
Population density 2,523.3 inhabitants / km²
Coordinates : 42 ° 42 '  N , 23 ° 19'  E Coordinates: 42 ° 41 '50 "  N , 23 ° 19' 24"  E
Height : 595 m
Postal code : 1000
Telephone code : (+359) 02
License plate :
Administration (as of November 15, 2009)
Mayor : Jordanka Fandakova
Ruling party : GERB
Website :
Aerial view of the city center

Sofia ( German [ ˈzoːfi̯a ]; Bulgarian София , [ ˈsɔfijɐ ]) is the capital of Bulgaria . The city is located in the plain of the same name in the west of the country. With its 1,238,438 inhabitants (as of 2017) it is the largest and most populous city and the administrative center of the Sofia-City district ( oblast ) . Around every sixth (17.5 percent) inhabitant of Bulgaria lives in Sofia. Sofia is divided into 24 districts . The Iskar River and several smaller rivers are located in the urban area .

The city has been continuously settled since the Neolithic Age, making it one of the oldest settlements and cities in Europe . Known in antiquity as Serdica or Sardica and in the Middle Ages as Sredez , Sofia was elected the capital after Bulgaria's regained independence in 1878 and became the country's political, economic and cultural center. For this reason, the most important theaters, museums and other cultural institutions in the country are now located here.

With its universities, the oldest dating from 1888, colleges and research institutions, Sofia is the outstanding educational center and with numerous publishers, radio and television companies as well as daily and monthly newspapers, it is also the dominant media center in the country. Sofia is the seat of the Bulgarian government, the Bulgarian President, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and other important administrative and military authorities as well as the residence of the Bulgarian Patriarch.



Sofia is located in the Sofia plain , a wide plateau in the west of the country, near the border with Serbia . Five mountain passes lead into the plain and thus to Sofia - the Iskar Pass, the Wladaja Pass, the Dragoman Pass, the Petrochan Pass and the Botevgrad Pass.

The city is located on the northern slope of the 2290 m high Vitosha Mountains , which are a popular destination for the Sofia people and dominate the backdrop of the whole city. The basic shape of the Vitosha Mountains is almost circular with a diameter of about 15 km. In the west the city borders on the Ljulin and Losen Mountains.

Sofia with Vitosha Mountains in the background
Sofia's "local mountain": the Vitosha Mountains (video)

In the north and northeast, about 50 kilometers away, are the Sofia Mountains and the Murgasch Mountains , which are part of the Balkan Mountains , which run through the whole of Bulgaria in an east-west direction and divides the country into a north and a south half. This mountain range is the namesake for the entire Balkan Peninsula.

The longest river in Bulgaria, the Iskar, flows through the eastern part of the city . Two of its tributaries, the Perlowska and Wladajska, also cross the city, but can hardly be seen in the cityscape.

In the center of Sofia, as in the districts of Ovcha Kupel , Knjaschewo , Gorna Banja and Pantscharewo, there are mineral springs whose use has been proven since ancient times.


Sofia has a temperate continental climate . Due to the high location ( 550  m ), the winters are snowy and cold and the summers are warm. The annual average temperature is 9.7 degrees Celsius, the average annual rainfall reaches 572 mm.

The warmest months are July and August with an average of 19.4 to 20.0 degrees Celsius and the driest months in January and February with an average of 27 to 33 millimeters of precipitation. The greatest amount of precipitation is recorded in May and June with an average of 73 to 75 millimeters. The coldest month is January with an average of −1.6 degrees Celsius.

The Bulgarian capital is the mistiest city in the country with around 33 days per year. A record for Bulgaria is 29 days of fog in a row, which were registered in Sofia in December 1948.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: WMO: World Weather Information Service ; Humidity, hours of sunshine:
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Sofia
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 2 5 10 16 20th 24 26th 26th 23 17th 10 4th O 15.3
Min. Temperature (° C) -5 -3 0 5 9 12 14th 13 10 6th 1 -3 O 5
Temperature (° C) -2 -4 4th 10 14th 18th 20th 20th 18th 14th 9 0 O 10.1
Precipitation ( mm ) 28 31 38 51 73 75 63 51 38 35 48 41 Σ 572
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 2.4 3.0 4.2 5.7 6.6 7.9 8.5 8.1 7.4 5.3 2.9 2.2 O 5.4
Rainy days ( d ) 10 10 10 12 14th 13 10 8th 7th 7th 9 11 Σ 121
Humidity ( % ) 82 79 72 65 67 68 64 62 68 77 80 84 O 72.3
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: WMO: World Weather Information Service ; Humidity, hours of sunshine:

Administrative structure

Districts of Sofia

The city of Sofia is the center of the provinces of Sofia and Sofia City and the Greater Sofia Municipality. The Greater Sofia Municipality geographically consists of the city of Sofia and three other cities and 34 villages.

15 of 24 Rajone (bulg. Райони / rajoni) in the Great Municipality of Sofia comprise only parts of the city, 6 and surrounding villages. Three districts of the municipality ( Pancharevo , Novi Iskar and Bankja ) only include areas outside the city limits, even if these are within the province of Sofia-City and fall under the jurisdiction of the Greater Sofia Municipality. Each of the Rajons is divided into several districts and has a mayor who is elected by secret and direct election for four years.

The boroughs are:

1. Bankja (Банкя)
2. Vitosha (Витоша)
3. Wrabniza (Връбница)
4. Wasraschdane (Възраждане)
5. Izgrev (Изгрев)
6. Ilinden (Илинден)
7. Iskar (Искър)
8. Krasna Polyana (Красна поляна)
9. Krasno selo (Красно село)
10. Kremikowzi (Кремиковци)
11. Losenez (Лозенец)
12. Lyulin (Люлин)

13. Mladost (Младост)
14. Nadezhda (Надежда)
15. Novi Iskar (Нови Искър)
16 Owtscha Kupel (Овча купел)
17 Oborishte (Оборище)
18 Pantscharewo (Панчарево)
19 Podujane (Подуяне)
20. Serdika ( Сердика)
21 Slatina (Слатина)
22 Studentski grad (Студентски град)
23 Sredets (Средец)
24 Triaditza (Триадица)



Roman thermal baths, today Georgs Church
Sweta Petka from ancient Serdica in today's center of Sofia, in the middle of the Serdica subway station

Sofia looks back on thousands of years of history. It is certain that the site has been settled for over 5000 years, and recent archaeological finds indicate that there was a Stone Age settlement here as early as 8000 years ago . According to this, Sofia would be one of the oldest settlements in Europe.


During the 7th century BC A settlement of the Thracian Serds , a warlike tribe, which gave this city the name of their tribe "Serdica", arose in today's city center . 339 BC The city was conquered by Philip II , King of Macedon (382–336 BC). After the occupation in 29 BC The Romans built their “Ulpia Serdica” here, the capital of the Inner Dacia , which developed into a flourishing metropolis under Emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajan between 98 and 117 AD. The military importance was also great, here the ancient streets Via Militaris and Via Traiana intersected .

In addition to a mint, numerous sizeable public buildings (forum, theater, bath ) and temples were built. At the end of the 2nd century, a strong, twelve-meter-high fortress wall surrounded the city. Serdica is significant in terms of church history because of the Imperial Synod of Serdica with over 300 bishops from all over Europe that was held here in 342 or 343 . The failure of the council is considered to be one of the causes of the division in the Christian church.

middle Ages

In 447 the Huns, led by Attila, sacked the city, soon followed by the Goths . At the time of Justinian I between 527 and 565 it was rebuilt (532 to 537 building of the Church of St. Sofija) and surrounded with strong walls and defensive towers. In the 6th century, numerous Slavic tribes conquered the city and largely destroyed it again. So the name Serdica was forgotten. In 809 the city was taken by the army of the Bulgarian Khan Krum and since then has belonged to the First Bulgarian Empire . "Sredez" (center), as the Slavs called them because of their central location on the Balkan Peninsula, developed into an important strategic and administrative center.

This was followed by more raids by the Pechenegs and crusaders , which again led to devastation. Under the Byzantine rule between 1018 and 1194 the city was called "Triadica". During the Second Bulgarian Empire it was fortified further and in the 14th century received its current name “Sofia” after the church “ Sweta Sofia”. This name is mentioned for the first time in the Vitosha deed of gift of the Bulgarian ruler Ivan Shishman from 1371, with which he transferred soil to the Dragalewzi monastery .

Ottoman time

Hagia Sophia Church (6th century), converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in the 14th century and abandoned after an earthquake in the 19th century. Today it is a church again

In 1385 Sofia was besieged and conquered by the Ottomans . After a period of sacking, the city was incorporated into the empire. As part of this, the churches of Sweta Sofia , St. Demetrius and St. George were converted into mosques. In the following 500 years of Ottoman rule, the ancient and medieval cityscape was expanded with numerous Ottoman buildings. From then on , the city ​​became the seat of the Rumelian Beylerbey , who administered all European territories of the Ottoman Empire. During the 15th to 17th centuries, Sofia was the largest import-export base in what is now Bulgaria for the caravan trade of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa . Above all, the metal, wool and leather processing companies flourished.

The Banya Bashi Mosque from 1576 is the last remaining functional mosque in Sofia
Main Synagogue of Sofia

Along with a significant increase in population, lively Ottoman construction activity began in Sofia in the 15th and 16th centuries. Mosque complexes ( Külliye ) with their teaching centers ( medrese ), public libraries and baths ( hammams ), caravanserais , schools, poor kitchens ( Imaret ) were also built outside of the old town and thus served as the core of new city quarters. For the end of the 16th century, 45 mosques, three public libraries, four mausoleums ( Türbe ), 12 caravanserais and hane as well as at least six palaces ( Saray ), several soup kitchens and numerous schools are mentioned in the sources . When it came to education, the Islamic population had access to primary schools ( mekteb ) and madrasas, while the non-Muslim communities used their own schools. Overall, the Ottoman administration invested in public infrastructure, education and the local economy. In 1506 the largest Besistan (market) in the Balkans was built with 44 handicraft businesses inside and 101 outside its walls. Numerous other workshops and markets were also set up.

All travelers from the 15th to 18th centuries report of a flourishing trading town. The ethnic and religious plurality is particularly emphasized. In addition to Orthodox Bulgarians, Greeks are mentioned as well as Jews, namely Romaniots as well as Sephardim and Ashkenazim . In addition, Monophysite Armenians from Poland, Plovdiv , the Caucasus and even Iran settled in Sofia. There was also a Georgian community, a Catholic from Ragusa, a Sinti and Roma community and a Muslim community, which formed the largest community from the early 16th century until it was severely decimated by pogroms and expulsions in the late 19th century .

Regarding the cityscape, the traveler Stephan Gerlach mentioned 12 churches in Sofia in the 16th century. The older Orthodox churches include Sweta Nedelja and St. Nicholas the Great. The smaller religious communities had three synagogues, the Armenian Church of the Blessed Virgin from the 17th century and a Catholic church from the 15th century. From 1875 a new Catholic church was built.

In 1557 an earthquake destroyed the city. Some of the buildings were then rebuilt under the Ottoman Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha, such as the Sweta Sofia church, which at that time was a mosque . In 1818 and 1858 further severe earthquakes followed, after which some of the public buildings were abandoned and no longer rebuilt.

Sofia as the capital

When the Russian general Josef Gurko (1828–1901) entered the city with his troops on January 4, 1878 during the Russo-Ottoman War and had himself celebrated as a liberator, it had 11,694 inhabitants, 2 schools, 7 churches, 30 mosques and Tekken , 10 caravanserais, 120 shops, 62 pubs, 19 bakeries, 3306 mostly one-story houses, narrow, crooked streets, was divided into 17 smaller quarters ( Mahalle ) and without lighting and water pipes. Manoliki Taschew became the first mayor .

Parliament building

The constituent assembly in Veliko Tarnovo of the Principality of Bulgaria created after the Peace of San Stefano declared Sofia on March 22, 1879 the capital of the revived Bulgarian state. Since then, the city has experienced a significant boom, and many industrial companies have settled there. After the liberation of Bulgaria , a period of lively building activity, intensively promoted by the government, began, which lasted until shortly before the outbreak of the Balkan wars of 1912/13. Almost the entire Ottoman legacy did not survive the upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Only a few buildings - such as the Banya Bashi Mosque - have been preserved in their function. Other buildings were converted into churches, such as the Bosnali Mehmed Pasha Mosque built by the Ottoman master architect Sinan , today's Sweti Sedmoschislenizi Church, or other public buildings such as the Great Mosque . The oriental cityscape changed according to the western model, above all through the newly erected public and representative buildings: the neo-classical building of the state printing house in 1882, the parliament in 1884, the military academy in 1892, the national theater in 1906, the tsar's palace and several ministries were built as well as squares and Parks created. Because of the shortage of skilled architects and civil engineers, many foreigners were active throughout the country. The first city map of Sofia was designed by the French S. Amadier in 1878, based on a land register drawn up by two Austrian architects (Adolf Kolar and Venceslav Roubal).

In the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885, the Serbian army moved up to 20 km from Sofia, which induced the Bulgarian Prince Alexander I to order the evacuation of the city on November 17th. However, after the Battle of Slivnitsa , the Bulgarian Army counterattacked and the threat to Sofia was averted.

Old city map of Sofia (1908)

After the Balkan Wars of 1912/13 and the First World War, refugee camps were set up in the city for expelled Bulgarians from Macedonia (→ Macedonian Bulgarians ), the former western regions and the Dobruja . This ushered in the second construction phase, which was characterized by the construction of residential houses for the displaced and immigrants. The places in Sofia where they settled bore - as was customary at the time - the name of their home region or city. Later districts of the Bulgarian capital such as the Dobruja district , the Zaribrod district (after the city of Zaribrod ), Gevgelija district (named after the Macedonian city of Gevgelija ) or the Goze Deltschew district (named after the revolutionary Goze Deltschew ) emerged from it and more.

On April 16, 1925, Bulgarian communists bombed the Sveta Nedelya cathedral with the aim of eliminating the country's political and military elite. The attack failed to achieve its political goal; it killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500.

In 1934, 31.5% of the population said they were born in Sofia, 53.2% outside Sofia and 15.3% outside Bulgaria. Over 80% of the refugees in Sofia came from Vardar and Aegean Macedonia . In 1939 the population of Sofia had grown to around 300,000.

During the Second World War , the city was exposed to heavy Allied bombing attacks because of Bulgaria's pro-fascist attitude . On September 5, 1944, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and occupied the entire country. With the help of the Soviet Army, Georgi Dimitrov proclaimed the People's Republic of Bulgaria in the city on September 15, 1946 . After the war, another period of brisk building activity began, during which the city was rebuilt according to the socialist model. Numerous public buildings and residential complexes were built. On November 10, 1989, the communist government in Sofia was overthrown and the country began to democratize .

During the construction work for a subway line of the "Metro Sofia" in early March 2010 numerous archaeological finds were discovered in the center of Sofia, between the presidential office and the seat of government, below Independence Square (in antiquity the area of ​​the agora ). Construction workers were able to secure the building of a medieval church including frescoes from the 12th or 13th century. Grave sites, human bones and other ancient buildings from the second century were also found.


Population development

Expansion of Sofia, NASA Landsat false color scene
Residential buildings

Ottoman tax registers ( Defter ) give quite precise information about the population development. In 1523/4 around 6,000, in 1544/5 around 8,000 and at the end of the 16th century over 9,000 inhabitants lived in the city. Christian travelers around 1640 already estimated the population at 71,600, of which 15,000 were Jews. According to western travelers, this population remained constant in the 18th century. The Salnames of 1872/3 have a population of about 35,000 people.

In 1878, the year of the liberation of Bulgaria, the population was 11,694, only to grow again to around 20,000 by 1887. In 1910 the population of the capital reached the limit of 100,000, making it a major city. In 1946 there were already half a million people living in the city, by 1975 that number had doubled to one million.

In the period from 1990 to 2001 the population fell, but has also stabilized due to numerous incorporations. In 1999, 45 percent of the rural population in the Sofia area was dependent on self-produced food. The movement from the countryside to the capital was therefore reversed. The ongoing economic crisis forced a new subsistence economy , often with the simplest tools such as sickle and plow, as only a few village communities had enough money to collectively buy a tractor.

In the following, the population numbers are listed according to the respective territorial status. Up to 2001 and for 2011 the results are census results and 2006 an estimate by the National Statistical Institute (NSI).

date Residents
December 31, 1887 20,856
December 31, 1892 30,928
December 31, 1900 46,593
December 31, 1905 82,621
December 31, 1910 102,812
December 31, 1920 154.025
December 31, 1926 213.002
December 31, 1934 287,095
date Residents
December 31, 1946 530.168
1st December 1956 725.838
December 1, 1965 894604
1st December 1975 1,066,299
4th December 1985 1,201,719
4th December 1992 1.190.126
March 1, 2001 1,091,772
December 31, 2006 1,154,010
date Residents
February 1, 2011 1,204,685
December 31, 2015 1,231,981
December 31, 2016 1,236,047

Ethnic composition

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Sofia's central Orthodox church

According to the 2001 census, 96.0 percent of the population are ethnic Bulgarians; 1.5 percent are Roma and 0.5 percent are Turks (→ Balkan Turks ). Armenians, Serbs, Greeks, Wallachians and the Muslim, Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks also live in Sofia. In general, the minorities take an active part in the social and political life of the capital. You will find a political voice in minority parties.


At the last census in 2001, the vast majority of the population (96.4 percent) described themselves as Christians , most of them belong to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (95.9 percent). Religious minorities in Sofia are the Muslims and a rapidly dwindling Jewish denomination of a few hundred people. These are mainly Sephardic Jews. For the Catholics, instead of the neo-baroque church from 1875, which was destroyed in 1944, the modern St. Joseph's Cathedral was built in 2002-2006 , co- cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv .

Religiousness and trust in the church are, however, much lower than in neighboring countries, which is often justified with the adjustment of the Bulgarian church to the former communist regime. In 1999, according to the European Values ​​Study, only 52 percent of the population described themselves as religious, and only 22 percent go to church at least once a month.


City government

Seat of government

The mayor is the executive body . The city administration is divided into different areas. The tasks of the individual departments are determined by the city council on the proposal of the mayor or the deputy mayor (seven in total).

The term of office of the mayor and city council is four years. Both bodies, the mayor and the city council, are responsible for problems in the local areas of education, health care, infrastructure, culture, public safety, social affairs, environmental protection, traffic safety and the economy. They also own and manage the city's property.

In November 2005 Boyko Borissow won a runoff election against Tatiana Doncheva ( Bulgarian Socialist Party ) with 68.2 percent of the votes cast. Since Borissov was elected Prime Minister of Bulgaria in July 2009, his predecessor Minko Gerdschikow headed the city administration as interim mayor. The local elections on November 15, 2009 were won with 67% of the vote by Jordanka Fandakova from the GERB party, supported by the conservative Blue Coalition and the nationalist Ataka .

Town twinning

View of Sofia

Sofia has partnerships with the following cities:

Culture and sights


Ivan Vazov National Theater
The mineralogical museum The earth and the people

Sofia is the largest center of cultural life in the country. There is the Academic National Theater " Ivan Vazov ", the Academic National Theater for Opera and Ballet, the Theater " Salsa i Smjach " (Tears and Laughter), the Theater Sofia , the studio stage of the theater school, the State Operetta Theater, the Satirical Theater, the headquarters Puppet theater and a philharmonic orchestra . A music center has been named after the Bulgarian opera singer Boris Christow , known for his interpretations of works by Modest Mussorgsky and Giuseppe Verdi , which has been awarded the European Heritage Seal by the Bulgarian state .


The National Archaeological Museum is located in the city center next to the Bulgarian State Bank in the former mosque Bujuk Jamija from 1494. The educational institution, which was founded in 1879, reflects in numerous exhibits the art and culture of the Stone Age , the Thracians , Greeks and Romans, some of which are thousands of years old . the Byzantines, the Slavs and the Bulgarians. A coin cabinet is attached.

The National Art Gallery is now housed in the building of the former Tsar's palace . It includes a rich collection of old and modern Bulgarian painting and sculpture; in addition, works by Flemish, Dutch, Italian, French, Russian and Hungarian masters. In the same building is the Ethnographic Museum with mainly Bulgarian folklore and old consumer goods, but also exhibits from Asia and Africa.

To the east of the park is the National Academic Theater , which was built in neoclassical style in 1906, and behind the Hotel Bulgarija with a concert hall, on the north side the Natural Science Museum, which has been in existence since 1889, with around one million exhibits on the geology , flora and fauna of the country, one of the richest museums of its kind in Southeastern Europe, as well as the Russian Church Sw. Nikolai , which takes up the style of the Moscow churches of the 17th century (gilded domes, rich wall paintings). The Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in 2011.

The National Historical Museum is housed in the southern suburb of Boyana in the former presidential palace of Todor Zhivkow . In the spacious rooms, exhibits from early history to the present are shown. The gold treasure of Panagjurischte and finds from the cemetery of Varna with gold jewelry, which is one of the oldest worked gold objects in Europe, are particularly famous .


The main telecommunications companies, television and radio stations, cable television companies, daily newspapers, magazines and web portals of the country are based in Sofia. The Bulgarian State Telegraph Agency (BTA) is also based in the capital.

Important TV channels are BNT Kanal 1 and TV Bulgaria (both state-owned) and bTV (private). For the Turkish minority, the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) broadcasts five minutes of news in Turkish every day at 5 p.m. The Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) broadcasts two channels, "Horizont" and "Christo Botew". Important daily newspapers in the capital are 24 Tschasa , Dnewen Trud , SEGA, Sofiiski Imoti and Sofia Dnes .

The Council for Electronic Media (REM), the supreme body for all Bulgarian media, has its seat in Sofia. It was founded on November 26, 2001 and replaced the National Council for Radio and Television . As an independent body, the Council has control over the length of advertising broadcast, oversees pluralism and independence and compliance with moral values ​​and issues licenses for radio and television stations.


Former building of the Communist Party of Bulgaria in the style of Socialist Classicism

In today's city center, the ancient “Serdica” housed the forum and seat of the praetor , on the ruins of which the “ Cathedral Sweta Nedelja ” was built around 1900 , with interesting iconostasis and wall paintings inside. To the south is the " Spiritual Academy or Seminary" with museum (icons, manuscripts, church history) and the courthouse, a classicist building from 1940, and further north is the Central Department Store (ZUM), on the north side of which is the Sofia Mineral Bath ( Central Mineral Bath Sofia ) with its eye-catching front made of decorative ceramic.

The central market hall in the evening

In front of it is the Ottoman Banya Bashi Mosque from 1576, an example of Ottoman architecture, on the other side the “ Central Market Hall ” with a clock tower and coat of arms of Sofia , built in 1911 in the Renaissance style, then the small one in the underpass in front of the central department store Church Sveta Petka Samardschijska from the 14th and 15th century with well-preserved wall paintings.

To the east is the central square of Sofia, with fragments of the east gate of the Roman Serdika, stone slabs of the old arterial road to Constantinople (Istanbul) from the 2nd century, remains of the fortress walls, and also vessels for storing grain.

In the inner courtyard of the "Sofia Hotel Balkan" hotel you will find the oldest building in Sofia, the " Sweti Georgi Rotunda ". This church dates from the 4th century and has remains of three layers of wall paintings from the 11th to 13th centuries. A thermal bath was probably originally located in its place.

Equestrian monument of Tsar Alexander II.

Also worth seeing is the “Monument to the Liberators” - the Russian Tsar Alexander II on horseback - based on a design by the Italian Arnoldo Zocchi, 1901 to 1907. The memorial bears the inscription: “The Liberator Tsar , from grateful Bulgaria.” Under his leadership the Russians victorious in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) against the Ottomans, displaced the Ottoman Empire almost completely from the Balkan Peninsula and created the basis for today's Bulgaria, whose territory was ruled by the Ottomans for 500 years.

The former hotel “Sofia”, now “InterContinental Sofia”, the buildings of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and - free-standing on the north side - the national assembly with the inscription: “Unity makes strength” are arranged in a semicircle around the Tsar's monument to then extends the "Alexander-Newski-Platz", which is completely dominated by the Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church , the symbol of the city.

The monumental building, built in the neo-Byzantine style from 1904 to 1912 according to a design by the Russian architect Alexander Pomeranzew in honor of the Russian liberators , covers an area of ​​more than 2500 m² and holds 5000 people. The interior decoration includes 270 wall paintings, 80 icons , artistic carvings, thrones and details made of different colored, foreign alabaster . The crypt houses a unique icon museum with excellent examples from the 12th century, including a collection of icons from Nesebar from the 16th and 17th centuries and the Poganovo icon .

The Boyana Church is located in the Bojana district (at the foot of Vitosha) . The architecture dates from the 9th to 11th centuries and is decorated with innumerable and partly immaculately preserved wall paintings from the different epochs (the oldest painting layer dates from the 11th to 12th centuries, the youngest from 1882). The church was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Highest buildings in the city are the 126-meter Capital Fort , the 108 meter high Vitosha Mountain TV Tower in the city area Kopitoto and the 106-meter high TV tower Sofia in its namesake park.


Statues in the park

Sofia has numerous green spaces, around 500 hectares of the city area are designed with parks and gardens. One of the most important parks in the capital is the Vitosha Natural Park , which also includes part of the mountain range of the same name. Borisova Gradina Park is the largest park in the city and is located in the center of Sofia. There you will find Lake Ariana , the Vasil Levski Stadium, the stadium of the Bulgarian Army, several tennis courts, a cycle track and the Maria Louisa outdoor pool. Also in Borispark are the Freedom Monument and numerous busts of well-known personalities from the country.

The South Park is the second largest park in the city. It stretches from the Ivan Vazov district to the Hladilnika district. There are many children's playgrounds and a swimming area where numerous public events take place. The city ​​park is close to the city gallery. In the middle of this park, opposite the National Theater, there is a fountain and a children's playground.

The zoological garden , which was founded in 1888 and is the largest and oldest on the Balkan Peninsula, is located on an area south of the center of Sofia . It was included in the list of 100 national tourist sites in Bulgaria. The Sofia Central Cemetery north of the main train station is made up of tall trees.


Vasil Levski National Stadium

The largest stadium in the country is the Vasil Levski National Stadium with a capacity of around 46,340 . This is where the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup take place, the national team plays its home games and the Bulgarian Football Cup finals are also played here.

Well-known football clubs from the capital are Levski Sofia (the venue is the Georgi Asparukhov Stadium with a capacity of 29,200 seats), Lokomotiv Sofia (plays in the 22,000-seat Lokomotiv Stadium ), Slavia Sofia (the venue is the 18,000-seat Ovtscha-Kupel Stadium ) and CSKA Sofia (plays in the Balgarska Armija Stadium with a capacity of 22,015 spectators).

CSKA Sofia is Bulgarian football record champion with 30 titles. Levski Sofia achieved 25 championship titles. Slavia Sofia won seven championship titles, and Lokomotiv Sofia won four championship titles.

The Velodrome Sofia , which can hold 5000 spectators, is located in the Borisova Gradina Park .

The Arena Armeec Sofia , which opened in 2011, is the largest indoor sports facility in Bulgaria with a capacity of 12,373 people.


Sofia has numerous restaurants that offer guests national and international dishes. The specialties include kebaptscheta , grilled rolls made from seasoned minced meat. They are usually served with french fries and a mixed salad. Tarator is a refreshing cold bowl made from finely chopped cucumbers, ground walnuts, dill and yogurt mixed with water and salad oil.

Is eaten like also shopska salad , a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, with grated feta cheese sprinkled (Bjalo Salamureno siren) and chopped parsley. Gjuwetsch is a mixed vegetable, usually made from peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, potatoes, green peas, green beans and parsley, which is baked in a clay pot with or without meat. Is also popular Baniza , a kind of unsweetened cheese strudel, who likes to Bosa is consumed.

Economy and Infrastructure


Lulin Silver Trade Center

With around 16 percent of the country's industrial production, Sofia is the most important industrial center in Bulgaria. In the second third of the 20th century the share was even 20 percent and in mechanical engineering 35 percent of the country's products. Companies in the electrical, food and beverage, chemical and textile industries , mechanical engineering as well as polygraphic products, wagon and locomotive construction formed the basis of the city's industry. The Bulgarian Stock Exchange is based in the capital.

After the fall of the Soviet Union's market , with which most of the trade relations existed, the capital's economy fell into a severe crisis, which was only gradually overcome at the beginning of the 21st century. Above all, after Bulgaria's accession to the EU on January 1, 2007, foreign investments took place, particularly in the areas of trade, the metal and electrical industry and services. In particular, a significant number of call centers and technical support companies have settled in Sofia. One of Hewlett-Packard's global service centers has been located in Sofia since 2006 and is responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition, seven large shopping centers have been built since 2008. A maintenance and repair center was opened by Lufthansa Technik at Sofia Airport in 2008 and expanded in 2014.

In a ranking of cities according to their quality of life, Sofia ranked 116th out of 231 cities worldwide in 2018.


Long-distance transport

international Airport

The city is the most important transport hub in Bulgaria with the international airport as well as rail and road connections to all parts of the country. Two important international highways run through Sofia , the European route 79 from Oradea in Romania to Thessaloníki in Greece and the European route 80 from Lisbon in Portugal to Doğubeyazıt in Turkey. The capital is the starting point for the A1 motorways to Burgas on the Black Sea coast, the A2 to Varna and the A5 to Pernik , which will continue on the A6 to the Bulgarian-Greek border crossing at Kulata-Promachonas . An expressway via Pernik and Kyustendil to the Bulgarian-Macedonian border and one to the Bulgarian-Serbian border crossing at Kalotina are being planned.

The Sofia Airport is located ten kilometers east of downtown on the ring the capital. It is the most important and largest airport in the country and the home base of the Bulgarian company Bulgaria Air . The Austrian company Strabag has been expanding the airport since April 2003 : A new handling hall (Terminal 2) and a new runway were built. Terminal 2 was opened on December 27, 2006, just in time for Bulgaria's accession to the EU. While low-cost airlines are now mainly handled in the “old” Terminal 1, most of the scheduled flights are handled via Terminal 2. The old runway has been partially renovated and is currently used as a taxiway. The capacity of the two terminals increased to five million passengers per year.

The city is the most important national railway junction with eight stations of the Bulgarian State Railways and with international connections to Turkey as well as to Romania , Serbia and North Macedonia . A rail connection to Thessaloniki in Greece has been offered again since 2014.

The central long-distance bus station is located between the main train station and the Princess Hotel in the city center. Almost all major Bulgarian cities are approached from here, mostly several times a day (for example Plovdiv , Varna , Russe , Burgas , Stara Sagora , Razgrad , Shumen ). International buses run daily from here to North Macedonia ( Ohrid , Strumica , Skopje ), to Serbia ( Niš ), to Turkey ( Istanbul ), to Greece ( Athens , Thessaloniki), to Austria ( Vienna ) and Germany ( Munich , Frankfurt ). From the directly adjacent, old, unofficial long-distance bus station, destinations all over Europe are served, including several buses to Germany every day.

Local transport

Metro station "Obelia"

On December 1, 1898, the city issued a concession to build an electrically powered tram . This began operation on January 1, 1901, on a 23-kilometer section with six lines. Today, 267 trams operate on a 195-kilometer network of 15 lines.

Trolleybuses first ran in the city between February 14, 1941 and September 9, 1944. Due to the effects of the Second World War, operations had to be temporarily suspended. On May 1, 1948, trolleybuses were used again. The 126 cars serve a 104-kilometer network with nine lines.

Furthermore operate in public transport 696 buses (PT) Sofia. There are also numerous marshrutka lines.

The first section of line 1 of the Sofia metro was opened on January 28, 1998, with the second section not being able to go into operation until May 8, 2009 after many complications in the construction phase. The first line (Line 1, Red Line) has 16 stations on the route Slivnitsa (Сливница) ↔ Business Park Sofia (Бизнес парк София). Originally line 1 was also 16 stations but operated between Obelja (Обеля) and Airport Terminal 2 (Летище София - Терминал 2). Line 2 (Blue Line) runs on the Vitosha (Витоша) ↔ Airport Terminal 2 (Летище София - Терминал 2) route. She crosses line 1 and herself at Serdika station. Originally, line 2 was supposed to run from Losenez to Ilijanzi via Serdika station. After planning changes and a construction period of around 3 years, it was opened on August 31, 2012 between the existing Obelja (Обеля) station via the Serdika (Сердика) transfer station to James Bourchier (Джеймс Баучер) station in the Losenez district. At the end of 2015, the subway network had 35 stations. The entire network is planned in secant form , for the final expansion of which another line is being planned. It is to lead from Knjaschewo to the satellite town of Poduene with a length of 15 kilometers and 15 stations, construction of this line began in 2016.


The National Palace of Culture ( Bulgarian Национален дворец на културата )

The city is the country's premier education and research center. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, St. Kliment Ohridski University Sofia , New Bulgarian University Sofia, Technical University Sofia and other specialized universities such as St. Ivan Rilski University of Mining and Geology Sofia are located here medical University of Sofia , the University of Chemical technology and metallurgy Sofia and the University of National and world economy , Sofia.

There are also over 15 universities in Sofia, such as the National Music Academy “Prof. Pantscho Wladigerow ” , the building college, the college of fine arts and the theater college as well as around 200 scientific institutes and over 900 libraries, including the most important of them the national library of Saints Cyril and Methodius .



Web links

Commons : Sofia  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Sofia  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Sofia  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Population by towns and sex. In: Republic of Bulgaria - National Statistical Institute (NSI), April 12, 2019, accessed May 5, 2019 .
  2. ^ Council of Sardica.Retrieved May 27, 2017
  3. Bulgaria's Nature - Some Records ( Memento from February 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  4. a b Flyer about Sofia, year of issue 1968
  5. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill. Leiden Vol. 9, pp. 703 f. (Article: Sofya)
  6. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill. Leiden Vol. 9, pp. 703 f. (Article: Sofya).
  7. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill. Leiden Vol. 9, pp. 703 f. (Article: Sofya)
  8. Catholic Cathedral. Retrieved December 12, 2017 .
  9. Сеизмичност на Софийската котловина (pdf) In: . ИЯИЯЕ . Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  10. Stojan Avdew: Разрушителните исторически земетресения в София (for example: The devastating historical earthquakes of Sofia), Sofia, Verlag Бесике, 2007, pp. 9-10. ISBN 978-954-91635-4-4 .
  11. Source City of Sofia ( Memento of the original from May 24, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill. Leiden Vol. 9, pp. 703 f. (Article: Sofya)
  13. Sofia - 127 years of the capital ( Memento of the original from November 5, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill. Leiden Vol. 9, p. 703 (Article: Sofya)
  16. ^ NSI: Tabular overview according to ethnic groups
  18. Jordanka Fandakowa is the first female mayor of Sofia (Bulgarian) on, November 15, 2009
  19. Bulgaria opens Museum of Contemporary Art , June 17, 2011
  20. ^ A b Meyers Neues Lexikon , 1964, Bibliographical Institute Leipzig, Volume 7
  21. Page no longer available , search in web archives: Province of Upper Austria: A journey through Europe - Bulgaria@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  22. HP : One of these global service centers opened in the Bulgarian capital Sofia earlier this year to support customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with remote access to infrastructure management
  23. Portrait: Lufthansa Technik Sofia - Lufthansa Technik AG. In: Retrieved September 14, 2016 .
  24. Mercer's 2018 Quality of Living Rankings. Retrieved August 18, 2018 .
  25. Sofia Airport
  27. Tram Sofia ( Memento of the original from December 15, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  28. Trolleymotion: Trolleybus cities in Bulgaria  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  29. ↑ Car transport EAD
  30. ^ Sofia Metro. In: Retrieved September 14, 2016 .
  31. Metropolitan Sofia