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Sofia ( , ) is the capital and largest city of Bulgariamarker and the 12th largest city by population in the European Union, with 1.4 million people living in the Capital Municipality. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitoshamarker, and is the administrative, cultural, economic, and educational centre of the country.

One of the oldest cities in Europe, the history of Serdica-Sredets-Sofia can be traced back some 7000 years; prehistoric settlements were excavated in the centre of the present city, near the royal palacemarker, as well as in outer districts such as Slatina and Obelia. The well preserved town walls (especially their substructures) from antiquity date back before the 7th century BC, when Thracians established their city next to the most important and highly respected mineral spring, still functioning today. Sofia has had several names in the different periods of its existence, and remnants from the city's past can still be seen today alongside modern landmarks.

Names

Sofia was first mentioned in the sources as Serdica in relation to Marcus Licinius Crassus' campaigns in 29 BC. The name Serdica or Sardica (Σερδική, Σαρδική) was popular in Latin, Ancient Greek and Byzantine Greek sources from Antiquity and the Middle Ages; it was related to the local Celtic tribe of the Serdi. The name was last used in the 19th century in a Bulgarian text, Service and hagiography of Saint George the New of Sofia: ВЪ САРДАКІИ. Another of Sofia's names, Triaditsa (Τριάδιτζα), was mentioned in Greek medieval sources. The Bulgarian name Sredets (СРѢДЄЦЪ), an adaptation of Serdica, first appeared in the 11th-century Vision of Daniel and was widely used in the Middle Ages. The current name Sofia was first used in the 14th-century Vitosha Charter of Bulgarian tsar Ivan Shishman or in a Ragusan merchant's notes of 1376; it refers to the famous Hagia Sophia Churchmarker, an ancient church in the city named after the Christian concept of the Holy Wisdom. Although Sredets remained in use until the late 18th century, Sofia gradually overcame the Slavic name in popularity. During the Ottoman rule it was called Sofya by the Turkish population.

The city's name is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the 'o', in contrast with the tendency of foreigners to place the stress on 'i'. Interestingly, the female given name "Sofia" is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the 'i'.

Geography

Sofia's development as a significant settlement owes much to its central position in the Balkans. It is situated in western Bulgaria, at the northern foot of the Vitoshamarker mountain, in the Sofia Valleymarker that is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The valley is the largest one in the country with territory of and average altitude of . Three mountain passes lead to the city, which have been key roads since antiquity, connecting the Adriatic Seamarker and Central Europe with the Blackmarker and Aegean Seasmarker.

A number of low rivers cross the city, including the Vladaiskamarker and the Perlovskamarker. The Iskar River in its upper course flows near eastern Sofia. The city is known for its numerous mineral and thermal springs. Artificial and dam lakes were built in the last century.

It is located northwest of Plovdivmarker,
Bulgaria's second largest city,   west of Burgasmarker  west of Varnamarker, Bulgaria's major port-cities on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The city is situated at less than   from the borders with three countries:   from Kalotina on the Serbianmarker border,   from Gyueshevomarker on the frontier with the Republic of Macedoniamarker and   from the Greekmarker border at Kulatamarker.


Climate

Sofia has a humid continental climate (Koppen Cfb) with high temperature amplitudes. The hottest month is August while January is the coldest. Up to 1936 the average annual temperature was and since then it has risen by +0.5 °C (+1 °F). The city receives around annual precipitation with summer maximum and winter minimum. The temperatures in Sofia generally remain cooler than other parts of Bulgaria in summer, due to the high altitude of the valley in which it is situated. However temperatures can still reach up to 40 °C on occasions.

History

Antiquity



The ancient fortress of Serdica


Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica, or Sardica, possibly named after the Celtic tribe Serdi. For a short period during the 4th century BC, the city was ruled by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great.

Around BC 29, Serdica was conquered by the Romans. It became a municipium, or centre of an administrative region, during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98-117) and was renamed Ulpia Serdica.

It seems that the first written mention of Serdica was made by Ptolemy (around 100 AD).

Serdica (Sardica) expanded, as turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a civic basilica, an amphitheatre - the City Council (Boulé), a large Forum, a big Circus (Theatre), etc. were built. When Emperor Diocletian divided the province of Dacia into Dacia Ripensis (at the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of Dacia Mediterranea. The city subsequently expanded for a century and a half, it became a significant political and economical centre, moreso — it became one of the first roman cities where Christianity was recognized as an official religion (Еmperor Galerius). So it was only very natural that Constantine the Great called Serdica (Sardica) "My Rome". In 343 A.D. , the Council of Sardica was held in the city, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sofiamarker was later built. Serdica was of moderate size, but magnificent as an urban concept of planning and architecture, with abundant amusements and an active social life. It flourished during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, when it was surrounded with great fortress walls whose remnants can still be seen today.

The city was destroyed by the Huns in 447 but was rebuilt by Justinian and for a while called Triaditsa or Sredets by the slavonic tribes.

Middle Ages

Sofia first became part of the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Khan Krum in 809 after a long siege. Afterwards, it was known by the Bulgarian name Sredets and grew into an important fortress and administrative centre. After the fall of North-eastern Bulgaria under John I Tzimiskes' armies in 971, the Bulgarian Patriarch Damyan chose Sofia for his seat in the next year. After a number of unsuccessful sieges, the city fell to the Byzantine Empire in 1018, but once again was incorporated into the restored Bulgarian Empire at the time of Tsar Ivan Asen I.

From the 12th to the 14th century, Sofia was a thriving centre of trade and crafts. It is possible that it has been called by the common population Sofia (meaning "wisdom" in Ancient Greek) about 1376 after the Church of St. Sofiamarker. However, in different testimonies it was called both "Sofia" and "Sredets" until the end of the 19th century. In 1382 Sofia ( ) was seized by the Ottoman Empire in the course of the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars - after a long siege the city was captured with treason. The new name — Sofia, replaced the old one — Sredets, after the liberation of the city from Turkish rule in 1878. Quite some time after 1878 there was a strong will, expressed by Bulgarian committees, to keep the name Sredets, but the Russian administration accepted Sofia.

Ottoman rule

After the campaign of Władysław III of Poland in 1443 towards Sofia, the city's Christian elite was annihilated and became the capital of the Ottoman province (beylerbeylik) of Rumelia for more than 4 centuries, which encouraged many Turks to settle there. In the 16th century Sofia's urban layout and appearance began to exhibit a clear Ottoman style, with many mosques, fountains and hamams (bathhouses). During that time the town had a population of around 7,000 which rose to 55,000 by the mid 17th century.

The town was seized for several weeks by Bulgarian haiduks in 1599. In 1610 the Vatican established the See of Sofiamarker for Catholics of Rumelia, which existed until 1715 when most Catholics had emigrated. In the 16th century there were 126 Jewish households, and there has been a synagogue in Sofia since 967. She was the center of Sofya Eyalet (1826-1864).

Sofia, 1934


End of Ottoman Rule

Sofia was taken by Russian forces on January 4, 1878, during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78, and became the capital of the autonomous Principality of Bulgaria in 1879, which became the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1908. It was proposed as a capital by Marin Drinov and was accepted as such on 3 April 1879. By the time of its liberation the population of the city was 11,649. For a few decades after the liberation the city experienced large population growth mainly from other regions of the country.

In 1925 the St Nedelya Church assault was carried out by the Bulgarian Communist Party which claimed the lives of 170 people and injured another 500.

During World War II, Sofia was bombed by Allied aircraft in late 1943 and early 1944. As a consequence of the invasion of the Sovietmarker Red Army, Bulgaria's government, which was allied with Germany, was overthrown. Like Praguemarker, Warsawmarker, Bucharestmarker etc. Sofia became a capital of the Communist-ruled People's Republic. The population of Sofia expanded at high rates because of the collectivisation of agriculture and the related land dispossession of people in the province, and also because a large emphasis was placed on the industrial development of the city — many new large factories and manufacturing plants were built in and around it. The city expansion accelerated after 1958 when the collectivisation and the construction of the huge Kremikovtsi Steel Complex near Sofia were completed. That led to the creation of many new neighbourhoods and the expansion of the public transport network.

Administration

The city of Sofia is one of 28 Provinces of Bulgaria (not to be confused with Sofia Provincemarker, which surrounds but does not include the city). Besides the city of Sofia, the capital province encompasses three other cities and 34 villages, being split into a total of 24 municipalities. Each municipality has a head person who is elected in a popular election. The head of the county is its mayor. The assembly members are chosen every four years. The current mayor of Sofia is Yordanka Fandakova.

Municipalities of Sofia City:
The municipalities of Sofia
Rank Name Unemployment (2004, %) Population Type
1 Bankyamarker 10.4 9,186 Town
2 Vitoshamarker 3.5 42,953 Suburban
3 Vrabnitsamarker 4.6 47,417 Urban
4 Vazrazhdanemarker 5.3 47,794 Urban
5 Izgrevmarker 3.1 33,611 Urban
6 Ilindenmarker 4.5 37,256 Urban
7 Iskarmarker 3.9 69,896 Urban
8 Krasna polyanamarker 9.2 65,442 Urban
9 Krasno selomarker 3.7 72,302 Urban
10 Kremikovtsimarker 5.8 23,599 Suburban
11 Lozenetsmarker 3.3 45,630 Urban
12 Lyulinmarker 5.4 120,897 Urban
13 Mladostmarker 4.2 110,852 Urban
14 Nadezhdamarker 3.8 77,000 Urban
15 Novi Iskarmarker 4.5 26,544 Town
16 Ovcha kupelmarker 3.8 47,380 Urban
17 Oborishtemarker 2.8 36,000 Urban
18 Pancharevomarker 5.3 24,342 Suburban
19 Poduyanemarker 4.5 85,996 Urban
20 Serdikamarker 3.6 52,918 Urban
21 Slatinamarker 4.1 65,772 Urban
22 Studentski gradmarker 2.9 50,368 Urban
23 Sredetsmarker 4.0 41,000 Urban
24 Triaditsamarker 3.7 65,000 Urban
TOTAL 4.5 1,299,155
Sources:(Population )

Demographics

According to 1999 data, the whole Capital Municipality, with a population of 1,246,651, had a population density of 917.8.

The ratio of women per 1,000 men was 1,114 and the rate of population ageing was 100.3. The birth rate per 1000 people was 7.9 and steadily declining in the last 15 years, the death rate reaching 12.2 and growing. The population was declining by 4.3 percent. However, considerable immigration to the capital from poorer regions of the country, as well as urbanization, are the reasons Sofia's population is in practice increasing. 5.7 people of every one thousand were married (only heterosexual marriage is possible in Bulgaria) and the infant mortality rate was 11 dead babies per 1,000 born alive, down from 18.9 in 1980.

According to the 2001 census, Sofia's population is made up of 96% ethnic Bulgarians; among minority communities, nearly 18,000 (1.5%) officially identified themselves as Roma, 6,000 as Turkish, 3,000 as Russian, 1,700 as Armenian, and 1,200 as Greek.

The unemployment is lower than in other parts of the country — 2.45% of the active population in 1999 and declining, compared to 7.25% for the whole of Bulgaria as of July 1, 2007 (also on the decrease). The large share of unemployed people with higher education, 27% as compared to 7% for the whole country, is a characteristic feature of the capital.

Sofia was declared capital in 1879. One year later, in 1880, it was the fifth-largest city in the country after Plovdivmarker, Varnamarker, Rusemarker and Shumenmarker. Plovdiv remained the most populous Bulgarian town until 1892 when Sofia took the lead.

Culture

Music and nightlife

Sofia has an extensive nightlife scene with many night clubs, live venues, pubs, mehani (Bulgarian traditional taverns), and restaurants. The city has played host to many world-famous musical acts including Madonna, George Michael, Lenny Kravitz, Kiss, Kylie Minogue, Depeche Mode, Metallica and Rihanna

Museums

Sofia houses numerous museums, notably the National Historical Museummarker, the Bulgarian Natural History Museummarker, the Museum of Earth and Menmarker, the Ethnographic Museum, the National Museum of Military Historymarker, the National Polytechnical Museum and the National Archaeological Museummarker. In addition, there are the Sofia City Art Gallerymarker, the Bulgarian National Gallery of Artsmarker, the Bulgarian National Gallery for Foreign Artmarker as well as numerous private art galleries.

Places of special interest

The city also offers many places of special interest such as the Sts.marker Cyril and Methodius National Librarymarker (which houses the largest national book collection and is Bulgaria's oldest cultural institute), the Sofia State Librarymarker, the British Council, the Russian Cultural Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Hungarian Institute, the Czech and the Slovak Cultural Institutes, the Italian Cultural Institute, the French Cultural Institute, Goethe Institut, Instituto Cervantes, and the Open Society Institute. The city is also known for the Boyana Churchmarker, which is a UNESCOmarker world heritage site.In addition, Sofia houses the Sofia Zoological Gardenmarker, which was founded in 1888.

Several international film productions were made here. Vitosha Boulevardmarker, also called Vitoshka — ranked as the world's 22nd most expensive commercial street — represents numerous fashion boutiques and luxury goods stores and features exhibitions by world fashion designers. Sofia's geographic location, situated in the foothills of the weekend retreat Vitoshamarker mountain, further adds to the city's specific atmosphere.

File:Sofia TodorBozhinov 30 September (2).JPG|The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences buildingFile:Battenberg-square-NAG-sofia-alhague.jpg|The former royal palace at Battenberg Squaremarker, now the National Art GallerymarkerFile:NDK-front-view.jpg|National Palace of CulturemarkerFile:Gallery for Foreign Art TodorBozhinov 041009.jpg|The Neoclassical old Royal Printing Office built in 1882–1884 is today the National Gallery for Foreign ArtmarkerFile:Voennen club.jpg| Central Military ClubmarkerFile:Sofia buildings TodorBozhinov (34).JPG|SS.marker Cyril and Methodius National LibrarymarkerFile:Pond-Sofia-Zoo.jpg|A pond at the Sofia ZoomarkerFile:Narsob3.jpg|The LargomarkerFile:Sofia - Seminary - 2.jpg|Sofia SeminarymarkerFile:Hali-clock-ifb.JPG|Clock tower of Central Sofia Market HallmarkerFile:Tsar-liberator-imagesfrombulgaria.jpg|Monument to the Tsar LiberatormarkerFile:Sofia-centre-yellowcobbles.JPG|The centre of the city is well-known for being paved with yellow Viennesemarker cobblestones.File:Central street in Sofia, Bulgaria September 2005 2.jpg|Knyaz Aleksandar Dondukov BoulevardmarkerFile:Downtown panorama.jpg|Sofia downtown panoramaFile:Downtown panorama2.jpg|Another downtown panoramaFile:Cathedral and gallery of foreign arts.jpg|The Alexander Nevsky Cathedralmarker is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world.


Economy



Sofia is the major economic center of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in Bulgaria. Sofia is also the country's financial hub, home to the Bulgarian National Bank, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, the Financial Supervision Commission as well as the headquarters of all commercial banks operating in the country. Construction, trade and transport are other important sectors of the local economy. Increasingly, Sofia is becoming an outsourcing destination for multinational companies, among them IBM, Hewlett-Packard, SAP, Software AG and Sony.

Fuelled by Bulgaria's sustained economic growth, the real estate market in Sofia has skyrocketed in recent years. Apartment prices have more than tripled since 2003, with a growth rate of 30% in 2008. The construction industry has exploded with the emergence of new residential and office buildings, hotels, business parks, shopping malls and logistics space. Unemployment is rather low at about 2.5% compared to the Bulgarian average of 6.25% and to levels in other European countries.

Transport and infrastructure

With its developing infrastructure and strategic location, Sofia is an important centre for international railway and automobile routes. Three Trans-European Transport Corridors cross the city: 4, 8 and 10. All major types of transport (except water transport) are represented in the city. It is home to eight railway stations, the biggest of which is the Central Railway Station. Just next to it is the new Central Bus Stationmarker, the biggest and most modern of its kind in the country. A number of other Bus Stations allow interurban and international trips from different parts of the city. The Sofia Airportmarker with its new second terminal, finished in 2006,
handled some 2.7 million passengers in 2007.


An old-style tram


Public transport is well-developed with bus, tram (153,6 km network) and trolleybus (97 km network) lines running in all areas of the city.

The Sofia underground became operational from 1998 and is yet largely underdeveloped with one line and only 14 stations. Several new stations have been opened in 2009. Another, second line is being build with a targeted completion date in 2012.
The masterplan for the Sofia underground includes three lines with a total of 47 stations. In recent years the marshrutka, a private passenger van, began serving fixed routes and proved an efficient and popular means of transportation by being faster than public transport but cheaper than taxis. As of 2005 these vans numbered 368 and serviced 48 lines around the city and suburbs. There are some 6,000 licensed taxi cabs operating in the city and another 2,000 operating somewhat illegally.
Low fares in comparison with other European countries, make taxis affordable and popular among a big part of the city population.


Private automobile ownership has grown rapidly in the 1990s; more than 1,000,000 cars were registered in Sofia in the last five years. The Sofia municipality is known for minor and cosmetic repairs and most streets are in a poor condition. Consequently traffic and air pollution problems have become more severe and receive regular criticism in local media. The extension of the underground system is hoped to alleviate the city's immense traffic problems.

Sofia has a unique, very large combined heat and power plant. Virtually the entire city (900,000 households and 5,900 companies) is centrally heated, using residual heat from electricity generation (3,000 MW) and gas- and oil-fired heating furnaces; total heat capacity is 4,640 MW. The heat distribution piping network is 900 km long and comprises 14,000 substations and 10,000 heated buildings.

Architecture

Historical landmarks

Late 19th century houses
Building of the Holy Synod


A number of ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings have been preserved in the city and its outskirts. Most notably, the 10th century Boyana Churchmarker (one of the UNESCO World Heritage protected sites), the Church of St. Georgemarker, considered the oldest building in Sofia, and the early Byzantine Church of St Sophiamarker.

A medieval monument of significant interest is The Church of St. Petka located in the very centre of the city providing a sharp contrast to the surrounding three Socialist Classicism edifices of the former Party House, TZUMmarker, and Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan.

Post-liberation and Communism

After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878 and the establishment of an autonomous Bulgarian monarchy with its capital in Sofia, Knyaz Alexander Battenberg invited architects from Austria-Hungary to shape the new capital's architectural appearance.


Among the architects invited to work in Bulgaria were Friedrich Grünanger, Adolf Václav Kolář, Viktor Rumpelmayer and others, who designed the most important public buildings needed by the newly-reestablished Bulgarian government, as well as numerous houses for the country's elite. Later, many foreign-educated Bulgarian architects also contributed.



The architecture of Sofia's centre is thus a combination of Neo-Baroque, Neo-Rococo, Neo-Renaissance and Neoclassicism, with the Vienna Secessionmarker also later playing an important part, but it is mostly typically Central European.

Among the most important buildings constructed in Sofia in the period are the former royal palace, today housing the National Art Gallerymarker and the National Ethnographic Museum (1882); the Ivan Vazov National Theatremarker (1907); the former royal printing office, today the National Gallery for Foreign Artmarker; the National Assembly of Bulgaria (1886), the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1893), etc.

After the Second World War and the establishment of a Communist government in Bulgaria in 1944, the architectural line was substantially altered. Socialist Classicism public buildings emerged in the centre, but as the city grew outwards, the new neighbourhoods were dominated by many concrete tower blocks, prefabricated panel apartment buildings (panelki) and examples of Brutalist architecture.

After the abolishment of Communism in 1989, Sofia has witnessed the construction of whole business districts and neighbourhoods, as well as modern skryscraper-like glass-fronted office buildings, but also top-class residential neighbourhoods.

Education



There are 16 universities in Sofia. The Saint Clement of Ohrid University of Sofiamarker is often regarded as the most prestigious university of Bulgaria, being founded in 1888 and having an incoming class of 14,000 students each year. Other important universities include the National Academy of Artsmarker, the Technical University of Sofiamarker, the University for National and World Economicsmarker, Sofia Medical Universitymarker, the Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theatre and Film Artsmarker, the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesymarker, the University of Forestrymarker and New Bulgarian Universitymarker.

Furthermore, institutions of national significance, such as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the SS.marker Cyril and Methodius National Librarymarker are located in Sofia. The American College of Sofiamarker, founded in 1860 and often regarded as the oldest American academic institution outside the United States provides secondary education to some of Bulgaria's brightest students.

The St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia is the oldest higher education institution in Bulgariamarker, founded on 1 October 1888. The university's edifice was constructed between 1924 and 1934 with the financial support of the brothers Evlogi Georgiev and Hristo Georgiev.

Sports



Being the country's capital, Sofia is also the centre of Bulgaria's sporting activities, with a large number of sports clubs based in the city. These include most of Bulgaria's primary football teams, such as CSKA, Levski, Lokomotiv Sofia and Slavia, as well as formerly great clubs like Akademik, Spartak Sofia and Septemvri.
The capital's dominance in the sport is reflected in the fact that Sofia-based teams, including dissolved clubs like A.S. 23,
have been Bulgarian football champions on all but thirteen occasions since the national league was formed in 1923.


Although football is popular, sports such as basketball and volleyball have strong traditions. A notable basketball team in the capital is Lukoil Academic, who were twice European Champions Cup finalists.

While no major volleyball teams exist at club level (excluding multiple times champion and Volleyball Champions League participant Levski Sikonko), Bulgaria has always been among the world's top nations at the sport. The Bulgarian Volleyball Federation is the world's second-oldest, and it was an exhibition tournament organised by them in Sofia that in 1957 convinced the IOCmarker to include volleyball as an olympic sport.

Tennis is increasingly popular in Sofia. Currently there are some ten tennis court complexes within the city including the one founded by former WTA top-ten athlete Magdalena Maleeva.

While rugby is a minor sport in Bulgaria, and certainly not a spectator sport, there are several rugby clubs in Sofia for aficionados of the game.

Most other sports, especially individual sports such as boxing, wrestling, and archery can be practiced at the sports complex of the NSAmarker or at that of any of the sports clubs mentioned above. This is because, during the communist era, all sports clubs concentrated on all-round sporting development.

Sofia applied to host the Winter Olympic Games in 1992 and in 1994, coming 2nd and 3rd respectively. The city was also an applicant for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but was not selected as candidate. In addition, Sofia hosted Eurobasket 1957 and the 1961 and 1977 Summer Universiades, as well as the 1983 and 1989 winter editions.

Venues

The capital is home to a large number of sports venues, including the 43,000-seat Vasil Levski National Stadiummarker which hosts most major outdoor events in Bulgaria, Levski Sofia's Georgi Asparuhov Stadiummarker, CSKA Sofia's Balgarska Armiya Stadiummarker, Slavia Sofia's Ovcha Kupel Stadiummarker, and Lokomotiv Stadiummarker stadium, which has hosted many major music concerts in recent years.

An important sports facility is the 3,000-capacity Universiade Hall, where in turn many indoor events are held, including Akademik's European basketball games. There are two ice skating complexes — the Winter Palace of Sports (capacity 4,000) and the Slavia Winter Stadium (capacity 2,000), both containing two rinks each.

There is a velodrome with 5,000 seats in the city's central parkmarker. It is currently disused but undergoing renovation.

Recreation

Most football stadiums have tennis courts, astroturf pitches and other sports facilities joined to them, and there are other such facilities scattered throughout the city, mainly in the parks.

There are also various other all-round sports complexes in the city which belong to institutions other than the football clubs, such as those of the National Sports Academymarker, of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, or those of the capital's various universities.

There are more than fifteen swimming complexes in the city, most of them outdoor. Nearly all of these were constructed as competition venues and therefore have seating facilities for several hundred people.

There are two golf courses just to the east of Sofia — in Elin Pelin (St Sofia club) and in Ihtimanmarker (Air Sofia club), and a horseriding club (St George club).

The capital's main attraction is probably the ample opportunity provided to Sofianites for making use of the city's sprawling parklands, many of which are densely forested. There are four such major parks - Tsar Boris's Gardenmarker in the city centre, as well as the Southern, Western and Northern and several other smaller parks, most notable of which is the City Gardenmarker. The Vitosha Nature Parkmarker (the oldest national park in the Balkans), which includes a big part of the Vitosha mountainmarker to the south of Sofia, covers an area of almost 270 km² and lies entirely within the city limits. Many Sofianites take weekly hikes up the mountain, and most do so at least a couple of times a year. There are bungalows as well as several ski slopes on Vitosha, allowing locals to take full advantage of the countryside and of the mountains without having to leave the city.

Mass media

180
Some of the biggest and most popular telecommunications companies, TV and radio stations, cable television companies, newspapers, magazines, and web portals are based in Sofia. Some television companies and channels include Bulgarian National Television (featuring BNT Channel 1 and TV Bulgaria), bTV and Nova Television among others. Top-circulation newspapers include 24 chasa, Trud, Sega and others.

Notable people

See also: :Category:People from Sofia


People that were born in Sofia:



International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Sofia is twinned with:

City Country Date
Algiersmarker Algeriamarker -
Ankaramarker Turkeymarker 1992
Berlinmarker Germanymarker -
Bratislavamarker Slovakiamarker 2008
Brusselsmarker Belgiummarker -
Bucharestmarker Romaniamarker -
Budapestmarker Hungarymarker -
Bursamarker Turkeymarker 1998
Helsinkimarker Finlandmarker -
Kievmarker Ukrainemarker 1997
Londonmarker UKmarker -
Madridmarker Spainmarker -
Milanmarker Italymarker -
Parismarker Francemarker 1998
Pittsburghmarker USAmarker -
Praguemarker Czech Republicmarker -
Saint Petersburgmarker Russiamarker -
Skopjemarker Macedoniamarker 2006
Tel Avivmarker Israelmarker 1992
Tiranamarker Albaniamarker. 2008
Warsawmarker Polandmarker -


Honour

Serdica Peak on Livingston Islandmarker in the South Shetland Islandsmarker, Antarcticamarker is named after Serdica.

See also



References

Further reading



External links




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