Sofia (/ˈsoʊfiə, ˈsɒf-, soʊˈfiːə/ SOH-fee-ə, SOF-;[12][13] Bulgarian: Со́фия, translit. Sofiya,[14][15] IPA: [ˈsɔfijə] (listen)) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea.[16][17]

Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC.[3] The recorded history of Sofia begins with the attestation of the conquest of Serdica by the Roman Republic in 29 BC from the Celtic tribe Serdi, raided by Huns in 343-347 AD and 447 AD, conquered by Visigoths in 376-382 AD, conquered by Avars and Slavs in 617 AD, and on 9th April, 809 Serdica was surrendered to Krum of Bulgaria.[18] In 1018, the Byzantines ended Bulgarian rule, while in 1040 it was shortly restored. The town was conquered by the Pechenegs in 1048 and 1078, by the Magyars and Serbs in 1183, and by the Crusaders in 1095 and 1190.[19] The rule of the Second Bulgarian Empire lasted from 1194 until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1382.[18]. From 1520 to 1836, Sofia was the regional capital of Rumelia Eyalet, the Ottoman Empire's key province in Europe. Bulgarian rule was restored in 1878. During World War II Sofia was bombarded by the UK and US Air Forces and at the end of the war, it was seized by the Soviet Army.

Being Bulgaria's primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies.[20] Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies, according to Bulgarian National Television.[21] Sofia was Europe's most affordable capital to visit in 2013.[22]

The population of Sofia declined down from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878 and began increasing.[18] Sofia hosts some 1.23 million[2] residents within a territory of 492 km2,[23] a concentration of 17.5% of the country population within the 200th percentile of the country territory. The urban area of Sofia hosts some 1.54 million[9] residents within 5723 km², which comprises Sofia City Province and parts of Sofia Province (Dragoman, Slivnitsa, Kostinbrod, Bozhurishte, Svoge, Elin Pelin, Gorna Malina, Ihtiman, Kostenets) and Pernik Province (Pernik, Radomir), representing 5.16% of the country territory.[10] The metropolitan area of Sofia is based upon one hour of car travel time, stretches internationally and includes Dimitrovgrad in Serbia.[24] Unlike most European metropolitan areas, it is not to be defined as a substantially functional metropolitan area, but is of the type with "limited variety of functions".[25] The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.68 million[8] and is made up of the whole provinces Sofia City, Sofia and Pernik, comprising more than 10,000 km².[26]


Skyline of Sofia
Grows, but does not age[1]
(Расте, но не старее)
Sofia is located in Bulgaria
Location of Sofia
Coordinates: 42°42′N 23°20′E / 42.70°N 23.33°ECoordinates: 42°42′N 23°20′E / 42.70°N 23.33°E
ProvinceSofia City
Cont. inhabitedsince 7000 BC[3]
Neolithic settlement5500–6000 BC[4]
Thracian settlement1400 BC[5][6]
Roman administration46 AD (as Serdica)[7]
Conquered by Krum809 AD (as Sredets)[7]
 • MayorYordanka Fandakova (GERB)
 • City492 km2 (190 sq mi)
 • Urban5,723 km2 (2,210 sq mi)
 • Metro10,532 km2 (4,066 sq mi)
500–2,290 m (1,640–7,510 ft)
 • CityIncrease 1,241,675[2]
 • Density2,517/km2 (6,520/sq mi)
 • Urban
Increase 1,549,659 [9]
 • Urban density271/km2 (700/sq mi)
 • Metro
Decrease 1,681,592 [8]
 • Metro density160/km2 (400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Area code(s)(+359) 02
Car platesC, CA, CB


Sredets seal 1878
The first seal of the city from 1878 which calls it Sredets

For the longest time the city possessed[27] a Thracian name, derived from the tribe Serdi, who were either of Thracian,[14][16] Celtic,[28] or mixed Thracian-Celtic origin.[29][30]

The emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus (53 – 117 AD) gave the city the combinative name of Ulpia Serdica;[31][32] Ulpia may be derived from an Umbrian cognate of the Latin word lupus, meaning "wolf"[33] or from the Latin vulpes (fox). It seems that the first written mention of Serdica was made during his reign and the last mention was in the 19th century in a Bulgarian text (Сардакіи, Sardaki).

Other names given to Sofia, such as Serdonpolis (Σερδών πόλις, "City of the Serdi" in Greek) and Triaditza (Τριάδιτζα, "Trinity" in Greek), were mentioned by Byzantine Greek sources or coins. The Slavic name Sredets (Срѣдецъ), which is related to "middle" (среда, "sreda") and to the city's earliest name, first appeared on paper in an 11th-century text. The city was called Atralisa by the Arab traveller Idrisi and Strelisa, Stralitsa or Stralitsion by the Crusaders.[34]

The name Sofia comes from the Saint Sofia Church,[35] as opposed to the prevailing Slavic origin of Bulgarian cities and towns. The origin is in the Greek word sophia (σοφία) "wisdom", which may derive from the Egyptian word sbÅ (𓋴𓃀𓇼𓀜) "teach, learn or wise" provided b oftentimes turns into ph in Egyptian to Greek translations. [36][37][38][39] The earliest works where this latest name is registered are the duplicate of the Gospel of Serdica, in a dialogue between two salesmen from Dubrovnik around 1359, in the 14th-century Vitosha Charter of Bulgarian tsar Ivan Shishman and in a Ragusan merchant's notes of 1376.[40] In these documents the city is called Sofia, but at the same time the region and the city's inhabitants are still called Sredecheski (срѣдечьскои, "of Sredets"), which continued until the 20th century. The city became somehow popular to the Ottomans by the name Sofya (صوفيه). In 1879 there was a dispute about what the name of the new Bulgarian capital should be, when the citizens created a committee of famous people, insisting for the Slavic name. Gradually, a compromise arose, officialisation of Sofia for the nationwide institutions, while legitimating the title Sredets for the administrative and church institutions, before the latter was abandoned through the years.[41]

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'. The female given name "Sofia" is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the 'i'.


The skyline of Sofia with Vitosha Mountain in the background, in the 1860s
The skyline of Sofia with Vitosha Mountain in the background, in the 1860s

Sofia City Province has an area of 1344 km2.[42] 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 Vitosha mountain, in the Sofia Valley that is surrounded by the Balkan mountains to the north. The valley has an average altitude of 550 metres (1,800 ft). Unlike most European capitals, Sofia does not have any large rivers or bridges, but is surrounded by comparatively high mountains on all sides. Three mountain passes lead to the city, which have been key roads since antiquity, Vitosha being the watershed between Black and Aegean Seas. A number of low rivers cross the city, including the Vladayska and the Perlovska. The Iskar River in its upper course flows near eastern Sofia. The city is known for its 49 mineral and thermal springs. Artificial and dam lakes were built in the twentieth century. While the 1818 and 1858 earthquakes were intense and destructive, the 2012 Pernik earthquake occurred west of Sofia with a moment magnitude of 5.6 and a much lower Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong). The 2014 Aegean Sea earthquake was also noticed in the city.

Air pollution is a problem in Sofia due to its location in the Sofia valley, which is surrounded by mountains that reduce the ability of the air to self-clean. The air is polluted mostly by particulate matters and nitrogen oxides.[43] Sofia has the most polluted air of any capital in the EU.[44]


Sofia has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with an average annual temperature of 10.4 °C (50.7 °F).

Winters are relatively cold and snowy. In the coldest days temperatures can drop below −15 °C (5 °F), most notably in January. The lowest recorded temperature is −28.3 °C (−19 °F) (24 January 1942).[45] Fog is not unusual, especially in the beginning of the season. On average, Sofia receives a total snowfall of 96 cm (37.8 in) and 58 days with snow cover.[46][47] The snowiest recorded winter was 1995/1996 with a total snowfall of 171 cm (67.3 in).[48] The record snow depth is 57 cm (22.4 in) (25 December 2001).[49]

Summers are quite warm and sunny. In summer, the city generally remains slightly cooler than other parts of Bulgaria, due to its higher altitude. However, the city is also subjected to heat waves with high temperatures reaching or exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) in the hottest days, particularly in July and August. The highest recorded temperature is 41 °C (106 °F) (5 July 2000 and 24 July 2007).[50][51] The hottest recorded summer was in 2012 with a daily average July temperature of 25 °C (77.0 °F).[52]

Springs and autumns in Sofia are usually short with variable and dynamic weather.

The city receives an average precipitation of 581.8 mm (22.91 in) a year, reaching its peak in late spring and early summer when thunderstorms are common. The wettest recorded year was 2014 with a total precipitation of 1,066.6 mm (41.99 in).[53]

Climate table:


Solid fuel used for heating and motor vehicle traffic are significant air pollutants. Smog thus persists over the city as temperature inversions and the mountains surrounding the city prevent the circulation of air masses.[65][66] As a result, air pollution levels in Sofia are some of the highest in Europe.[67] Particulate matter concentrations are consistently above the norm.[66] During the October 2017–March 2018 heating season, particulate levels exceeded the norm on 70 occasions;[65] on 7 January 2018, PM10 levels reached 632 µg/m3,[68] more than ten times the EU norm of 50 µg/m3.[69] Even areas with few sources of air pollution, like Gorna Banya, had PM2.5 and PM10 levels above safe thresholds.[68] In response to hazardous spikes in air pollution, the Municipal Council implemented a variety of measures in January 2018, like more frequent washing of streets.[70] However, a report by the European Court of Auditors issued in September 2018 revealed that Sofia has not drafted any projects to reduce air pollution from heating, a major source of particulates. The report also noted that no industrial pollution monitoring stations operate in Sofia, even though industrial facilities are active in the city. A monitoring station on Eagles' Bridge, where some of the highest particulate matter values were measured, was moved away from the location and has measured sharply lower values since then.[71] Particulates are largely measured by a network of 300 sensors maintained by volunteers since 2017.[65] The European Commission has taken Bulgaria to court over its failure to curb air pollution.[66]


Prehistory and antiquity

Bronze coin of Serdi Celts
O: head of river-god Strymon R: trident
This coin imitates Macedonian issue from 187–168 BC. It was struck by Serdi tribe as their own currency.
Remains of Serdica fortress walls in the basement of central market hall Sofia 20090406 002
A restored city plan of Roman Serdica under Marcus Aurelius (161–180)

Sofia has been an area of continuous human habitation since at least the 30th millennium BC.[3][72] The city itself has a history of nearly 7000 years,[73] with the great attraction of the hot water springs that still flow abundantly in the centre of the city. The neolithic village in Slatina dating to the 5th–6th millennium BC is documented. Remains from another neolithic settlement around the National Art Gallery are traced to the 3rd–4th millennium BC, which has been the traditional centre of the city ever since.[74]

The earliest tribes who settled were the Thracian Tilataei. In the 500s BC, the area became part of a Thracian state union, the Odrysian kingdom from another Thracian tribe the Odrysses. For a short period Thracian rule was possibly interrupted by the Achaemenid Empire.

In 339 BC Philip II of Macedon destroyed and ravaged the town for the first time.[72]

The Celtic tribe Serdi gave their name to the city.[75] The earliest mention of the city comes from an Athenian inscription from the 1st century BC, attesting Astiu ton Serdon, i.e. city of the Serdi.[76] The inscription and Dio Cassius told that the Roman general Crassus subdued the Serdi and behanded the captives.[77]

In 27-29 BC, according do Dio Cassius, Pliny and Ptolemy, the region "Segetike" was attacked by Crassus, which is assumed to be Serdica, or the city of the Serdi.[78][79][80] The ancient city is located between TZUM, Sheraton Hotel and the Presidency.[74][81] It gradually became the most important Roman city of the region.[31][32] It became a municipium during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98–117). Serdica expanded, as turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a civic basilica, an amphitheatre, a circus, the City Council (Boulé), a large forum, a big circus (theatre), etc. were built. Serdica was a significant city on the Roman road Via Militaris, connecting Singidunum and Byzantium. In the 3rd century, it became the capital of Dacia Aureliana,[82] and when Emperor Diocletian divided the province of Dacia Aureliana into Dacia Ripensis (at the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of the latter. Serdica's citizens of Thracian descent were referred to as Illyrians[72] probably because it was at some time the capital of Eastern Illyria (Second Illyria).[83]

Roman emperors Aurelian (215–275)[84] and Galerius (260–311)[85] were born in Serdica.

The city expanded and became a significant political and economical centre, more so as it became one of the first Roman cities where Christianity was recognised as an official religion (under Galerius). The Edict of Toleration by Galerius was issued in 311 in Serdica by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity. The Edict implicitly granted Christianity the status of "religio licita", a worship recognised and accepted by the Roman Empire. It was the first edict legalising Christianity, preceding the Edict of Milan by two years.

For Constantine the Great it was 'Sardica mea Roma est' (Serdica is my Rome). He considered making Serdica the capital of the Byzantine Empire instead of Constantinople.[86] which was already not dissimilar to a tetrarchic capital of the Roman Empire.[87] In 343 AD, the Council of Sardica was held in the city, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sophia was later built.

The city was destroyed in the 447 invasion of the Huns and the city laid in ruins for a century[72] It was rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. During the reign of Justinian it flourished, being surrounded with great fortress walls whose remnants can still be seen today.

Festung Serdica Sofia 20090405 006
The eastern gate of Serdica in the "Complex Ancient Serdica"


Many remains of the ancient city have been excavated and are on public display today. These include:

Middle Ages

The city first became part of the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Khan Krum in 809, after a long siege.[88] Afterwаrds, it grew into an important fortress and administrative centre when Khan Omurtag made it a centre of Sredets province (Sredetski komitat, Средецки комитат). After the conquest of the Bulgarian capital Preslav by Sviatoslav I of Kiev and John I Tzimiskes' armies in 970–971, the Bulgarian Patriarch Damyan chose Sofia for his seat in the next year and the capital of Bulgaria was first moved to Sredets.[89] In the second half of 10th century the city was ruled by Komit Nikola and his sons, popular as "Komitopuli". One of them is Samuil, who became an Emperor of Bulgaria in 997. 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.

Early modern history

In 1385,[90] Sofia was seized by the Ottoman Empire in the course of the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars. Around 1393 it became the seat of newly established Sanjak of Sofia.[91]

The city was occupied by Hungarian forces for a short time in 1443. After the failed crusade of Władysław III of Poland in 1443 towards Sofia, the city's Christian faced persecution and the city became the capital of the Ottoman province (beylerbeylik) of Rumelia for more than four centuries. During that time Sofia was the largest import-export-base in modern-day Bulgaria for the caravan trade with the Republic of Ragusa. In the 15th and 16th century, Sofia was expanded by Ottoman building activity. Public investments in infrastructure, education and local economy brought greater diversity to the city. Amongst others, the population consisted of Muslims, Bulgarian and Greek speaking Orthodox Christians, Armenians, Georgians, Catholic Ragusans, Jews (Romaniote, Ashkenazi and Sephardi), and Romani people.[90]

Photograph of Sofia, Bulgaria, c 1881
Sofia in 1881

When it comes to the cityscape, 16th century sources mention eight Friday Mosques, three public libraries, numerous schools, 12 churches, three synagogues, and the largest bedesten (market) of the Balkans.[90] Additionally, there were fountains and hammams (bathhouses). Some prominent churches such as Saint Sofia had been converted into mosques. In total there were 11 big and over 100 small mosques by the 17th century,[92] of which only the Banya Bashi remains as a mosque today.

The town was seized for several weeks by Bulgarian hajduks in 1599. In 1610 the Vatican established the See of Sofia for Catholics of Rumelia, which existed until 1715 when most Catholics had emigrated.[93] The town was the centre of Sofia Eyalet (1826–1864). Nedelya Petkova created the first Bulgarian school for women in the city. In 1873 the Ottomans hanged in Sofia the Bulgarian revolutionary Vasil Levski.

Modern and contemporary history

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Suleiman Pasha threatened to burn the city in defence, but the foreign diplomats Leandre Legay, Vito Positano, Rabbi Gabriel Almosnino and Josef Valdhart refused to leave the city thus saving it. Many Bulgarian residents of Sofia armed themselves and sided with the Russian forces.[94] Sofia was relieved (see Battle of Sofia) from Ottoman rule by Russian forces under Gen. Iosif Gurko on 4 January 1878. 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.[95]

Most mosques in Sofia were destroyed in that war, seven of them destroyed in one night in December 1878 when a thunderstorm masked the noise of the explosions arranged by Russian military engineers.[96][97] Following the war, the great majority of the Muslim population left Sofia.[90]

For a few decades after the liberation, Sofia experienced large population growth, mainly by migration from other regions of the Principality (Kingdom since 1908) of Bulgaria, and from the still Ottoman Macedonia and Thrace.

In 1900 the first electric lightbulb in the city was turned on.[98]

In the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria was fighting alone practically all of its neighbouring countries. When the Romanian Army entered Vrazhdebna in 1913, then a village seven miles (11 kilometres) from Sofia, now a suburb,[99] this prompted the Tsardom of Bulgaria to capitulate.

In 1925 a terrorist act of ultra-leftists failed their attempted assassination of the king but resulted in the destruction of the Saint Nedelya Church and many victims.

During the Second World War, Bulgaria declared war on the US and UK on 13 December 1941 and in late 1943 and early 1944 the US and UK Air forces conducted bombings over Sofia. As a consequence of the bombings around 2000 people were killed and thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged including the Capital Library and thousands of books. In 1944 Sofia and the rest of Bulgaria was occupied by the Soviet Red Army and within days of the Soviet invasion Bulgaria declared war on Nazi Germany.

In 1945 the communist Fatherland Front took power and executed several thousand people. The transformations of Bulgaria into the People's Republic of Bulgaria in 1946 and into the Republic of Bulgaria in 1990 marked significant changes in the city's appearance. The population of Sofia expanded rapidly due to migration from rural regions. New residential areas were built in the outskirts of the city, like Druzhba, Mladost and Lyulin.

During the Communist Party rule a number of the city's most emblematic streets and squares were renamed for ideological reasons, with the original names restored after 1989.[100]

The Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum, where Dimitrov's body had been preserved in a similar way to the Lenin mausoleum, was demolished in 1999.


Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevsky (23997168458)
A view over central Sofia, with the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the foreground and Vitosha in the distance.

In Sofia there are 607,473 dwellings and 101,696 buildings. According to modern records 39,551 dwellings were constructed until 1949, 119,943 between 1950 and 1969, 287,191 between 1970 and 1989, 57,916 in the 90s and 102,623 between 2000 and 2011. Until 1949, 13,114 buildings were constructed and between 10,000–20,000 in each following decade.[101] Sofia's architecture combines a wide range of architectural styles, some of which are aesthetically incompatible. These vary from Christian Roman architecture and medieval Bulgar fortresses to Neoclassicism and prefabricated Socialist-era apartment blocks. A number of ancient Roman, Byzantine and medieval Bulgarian buildings are preserved in the centre of the city. These include the 4th century Rotunda of St. George, the walls of the Serdica fortress and the partially preserved Amphitheatre of Serdica.

After the Liberation War, knyaz Alexander Battenberg invited architects from Austria–Hungary to shape the new capital's architectural appearance.[102]

Among the architects invited to work in Bulgaria were Friedrich Grünanger, Adolf Václav Kolář, and Viktor Rumpelmayer, who designed the most important public buildings needed by the newly re-established Bulgarian government, as well as numerous houses for the country's elite.[102] 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 Secession also later playing an important part, but it is most typically Central European.

After World War II and the establishment of a Communist government in Bulgaria in 1944, the architectural style was substantially altered. Stalinist Gothic public buildings emerged in the centre, notably the spacious government complex around The Largo, Vasil Levski Stadium, the Cyril and Methodius National Library and others. As the city grew outwards, the then-new neighbourhoods were dominated by many concrete tower blocks, prefabricated panel apartment buildings and examples of Brutalist architecture.

After the abolition of Communism in 1989, Sofia 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. The 126-metre (413 ft) Capital Fort Business Center will be the first skyscraper in Bulgaria, with 36 floors. However, the end of the old administration and centrally planned system also paved the way for chaotic and unrestrained construction, which continues today.

Rotunda Sveti Georgi, Sofia

The 4th century St. George Rotunda (the oldest building) behind some remains of Serdica


Socialist-era housing in Mladost


Interior of the ancient Saint Sofia Church

Szófia - 2014.10.26 (5)

Kvadrat 500, part of the National Gallery

Green areas

The city has an extensive green belt. Some of the neighbourhoods constructed after 2000 are densely built up and lack green spaces. There are four principal parks – Borisova gradina in the city centre and the Southern, Western and Northern parks. Several smaller parks, among which the Zaimov Park, City Garden and the Doctors' Garden, are located in central Sofia. The Vitosha Nature Park (the oldest national park in the Balkans)[103] includes most of Vitosha mountain and covers an area of 266 square kilometres (103 sq mi),[104] with roughly half of it lying within the municipality of Sofia. Vitosha Mountain is a popular hiking destination due to its proximity and ease of access via car and public transport. Two functioning cable cars provide year long access from the outskirts of the city. The mountain offers favourable skiing conditions during the winter and during the 70s and the 80s multiple ski slopes of various difficulty were made available. Skiing equipment can be rented and skiing lessons are available. However, due to the bad communication between the private offshore company that runs the resort and Sofia municipality, most of the ski area has been left to decay in the last 10 years so that currently there is only one chairlift and one slope working.

Government and law

Local government

Sofia Municipality is identical to Sofia City Province, which is distinct from Sofia Province, which surrounds but does not include the capital itself. Besides the city proper, the 24 districts of Sofia Municipality encompass three other towns and 34 villages.[108] Districts and settlements have their own governor who is elected in a popular election. The assembly members are chosen every four years. The common head of Sofia Municipality and all the 38 settlements is the mayor of Sofia.[108] The current mayor Yordanka Fandakova is serving a third consecutive term, having won the 2015 election at first round with 238,500 votes,[109] or 60.2% of the vote, when Reformist Bloc opponent Vili Lilkov was second with 9.6%; the turnout was 41.25%.[110] Some party leaders claimed that ballots were falsified and called for annulment of the election.[111] A precedent happened, due to the suspicion, as a preventative action between 300 and 5000 people and counters had been locked inside Arena Armeets against their will for two days,[112] following which the director of the Electoral Commission of Sofia resigned at the request of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.[113]

# Area km2 Pop. Density (/km2) Extent Mayor
1 Sredets 3 32,423 10,807 City RB
2 Krasno selo 7 83,552 11,936 City RB
3 Vazrazhdane 3 37,303 12,434 City GERB
4 Oborishte 3 31,060 10,353 City RB
5 Serdika 18 46,949 2,608 City GERB
6 Poduyane 11 76,672 6,970 City GERB
7 Slatina 13 66,702 5,130 City GERB
8 Izgrev 5 30,896 6,179 City GERB
9 Lozenets 9 53,080 5,897 City GERB
10 Triaditsa 10 63,451 6,345 City GERB
11 Krasna polyana 9 58,234 6,470 City GERB
12 Ilinden 3 33,236 11,078 City GERB
13 Nadezhda 19 67,905 3,573 City GERB
14 Iskar 26 63,248 2,432 City/satellites GERB
15 Mladost 17 102,899 6,052 City GERB
16 Studentski 9 71,961 7,995 City GERB
17 Vitosha 123 61,467 499 City/satellites RB
18 Ovcha kupel 42 54,320 1,293 City/satellites GERB
19 Lyulin 22 114,910 5,223 City GERB
20 Vrabnitsa 44 47,969 1,090 City/satellites GERB
21 Novi Iskar 220 28,991 131 Satellites GERB
22 Kremikovtsi 256 23,641 92 City/satellites RB
23 Pancharevo 407 28,586 70 Satellites GERB
24 Bankya 53 12,136 228 Satellites GERB
TOTAL 1342 1,291,591 962 [2][114][115]

National government

Sofia is the seat of the executive (Council of Ministers), legislative (National Assembly) and judiciary (Supreme Court and Constitutional Court) bodies of Bulgaria, as well as all government agencies, ministries, the National Bank, and the delegation of the European Commission. The President, along with the Council of Ministers, is located on Independence Square, also known as The Largo or The Triangle of Power.[116] One of the three buildings in the architectural ensemble, the former Bulgarian Communist Party headquarters, is due to become the seat of the Parliament. A refurbishment project is due to be completed in mid-2019,[117] while the old National Assembly building will become a museum or will only host ceremonial political events.[118]

National Assembly of Bulgaria

The current National Assembly building

Sofia (15326483440)

The Council of Ministers (left), Presidency (right) and the former National Assembly building

Independence Square (23997057638)

The edifice of the Presidency also houses the Ministry of Education and Science

Bulgarian National Bank - panoramio (1)

The Bulgarian National Bank

Under Bulgaria's centralised political system, Sofia concentrates much of the political and financial resources of the country. It is the only city in Bulgaria to host three electoral constituencies: the 23rd, 24th and 25th Multi-member Constituencies, which together field 42 mandates in the 240-member National Assembly.[119]


With a murder rate of 1.8/per 100.000 people (as of 2009) Sofia is a quite safe capital city.[120] Nevertheless, in the 21st century, crimes, including Bulgarian mafia killings, caused problems in the city,[121] where authorities had difficulties convicting the actors,[122] which had caused the European Commission to warn the Bulgarian government that the country would not be able to join the EU unless it curbed crime[123] (Bulgaria eventually joined in 2007).[124] Many of the most severe crimes are contract killings connected to the organised crime, but these had dropped in recent years after several arrests of gang members.[125] Corruption in Bulgaria also affects Sofia's authorities. According to the director of Sofia District Police Directorate the largest share of the crimes are thefts, making up 62.4% of all crimes in the capital city. Increasing are frauds, drug-related crimes, petty theft and vandalism.[126] According to a survey, almost a third of Sofia's residents say that they never feel safe in the Bulgarian capital, while 20% always feel safe.[127] As of 2015 the consumer-reported perceived crime risk on the Numbeo database was "high" for theft and vandalism and "low" for violent crimes; safety while walking during daylight was rated "very high", and "moderate" during the night.[128] With 1,600 prisoners the incarceration rate is above 0.1%;[129] however, roughly 70% of all prisoners are part of the Romani minority.[130]


Arts and entertainment

Sofia concentrates the majority of Bulgaria's leading performing arts troupes. Theatre is by far the most popular form of performing art, and theatrical venues are among the most visited, second only to cinemas. There were 3,162 theatric performances with 570,568 people attending in 2014.[131] The Ivan Vazov National Theatre, which performs mainly classical plays and is situated in the very centre of the city, is the most prominent theatre. The National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria is a combined opera and ballet collective established in 1891. Regular performances began in 1909. Some of Bulgaria's most famous operatic singers, such as Nicolai Ghiaurov and Ghena Dimitrova, made their first appearances on the stage of the National Opera and Ballet.

Cinema is the most popular form of entertainment: there were more than 141,000 film shows with a total attendance exceeding 2,700,000 in 2014.[132] Over the past two decades, numerous independent cinemas have closed and most shows are in shopping mall multiplexes. Odeon (not part of the Odeon Cinemas chain) shows exclusively European and independent American films, as well as 20th century classics. The Boyana Film studios was at the centre of a once-thriving domestic film industry, which declined significantly after 1990. Nu Image acquired the studios to upgrade them into Nu Boyana Film Studios, used to shoot scenes for a number of action movies like The Expendables 2, Rambo V and London Has Fallen.[133][134]

Museum of Contemporary Art - Sofia Arsenal Front facade, Софийски арсенал - Музей за съвременно изкуство
The Museum of Contemporary Art

Bulgaria's largest art museums are located in the central areas of the city. Since 2015, the National Art Gallery, the National Gallery for Foreign Art (NGFA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art – Sofia Arsenal were merged to form the National Gallery. Its largest branch is Kvadrat 500, located on the NFGA premises, where some 2,000 works are on display in twenty eight exhibition halls.[135] The collections encompass diverse cultural items, from Ashanti Empire sculptures and Buddhist art to Dutch Golden Age painting, works by Albrecht Dürer, Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Auguste Rodin. The crypt of the Alexander Nevsky cathedral is another branch of the National Gallery. It holds a collection of Eastern Orthodox icons from the 9th to the 19th century.

The National History Museum, located in Boyana, it has a vast collection of more than 650,000 historical items dating from Prehistory to the modern era, although only 10,000 of them are permanently displayed due to the lack of space.[136] Smaller collections of historical items are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum, a former mosque located between the edifices of the National Bank and the Presidency. Two natural sciences museums—the Natural History Museum and Earth and Man—display minerals, animal species (alive and taxidermic) and rare materials. The Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Military History hold large collections of Bulgarian folk costumes and armaments, respectively. The Polytechnical Museum has more than 1,000 technological items on display. The SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library, the foremost information repository in the country, holds some 1,800,000 books and more than 7,000,000 documents, manuscripts, maps and other items.[137]

The city houses many cultural institutes such as the Russian Cultural Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Hungarian Institute, the Czech and the Slovak Cultural Institutes, the Italian Cultural Institute, Confucius Institute, Institut Français, Goethe Institut, British Council and Instituto Cervantes which regularly organise temporary expositions of visual, sound and literary works by artists from their respective countries.

Some of the biggest telecommunications companies, TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and web portals are based in Sofia, including the Bulgarian National Television, bTV and Nova TV. Top-circulation newspapers include 24 Chasa and Trud.

The Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, contains realistic frescoes, depicting more than 240 human images and a total 89 scenes, were painted. With their vital, humanistic realism they are a Renaissance phenomenon at its culmination phase in the context of the common-European art.[138]


Vitosha boulevard, Sofia
Vitosha Boulevard, the main shopping street in the city.

Sofia is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bulgaria alongside coastal and mountain resorts. Among its highlights is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the symbols of Bulgaria, constructed in the late 19th century. It occupies an area of 3,170 square metres (34,122 square feet) and can hold 10,000 people.

Vitosha Boulevard, also called Vitoshka, is a pedestrian zone with numerous cafés, restaurants, fashion boutiques, and luxury goods stores. Sofia's geographic location, in the foothills of the weekend retreat Vitosha mountain, further adds to the city's specific atmosphere.


A large number of sports clubs are based in the city. During the Communist era most sports clubs concentrated on all-round sporting development, therefore CSKA, Levski, Lokomotiv and Slavia are dominant not only in football, but in many other team sports as well. Basketball and volleyball also have strong traditions in Sofia. A notable local basketball team is twice European Champions Cup finalist Lukoil Akademik. The Bulgarian Volleyball Federation is the world's second-oldest, and it was an exhibition tournament organised by the BVF in Sofia that convinced the International Olympic Committee to include volleyball as an olympic sport in 1957.[139] Tennis is increasingly popular in the city. Currently there are some ten[140] tennis court complexes within the city including the one founded by former WTA top-ten athlete Magdalena Maleeva.[141]

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. In 2012, it hosted the FIVB World League finals.

The city is home to a number of large sports venues, including the 43,000-seat Vasil Levski National Stadium which hosts international football matches, as well as the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium and Lokomotiv Stadium, the main venues for outdoor musical concerts. Armeets Arena holds many indoor events and has a capacity of up to 19,000 people depending on its use. The venue was inaugurated on 30 July 2011, and the first event it hosted was a friendly volleyball match between Bulgaria and Serbia. There are two ice skating complexes — the Winter Sports Palace with a capacity of 4,600 and the Slavia Winter Stadium with a capacity of 2,000, both containing two rinks each.[142] A velodrome with 5,000 seats in the city's central park is currently undergoing renovation.[143] There are also various other sports complexes in the city which belong to institutions other than football clubs, such as those of the National Sports Academy, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, or those of different universities. There are more than fifteen swimming complexes in the city, most of them outdoor.[144] 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 Ihtiman (Air Sofia club), and a horseriding club (St George club). Sofia was designated as European Capital of Sport in 2018. The decision was announced in November 2014 by the Evaluation Committee of ACES Europe, on the grounds that “the city is a good example of sport for all, as means to improve healthy lifestyle, integration and education, which are the basis of the initiative.”


Population growth over the years (in thousands):

13.modelat bay Georgi i studenti ot akademiata
Students of the National Academy of Arts (circa 1952–53). People aged 20–25 years have been the most numerous group in the city since the process of Bulgarian urbanisation.

According to 2018 data, the city has a population of 1,238,438 and the whole Sofia Capital Municipality of 1,325,429.[145]The first census carried out in February 1878 by the Russian Army recorded a population of 11,694 inhabitants including 6,560 Bulgarians, 3,538 Jews, 839 Turks and 737 Romani.

The ratio of women per 1,000 men was 1,102. The birth rate per 1000 people was 12.3 per mille and steadily increasing in the last 5 years, the death rate reaching 12.1 per mille and decreasing. The natural growth rate during 2009 was 0.2 per mille, the first positive growth rate in nearly 20 years. The considerable immigration to the capital from poorer regions of the country, as well as urbanisation, are among the other reasons for the increase in Sofia's population. The infant mortality rate was 5.6 per 1,000, down from 18.9 in 1980. According to the 2011 census, people aged 20–24 years are the most numerous group, numbering 133,170 individuals and accounting for 11% of the total 1,202,761 people. The median age is 38 though. According to the census, 1,056,738 citizens (87.9%) are recorded as ethnic Bulgarians, 17,550 (1.5%) as Romani, 6,149 (0.5%) as Turks, 9,569 (0.8%) belonged to other ethnic groups, 6,993 (0.6%) do not self-identify and 105,762 (8.8%) remained with undeclared affiliation.[146] This statistic should not necessarily be taken at face value due to conflicting data – such as for the predominantly Roma neighbourhood of Fakulteta, which alone may have a population of 45,000.[147]

According to the 2011 census, throughout the whole municipality some 892,511 people (69.1%) are recorded as Eastern Orthodox Christians, 10,256 (0.8%) as Protestant, 6,767 (0.5%) as Muslim, 5,572 (0.4%) as Roman Catholic, 4,010 (0.3%) belonged to other faith and 372,475 (28.8%) declared themselves irreligious or did not mention any faith. The data says that roughly a third of the total population have already earned a university degree. Of the population aged 15–64 – 265,248 people within the municipality (28.5%) are not economically active, the unemployed being another group of 55,553 people (6%), a large share of whom have completed higher education. The largest group are occupied in trading, followed by those in manufacturing industry. Within the municipality, three quarters, or 965,328 people are recorded as having access to television at home and 836,435 (64.8%) as having internet. Out of 464,865 homes – 432,847 have connection to the communal sanitary sewer, while 2,732 do not have any. Of these 864 do not have any water supply and 688 have other than communal. Over 99.6% of males and females aged over 9 are recorded as literate. The largest group of the population aged over 20 are recorded to live within marriage (46.3%), another 43.8% are recorded as single and another 9.9% as having other type of coexistence/partnership, whereas not married in total are a majority and among people aged up to 40 and over 70. The people with juridical status divorced or widowed are either part of the factual singles or those having another type of partnership, each of the two constitutes by around 10% of the population aged over 20. Only over 1% of the juridically married do not de facto live within marriage. The families that consist of two people are 46.8%, another 34.2% of the families are made up by three people, whereas most of the households (36.5%) consist of only one person.[101]

Sofia was declared the national capital in 1879. One year later, in 1880, it was the fifth-largest city in the country after Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse and Shumen. Plovdiv remained the most populous Bulgarian town until 1892 when Sofia took the lead. The city is the hot spot of internal migration, the capital population is increasing and is around 17% of the national,[148] thus a small number of people with local roots remain today, they dominate the surrounding rural suburbs and are called Shopi. Shopi speak the Western Bulgarian dialects.


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Capital Fort, a 126-meter skyscraper on Tsarigradsko shose.

Sofia is the economic hub of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country, the National Bank and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. The city's GDP (PPS) per capita stood at €29,600 ($33,760) in 2015, one of the lowest for a capital region in the EU, but well above other cities in the country.[149] Nominal GDP in 2014 was 32.8 billion leva ($19.1 billion) The average per capita annual income was 6,890 leva ($4,019) in 2014,[150] and average monthly wages in June 2018 were $880, the highest nationally.[151] Services dominate the economy, accounting for 85.9% of gross value added.[152]

In 2015, Forbes listed Sofia as one of the top 10 places in the world to launch a startup business, because of the low corporate tax (10%), the fast internet connection speeds available – one of the fastest in the world, and the presence of several investment funds, including Eleven Startup Accelerator, LAUNCHub and Neveq.[153]

Historically, after World War II and the era of industrialisation under socialism, the city and its surrounding areas expanded rapidly and became the most heavily industrialised region of the country.[154] The influx of workers from other parts of the country became so intense that a restriction policy was imposed, and residing in the capital was only possible after obtaining Sofianite citizenship.[154] However, after the political changes in 1989, this kind of citizenship was removed. In 2015 Globalization and World Cities Research Institute ranked Sofia as Beta- world city.[155] As of 12 September 2018 Sofia is ranked among the 100 financial top centres worldwide.[156]

Up until 2007 Sofia experienced rapid economic growth. In 2008, apartment prices increased dramatically, with a growth rate of 30%.[157] In 2009, prices fell by 26%.[158]

In January 2015 Sofia was ranked 30th out of 300 global cities in terms of combined growth in employment and real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2013–2014. This was the highest rank amongst cities in Southeast Europe.[159] The real GDP (PPP) per capita growth was 2.5% to $33,105 (28,456 euro) and the employment went up by 3.4% to 962,400 in 2013–2014.[160]

Transport and infrastructure

With its developing infrastructure and strategic location, Sofia is a major hub for international railway and automobile transport. Three of the ten Pan-European Transport Corridors cross the city: IV, VIII and X.[161] All major types of transport (except water) are represented in the city.

21.04.10 Sofia 31005 (6168607167)
A Siemens Desiro train of the Bulgarian State Railways at the Central Railway Station

The Central Railway Station is the primary hub for domestic and international rail transport, carried out by Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ), the national rail company headquartered in the city. It is one of the main stations along BDZ Line 1, and a hub of Lines 2, 5 and 13. Line 1 provides a connection to Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, while Line 2 is the longest national railway and connects Sofia and Varna, the largest coastal city. Lines 5 and 13 are shorter and provide connections to Kulata and Bankya, respectively. Overall, Sofia has 186 km (116 miles) of railway lines.[162]

Sofia Airport handled 4,980,387 passengers in 2016.[163]

Public transport is well-developed with bus (2,380 km (1,479 mi)),[164] tram (308 km (191 mi))[165] and trolleybus (193 km (120 mi))[166] lines running in all areas of the city.[167][168] The Sofia Metro became operational in 1998, and now has two lines and 34 stations.[169] As of 2012, the system has 39 km (24 mi) of track. Six new stations were opened in 2009, two more in April 2012, and eleven more in August 2012. In 2015 new 7 stations were opened and the subway extends to Sofia Airport on its Northern branch and to Business Park Sofia on its Southern branch. On July 2016 the Vitosha Metro Station was opened on the M2 main line. A third line is currently under construction and is expected to be finished in the second half of 2019.[170] This line will complete the proposed subway system of three lines with about 65 km (40 mi) of lines.[171] The master plan for the Sofia Metro includes three lines with a total of 63 stations.[172] Marshrutkas provide an efficient and popular means of transport by being faster than public transport, but cheaper than taxis. There are around 13,000 taxi cabs operating in the city.[173] Additionally, all-electric vehicles are available through carsharing company Spark, which is set to increase its fleet to 300 cars by mid-2019.[174]

Sofia (37536243674)
Cherni Vrah Boulevard

Private automobile ownership has grown rapidly in the 1990s; more than 1,000,000 cars were registered in Sofia after 2002. The city has the 4th-highest number of automobiles per capita in the European Union at 546.4 vehicles per 1,000 people.[175] The municipality was known for minor and cosmetic repairs and many streets are in a poor condition. This is noticeably changing in the past years. There are different boulevards and streets in the city with a higher amount of traffic than others. These include Tsarigradsko shose, Cherni Vrah, Bulgaria, Slivnitsa and Todor Aleksandrov boulevards, as well as the city's ring road, where long chains of cars are formed at peak hours and traffic jams occur regularly.[176] 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 an extensive district heating system based around four combined heat and power (CHP) plants and boiler stations. 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 (559 mi) long and comprises 14,000 substations and 10,000 heated buildings.

Education and science

Faculty of Chemistry Sofia University
The Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy of Sofia University

Much of Bulgaria's educational capacity is concentrated in Sofia. There are 221 general, 11 special and seven arts or sports schools, 56 vocational gymnasiums and colleges, and four independent colleges.[177] The city also hosts 23 of Bulgaria's 51 higher education establishments and more than 105,000 university students.[178][179] The American College of Sofia, a private secondary school with roots in a school founded by American missionaries in 1860, is among the oldest American educational institutions outside of the United States.[180]

A number of secondary language schools provide education in a selected foreign language. These include the First English Language School, 91st German Language School, 164th Spanish Language School, and the Lycée Français. These are among the most sought-after secondary schools, along with Vladislav the Grammarian 72nd Secondary School and the High School of Mathematics, which topped the 2018 preference list for high school candidates.[181]

Higher education includes four of the five highest-ranking national universities – Sofia University (SU), the Technical University of Sofia, New Bulgarian University and the Medical University of Sofia.[182] Sofia University was founded in 1888.[183] More than 20,000 students[184] study in its 16 faculties.[185] A number of research and cultural departments operate within SU, including its own publishing house, botanical gardens,[186] a space research centre, a quantum electronics department,[187] and a Confucius Institute.[188] Rakovski Defence and Staff College, the National Academy of Arts, the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, the University of National and World Economy and the University of Mining and Geology are other major higher education establishments in the city.[182]

Other institutions of national significance, such as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) and the SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library are located in Sofia. BAS is the centrepiece of scientific research in Bulgaria, employing more than 4,500 scientists in various institutes. Its Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy will operate the largest cyclotron in the country.[189][190] All five of Bulgaria's supercomputers and supercomputing clusters are located in Sofia as well. Three of those are operated by the BAS; one by Sofia Tech Park and one by the Faculty of Physics at Sofia University.[191]

International relations

Twin and sister cities

Sofia is twinned with:

Cooperation agreements

In addition Sofia has co-operation agreements with:


Serdica Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Serdica.

See also


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  • "Sofia in Figures" (PDF) (in Bulgarian and English). National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria. 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2018.

Further reading

  • Gigova, Irina (March 2011). "The City and the Nation: Sofia's Trajectory from Glory to Rubble in WWII". Journal of Urban History. 37 (2): 155–175.The 110 footnotes provide a guide to the literature on the city
  • "Sofia in Figures 2009" (PDF). Regional Statistical Office of Sofia. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2011.
  • "Sofia — 130 Years Capital" (in Bulgarian). Archived from the original on 28 January 2011.

External links

Bulgarian Cup

The Bulgarian Cup (Bulgarian: Купа на България) is a Bulgarian annual football competition. It is the country's main cup competition and all officially registered Bulgarian football teams take part in it.

The tournament's format is single-elimination, with all matches being one-legged, except the semi-finals. The competition's winner gets the right to take part in the UEFA Europa League. If the winner has already secured a place through the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, the team that has come fourth in the championship substitutes it.

The competition has been dominated by Sofia-based teams. The Sofia teams have won together a total number of 61 titles. The three most successful teams are Levski Sofia (25 cups), CSKA Sofia (20 cups) and Slavia Sofia (8 cups). The most recent winner of the Bulgarian Cup is Slavia Sofia, who beat Levski Sofia 4–2 on penalties in the 2018 Bulgarian Cup Final.

Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov (Bulgarian: Димитър Иванов Бербатов [diˈmitɐr bɛrˈbatɔf]; born 30 January 1981) is a Bulgarian professional footballer who is currently a free Agent. A striker, he captained the Bulgaria national team from 2006 to 2010, and is the country's all-time leading goalscorer. He has also won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, surpassing the number of wins by Hristo Stoichkov.

Born in Blagoevgrad, Berbatov started out with his home-town club Pirin before joining CSKA Sofia as a 17-year-old in 1998. He was signed by Bayer Leverkusen of Germany in January 2001 and played in his first Champions League final 18 months later, coming on as a substitute in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final, which Leverkusen lost 2–1 to Real Madrid.

After five-and-a-half years with Leverkusen, he joined English club Tottenham Hotspur in July 2006, where he spent two years before moving to Manchester United. He played in his second Champions League final in 2009, during his side's 2–0 defeat against Barcelona. After four seasons with United, during which time he won two Premier League titles in 2008–09 and 2010–11, as well as the Premier League Golden Boot in 2010–11, he joined Fulham in August 2012. He had later spells in France with Monaco, Greece with PAOK, and India with Kerala Blasters.

FC Lokomotiv 1929 Sofia

Lokomotiv 1929 (Bulgarian: Локомотив 1929) is a Bulgarian professional football club in Sofia, which competes in the Second League, the second tier of Bulgarian football. The club has won 4 League titles and 4 Bulgarian Cups.

They plays its home matches at the local Lokomotiv Stadium.

First Professional Football League (Bulgaria)

The First Professional Football League (Bulgarian: Първа професионална футболна лига) is a Bulgarian professional league for men's association football clubs. Standing at the top of the Bulgarian football league system, it serves as the country's primary football competition. The league determines the champion of Bulgaria and is contested by fourteen teams. It operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the second tier of the Bulgarian football league pyramid, the Second League. Known by its previous name A Group, the Bulgarian top-tier was fully restructured during the summer of 2016, when new licensing criteria were introduced.

The Bulgarian football championship was inaugurated in 1924 as the Bulgarian State Football Championship and has been played in a league format since 1948, when the A Group was established. The champions of the First League have the right to participate in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League based on the league's European coefficient. Additionally, two UEFA Europa League spots are allocated to the second team in the final standings and the winner of the European playoffs. A further fourth spot may also be granted to the fourth placed team in the final league ranking, given that the Bulgarian Cup holder has finished among the top three teams at the end of the season.

A total of 67 clubs have competed in the Bulgarian top-tier since its establishment. In the last decade, many teams such as the current champions Ludogorets were introduced for the first time in the league. In 2016–17, Vereya Stara Zagora became the 67th club to participate in the competition. Since 1948, eleven different teams have been crowned champions of Bulgaria. The three most successful clubs are CSKA Sofia with 31 titles, Levski Sofia with 26 titles and Slavia Sofia with 7 titles respectively. The current champions Ludogorets Razgrad won their seventh consecutive title in their seventh First League season in 2017–18.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (; from the Greek Αγία Σοφία, pronounced [aˈʝia soˈfia], "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya) is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".The Hagia Sophia construction consists of mostly masonry. The structure is composed of brick and mortar joints that are 1.5 times the width of the bricks. The mortar joints are composed of a combination of sand and minute ceramic pieces displaced very evenly throughout the mortar joints. This combination of sand and ceramic pieces could be considered to be the equivalent of modern concrete at the time.From the date of its construction's completion in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the prior one having been destroyed by rioters in the Nika Revolt. It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia (as though it were named after Sophia the Martyr), sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom, its full name in Greek is Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας, Naos tēs Hagias tou Theou Sophias, "Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God". The church contained a large collection of relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre (49 ft) silver iconostasis. The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius officially communicated by Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East–West Schism.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. Although some parts of the city of Constantinople were falling into disrepair, the cathedral was maintained with an amount of money set aside for this purpose. Nevertheless, the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints, and angels were also destroyed or plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab (a niche in the wall indicating the direction toward Mecca, for prayer), minbar (pulpit), and four minarets – were added. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia was, as of 2014, the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually. According to data released by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Hagia Sophia was Turkey's most visited tourist attraction in 2015.From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul. The Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the aforementioned mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex.

On 24 March 2019, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the Hagia Sophia might be reverted to a mosque.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, also called the Museo Reina Sofía, Queen Sofía Museum, El Reina Sofía, or simply El Reina) is Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. The museum was officially inaugurated on September 10, 1992, and is named for Queen Sofía. It is located in Madrid, near the Atocha train and metro stations, at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's painting Guernica. Along with its extensive collection, the museum offers a mixture of national and international temporary exhibitions in its many galleries, making it one of the world's largest museums for modern and contemporary art.

It also hosts a free-access library specializing in art, with a collection of over 100,000 books, over 3,500 sound recordings, and almost 1,000 videos.


CSKA (Bulgarian: ЦСКА) is a Bulgarian professional association football club based in Sofia and currently competing in the country's premier football competition, the First League. CSKA is an abbreviation for Central Sports Club of the Army (Bulgarian: Централен Спортен Клуб на Армията).

Officially established on 5 May 1948, CSKA's roots date back to an army officers' club founded in 1923. The club has won a record 31 Bulgarian titles and 20 Bulgarian Cups. Internationally, CSKA are the only Bulgarian club to have reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, which they have done twice, and they have also reached the semi-final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup once.CSKA's home colors are red and white and its home ground is the Bulgarian Army Stadium. The club's biggest rivals are Levski Sofia and matches between the two sides are known as "The Eternal Derby of Bulgaria".

PFC Levski Sofia

Levski Sofia (Bulgarian: Левски София) is a professional association football club based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The team competes in the First League, the top division of the Bulgarian football league system. The club was founded on May 24, 1914, as a football department of Sport Club Levski by a group of students and is named after Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian revolutionary renowned as the national hero of the country.

Levski have participated in more seasons of the Bulgarian football championship than any other team and are the only Bulgarian team to have never been relegated. They have won 26 A Group titles, 25 Bulgarian Cups and 3 Super Cups, which include a record 13 Doubles and 2 Trebles. On an international basis, Levski have reached three European Cup Winners' Cup quarterfinals and two UEFA Cup quarterfinals. In 2006, they became the first Bulgarian club to reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The team's regular kit colour is all-blue. Levski's home ground is the Vivacom Arena - Georgi Asparuhov Stadium in Sofia, which has a capacity of 25,000 spectators. The club's biggest rivals are CSKA Sofia, and matches between the two capital sides are commonly referred to as The Eternal Derby of Bulgaria. Levski is also a regular member of the European Club Association and the European Multisport Club Association.

PFC Slavia Sofia

PFC Slavia Sofia (Bulgarian: ПФК Славия София) is a Bulgarian professional association football club based in Sofia, which currently competes in the top tier of the Bulgarian football league system, the First League. Slavia's home ground is the Slavia Stadium in Ovcha Kupel with a capacity of 25,556. The team's colours are white and black. Established on 10 April 1913, Slavia is currently the oldest sports club in Sofia.

Domestically, the club has won the Bulgarian Championship seven times and the Bulgarian Cup eight times. They have also been runners-up in the championship ten times and have reached the cup final on three additional occasions.

Among the team's international successes are a European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final in 1967 and a quarter-final in 1981, as well as two consecutive Balkans Cup trophies in 1986 and 1988.

Provinces of Bulgaria

The provinces of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: области на България, translit. oblasti na Bǎlgarija) are the first level administrative subdivisions of the country.

Since 1999, Bulgaria has been divided into 28 provinces (Bulgarian: области – oblasti; singular: област – oblast; also translated as "regions") which correspond approximately to the 28 districts (in Bulgarian: окръг – okrags, plural: окръзи – okrǎzi), that existed before 1987.

The provinces are further subdivided into 265 municipalities (singular: община – obshtina, plural: общини – obshtini).

Sofia – the capital city of Bulgaria and the largest settlement in the country, is the administrative centre of both Sofia Province and Sofia City Province (Sofia-grad). The capital is included (together with 3 other cities plus 34 villages) in Sofia Capital Municipality (over 90% of whose population lives in Sofia), which is the sole municipality comprising Sofia City province.

Queen Sofía of Spain

Sofía of Greece and Denmark (Greek: Σοφία; born 2 November 1938) is a member of the Spanish royal family who served as Queen of Spain during the reign of her husband, King Juan Carlos I, from 1975 to 2014. Queen Sofía is the first child of King Paul of Greece and Frederica of Hanover. As her family was forced into exile during the Second World War, she spent part of her childhood in South Africa, returning to Greece in 1946. She completed her secondary education in a boarding school in Germany before returning to Greece where she specialised in childcare, music and archaeology. She married Juan Carlos, son of the Spanish pretender Infante Juan, on 14 May 1962 with whom she has had three children: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.

She became queen upon her husband's accession in 1975. On 19 June 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of their son Felipe VI.

Sofia Airport

Sofia Airport (IATA: SOF, ICAO: LBSF) (Bulgarian: Летище София, Letishte Sofiya) is the main international airport of Bulgaria located 10 km (6.2 mi) east of the centre of the capital Sofia. In 2017 the airport surpassed 6 million passengers for the first time. The airport serves as the home base for BH Air, Bulgaria Air, and Bulgarian Air Charter and as a base for both Ryanair and Wizz Air. The Vrazhdebna Air Base of the Bulgarian Air Force is at the airport.

Sofia Boutella

Sofia Boutella (Arabic: صوفيا بوتلة‎; born April 3, 1982) is a French-Algerian dancer, model and actress. Boutella has starred as Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), an alien warrior named Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond (2016), and the main antagonist, Princess Ahmanet, in Universal's Dark Universe film The Mummy (2017). Also in 2017, she starred alongside Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, the film adaptation of the graphic novel The Coldest City, as undercover French agent Delphine Lasalle.

Sofia Carson

Sofía Daccarett Char, known professionally as Sofia Carson (born April 10, 1993), is an American singer and actress. Her first appearance on television was as a guest star on the Disney Channel show, Austin & Ally. In 2015, she appeared as Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen, in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Descendants and reprised her role in its 2017 sequel, Descendants 2. In 2016, she appeared as Lola Perez in Adventures in Babysitting, Melanie Sanchez in Tini: The Movie, and Tessa in A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits. In March 2019, Carson began starring in Freeform drama series Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists.

Sofia Coppola

Sofia Carmina Coppola (; born May 14, 1971) is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and former actress.

The daughter of filmmakers Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola, she made her film debut as an infant in her father's acclaimed crime drama film, The Godfather (1972). She later appeared in a supporting role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and portrayed Mary Corleone, the daughter of Michael Corleone, in The Godfather: Part III (1990). Her performance in the latter was severely criticised, and she turned her attention to filmmaking.

She made her feature-length debut with the coming-of-age drama The Virgin Suicides (1999), based on the novel of the same name by Jeffery Eugenides. It was the first of her collaborations with actress Kirsten Dunst. In 2004, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the comedy-drama Lost in Translation and became the third woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2006, Coppola directed the historical drama Marie Antoinette, starring Dunst as the ill-fated French queen. In 2010, with the drama Somewhere, Coppola became the first American woman (and fourth American filmmaker) to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. In 2013, she directed the satirical crime film The Bling Ring, based on the crime ring of the same name.

At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Coppola became the second woman in the festival's history to win the Best Director award, for the drama film The Beguiled.

Sofia University

Sofia University, "St. Kliment Ohridski" at the University of Sofia, (Bulgarian: Софийски университет „Св. Климент Охридски“, Sofijski universitet „Sv. Kliment Ohridski“) is the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria.

Founded on 1 October 1888, the edifice of the university was constructed between 1924 and 1934 with the financial support of the brothers Evlogi Georgiev and Hristo Georgiev (whose sculptures are now featured on its façade) and has an area of 18,624 m² and a total of 324 premises. The university has 16 faculties and three departments, where over 21,000 students receive their education. The current rector is Anastas Gerdzhikov.

It has been consistently ranked as the top university in Bulgaria according to national and international rankings, being constantly among the best four percent of world universities according to QS World University Rankings.

Sofia the First

Sofia the First is an American animated television series that premiered on November 18, 2012, produced by Disney Television Animation for Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Jamie Mitchell is the director and executive producer and Craig Gerber serves as creator, story editor and producer. The show follows the adventures of Sofia, played by Ariel Winter. Sofia becomes a princess when her mother, Miranda, marries King Roland II of Enchancia. The show features songs by John Kavanaugh and Erica Rothschild and a musical score by Kevin Kliesch. The show had its final episode on September 8, 2018.

Sofía Vergara

Sofía Margarita Vergara Vergara (Spanish: [soˈfi.a βeɾˈɣaɾa]; born July 10, 1972) is a Colombian-American actress and model. Vergara rose to prominence while co-hosting two television shows for Spanish-language television network Univisión in the late 1990s. Her first notable acting job in English was in the film Chasing Papi (2003). Subsequently, she appeared in other films, including Four Brothers (2005) and two Tyler Perry films: Meet the Browns (2008) and Madea Goes to Jail (2009), receiving an ALMA Award nomination for the latter. Vergara's success on television has earned her roles in films The Smurfs (2011), New Year's Eve (2011), Happy Feet Two (2011), The Three Stooges (2012), Escape from Planet Earth (2013), Machete Kills (2013), Chef (2014), and Hot Pursuit (2015). In 2012, 2013, and 2016, she was the top-earning actress on US television.Vergara stars on the ABC series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, for which she has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Sophia Loren

Sofia Villani Scicolone, (Italian: [soˈfiːa vilˈlaːni ʃʃikoˈloːne]; born 20 September 1934), known professionally as Sophia Loren (Italian: [ˈlɔːren], English: ), is an Italian film actress and singer. Encouraged to enroll in acting lessons after entering a beauty pageant, Loren began her film career at age 16 in 1950. She appeared in several bit parts and minor roles in the early part of the decade, until her five-picture contract with Paramount in 1956 launched her international career. Notable film appearances around this time include The Pride and the Passion, Houseboat, and It Started in Naples.

Her talents as an actress were not recognized until her performance as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women; Loren's performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962 and made her the first actress to win an Oscar for a foreign-language performance. She holds the record for having earned six David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress: Two Women; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; Marriage Italian Style (for which she was nominated for a second Oscar); Sunflower; The Voyage; and A Special Day. After starting a family in the early 1970s, Loren chose to make only occasional film appearances. In later years, she has appeared in American films such as Grumpier Old Men (1995) and Nine (2009).

Aside from the Academy Award, she has won a Grammy Award, five special Golden Globes, a BAFTA Award, a Laurel Award, the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Honorary Academy Award in 1991. In 1995, she received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievements, one of many such awards. In 1999, Loren was named by the American Film Institute as one of the 25 greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema, and she is currently the only living actress on the list.

Climate data for Sofia (NIMH−BAS) 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1941–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19
Average high °C (°F) 3.4
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.6
Average low °C (°F) −3.9
Record low °C (°F) −28.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33.2
Average snowfall cm (inches) 24.1
Average precipitation days 9.1 8.9 9.9 13.3 13.4 12.6 9.4 8.2 7.2 7.5 9.9 10.3 119.7
Average snowy days 7.2 6.2 5.7 1.4 0 0 0 0 0 0.8 3.1 6.9 31.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 87.8 114.3 159.6 182.2 229.6 257.7 302.1 288.3 220.1 163.6 105.5 66.1 2,176.9
Source #1: [54][55]
Source #2: precipitation days and extremes[56][57][58][59][60][61][62]
Climate data for Sofia (NIMH−BAS) 1991-2017 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 3.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.6
Average low °C (°F) −3.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 37.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 86.5 117.9 168.9 190.6 236.9 273.4 315.2 304.7 220.2 162.3 109.1 69.5 2,255.2
Source #1:
Source #2: [63][64]
Bulgaria Cities and towns of Bulgaria (2011 census)
Capitals of European states and territories

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