Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, located in the western part of country at the foot of the mountain Vitosha. Sofia is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country.
Sofia got its present name in the 14th century after the name of St.Sofia Church, which means wisdom in Greek. On 3rd April 1879 the town became a capital.
The history of Sofia dates to the 7th century BC. Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica, named after the Thracian tribe of Serdi. The Huns destroyed the city in 447, but the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I rebuilt it and renamed it Triaditsa. The Bulgarians captured Sofia for the first time in 809. Afterwards, it was known as Sredets, the name given to it by the Slavs. The Ottomans renamed Sofia in 1376 and conquered it in 1382, becoming the capital of the Turkish province of Rumelia for more than 4 centuries.
From the earliest times, Sofia’s main attraction has been its thermal springs, which are still in public use today, as a water source. Its strategic location on military and trade routes made it an important administrative centre in Roman times and one of the most urbanized cities.
During World War II, Bulgaria became part of the Allied Axis and Sofia was heavily bombed in British and American raids – with as result 3000 destroyed and 9000 damaged buildings. In 1944 the Soviet Army took the capital and Bulgaria became part of the Eastern Block. Communist Sofia underwent a period of rapid industrialization – new factories and high-rise apartment blocks grew up to form extended ugly suburbs. Neo-classical Stalinist architecture dominates the centre.
However, the side streets and century-old commercial quarter reveals the true magic of Sofia – a very European city of tree-lined boulevards and buildings with balconies by 19th century Russian and Viennese architects, standing among a cluster of ancient Orthodox churches.