Sofia is a modern European city with a population of around 1.5 million people. It is a busy place during the day with typical traffic jams and people in a hurry.


Sofia is a modern European city with a population of around 1.5 million people. It is a busy place during the day with typical traffic jams and people in a hurry. At the same time, especially if it is sunny, central areas, shops, cafés and restaurants are buzzing with life and the streets are never deserted. Here you can enjoy nightlife at high-class restaurants and cosy pubs, numerous bars and night clubs with live music. The city offers stages for world-famous musical performances and exhibitions, and has also won a reputation for a popular movie production destination.

Not long ago Sofia was known as the greenest European capital. Nowadays, even after the modern construction boom, its major green lungs have been preserved. Borisova Gradina near Sofia University and Orlov most (Eagles’ Bridge) is the central park which offers recreation, sports and entertainment both for adults and children. Here you can enjoy vast green areas with old trees, statues and fountains, Ariana lake with boats and pedalos altering into a skating rink in winter, tennis courts and swimming pools, cafés and restaurants, childrens playgrounds and Kokolandia extreme park. The other large green areas in Sofia are the Southern, Northern and Western parks. Vitosha Nature Park, some 20 minutes from city centre is another place for “green” adventures such as picnics, hang- and paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking and horse riding as well as winter sports.

History and culture lovers should definitely visit  Boyana Church in Boyana district, and Saint George Church in the centre of Sofia behind Sheraton Hotel.

Boyana Church, a UNESCO world heritage site, is considered one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of East European medieval art. Boyana Church consists of three parts built respectively in the late 10th century, at the beginning of 13th century and at the beginning of 19th century that live as a harmonious whole. Boyana Church is most famous for the frescoes painted in 1259 by the so called Boyana master and his team at the time of Sebastocrator Kaloyan - the main benefactor of Boyana Church. These frescoes are typical for Tarnovo Artistic School - the mainsteram of the Bulgarian fine arts in 13th-14th century. When visiting Boyana Church, you can also spend a few hours at the national history museum located nearby.

Saint George Church (the Rotunda) is the oldest entirely preserved building in Sofia. Built as a pagan temple in the 3rd century A.D., it was reconstructed into a baptystery at the time of Emperor Constantine the Great in the first half of 4th century. Later in the 6th century it was transformed into a church. Five layers of frescoes have been discovered in Saint George Church - from the 6th century, end of 9th - beginning of 10th century - from the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, end of 11th - beginning of 12th century - from the Byzantine period, end of 14th century - from the last days of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom; end of 16th century - when the church was transformed into a mosque.

Sveta Nedlya Squareis a good starting point for your walk around Sofia. Named after the cathedral there - a popular place for wedding ceremonies, it is a kind of a religious centre of the city. Banya Bashi Mosque, Theology Department of Sofia University and the Synagogue are located nearby. Banya Bashi Mosque, the only mosque in Sofia dates back from the middle of 16th century. It was built over the natural thermal spas in Sofia centre and its name means ‘many baths’. Sofia Synagogue, the second largest Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) synagogue in Europe, is over 100 years old and is one of the most beautiful monuments of culture in Sofia.

Three main shopping streets -Vitosha, Alabin and Pirotska are within reach from Sveta Nedelya Square. Vitosha is the main one and it leads to the National Palace of Culture, known by the locals as NDK (en-de-ka), which is the most popular event centre in Sofia. The area around NDK with nice cafes, beautiful fountains, musicians, skaters and an adjacent park is a wonderful place for meeting friends and staying in the open. Nearby is Hilton Hotel, Earth and Man National Museum and City Centre shopping and entertainment mall.

Heading east from Sveta Nedelya Square and following the yellow Viennese cobblestones, you can see a number of places of interest, including:

- the Presidency building

- the former Communist Party House with typical Stalinist architecture now used for parliamentary offices

- the medieval church of Saint Petka of the Saddlers - a monument of culture known for its frescoes from 14th, 15th, 17th and 19th century

- the Archeological Museum – the oldest museum in Bulgaria with most interesting collections of Thracian, Greek and Roman treasures

- the stylish building of the National Bank

- Ivan Vazov national theater - one of the most beautiful neo-baroque buildings in Sofia with a lively small park popular for its beautiful fountains, enthusiastic chess players, street musicians and kids playgrounds

- the former Royal Palace, now housing the National Art Gallery and the National Ethnographic Museum

- the National Museum of Natural History

- the Russian Church built in a Russian Revival style at the beginning of the 20th century

- the Central Military Club - a popular venue for concerts, exhibitions and official ceremonies

- the beautiful neoclassical buildings of the Italian and Austrian embassies and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

- Narodno Sabranie Square with the Parliament building facing Radisson Blu Grand Hotel and the famous Tsar Osvoboditel (Tsar Liberator) monument erected in honour of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule

- the magnificent golden domed Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - one of the largest East Orthodox cathedrals in the world and a main tourist attraction in Sofia; the remarkable Iconographic Museum in its crypt

- Hagia (Saint) Sophia Church - the second oldest church in the capital, dating back to the 6th century and the one after which Sofia city is named

- the impressive building of Sofia University and Saints Cyril and Methodius National Library which houses the largest national book collection and is Bulgaria's oldest cultural institute.


Sofia capital city is located at the foot of Vitosha and Lyulin mountains. The town was founded by the Serdi Thracian tribe in 8th - 7th century B.C. around the mineral spring which is in the center of the city. The Romans conquered the town in the 1st century and named it Serdica. By the 4th century, Serdica had become an important administrative centre of the Roman empire and one of the favourite places for emperor Constantine the Great. In 809, the Roman Serdica surrendered to the Bulgarian Khan Krum and was renamed to Sredets. The name Sofia was given after Saint Sophia Church in mid 14th century when Bulgarian fell under the Ottoman rule. After Bulgaria was liberated in 878, Sofia was proclaimed capital of Bulgaria on 3 April 1879.

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