Sofia - the capital of Bulgaria
Recent Article about Sofia from the New York Times (April 2006)
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is
the largest city with a population of 1.3 million and a dominant position in
the country's economic, political, and cultural life.
Founded seven thousand years ago,
Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe. It has been given several names in
the course of history and the remnants of the old cities can still be seen today.
It was built on a strategic location on the main road from West Europe to Constantinople,
in a fruitful field surrounded from all sides by mountains and rich with mineral
spas which have been famous since the Antiquity for the healing properties of
their waters. In the middle of the first millennium BC the town was a capital
of a Tracian tribe called "Serdi" and had the name "Serdica".
The Basilica "St. Sophia"
The basilica (the red brick building) bas built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian
(527-565). Later it gave the name of the city (1329).
On the picture you can also see the
Cathedral "Alexander Nevsky" with the golden cupolas, and part of the University
on the right of the Cathedral and the National Art Gallery on the left.
The Cathedral "Alexander Nevsky"
The Cathedral "Alexander Nevsky" can be seen in the background of nearly all pictures
from the centre of Sofia; with its golden cupolas it dominates the horizon of
Sofia. However, it is about 1500 years younger than "St. Sophia". It was completed
between 1904 - 1914 as a monument of the gratitude of the Bulgarian people to
the Russians who deliberated the country from 500 years long Turkish yoke in 1878.
In Sofia, as everywhere in the country, there are a lot of monuments of the fallen
Russian soldiers and Russian churches which were built in the beginning of the
20-th century as a sign of deep national gratitude.
The Russian Church and the Monument
of the Russian Car Alexander II
The Russian Church (on the left picture) is one of these monuments. On the night
picture is shown the monument of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, the deliberator
of Bulgaria. You can also see the Building of the Bulgarian National Parliament
on the left, and the building of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences on the right
of the monument.
The Sofia University "Climent Ochridsky"
The St. Climent Ohridski University
of Sofia is the oldest university in Bulgaria, having been granted its charter
in 1909, and is the largest and most advanced educational and research centre
in the country. Students can select among fifty programs in the Humanities and
Sciences, Social Sciences, and Business Administration. More than 20,000 students
were enrolled in the sixteen faculties of the university during the 1992/1993
The main building of the University,
which is architecturally one of the most remarkable buildings in Sofia, was
designed by the French architect Breanson.
The University Library plays an
important part in the history of the St. Climent Ohridski University of Sofia.
The Library stock of books exceeds 1.5 mln. volumes.
Among the other higher educational
institutions of Sofia are: The Technical University of Sofia, The University
of National and World Economics, The Higher Institute of Architecture and Civil
Engineering, The Medical Academy, The Academy of Fine Arts, The Higher School
of Drama and many more. Courtesy to the Bulgarian-American Fulbright
The National Palace of Culture
and Vitosha Mountain
The National Palace of Culture was
built in the late 70's on a place with a remarkable view to the mountain Vitosha
and is by no means uglier than any other building of the 70's-style anywhere
else. Vitosha, with its highest peak Cherni Vryh (2290 m) can be seen from every
point of the town as a mighty arm embracing the city. The mountain is only 8
km away from the centre of Sofia, and offers excellent conditions for skiing
in the winter. Two parks come down from Vitosha spreading like green fingers
in the city. Sofia is rich of parks and green. One can always take a 5 minutes
bypass in his busy day to find peace, listen to the birds, or sit for a while
on a bench in a sunny alley where mothers bring their babies for a walk or elderly
people comment the "world politics"...
The Monastery of Dragalevtsy and
the Boyana Church
About 7 km away form the centre of
Sofia, in the foots of Vitosha are a chain of villages. Dragalevtsy is worth
seeing for its monastery from 1488 (on the left picture). Boyana is famous for
its church. Its frescos (on the right picture) date back from 1259 and show
humanity and liveliness unknown in the art of that time.
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