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Sofia

София  (Bulgarian)
Capital city
Sofia 333.jpg
Motto(s): 
"Ever growing, never aging"[1]
("Расте, но не старее")
Sofia is located in Bulgaria
Sofia
Sofia
Location of Sofia
Sofia is located in Balkans
Sofia
Sofia
Sofia (Balkans)
Sofia is located in Europe
Sofia
Sofia
Sofia (Europe)
Coordinates: 42°42′N 23°20′E / /ˈsfiə, ˈsɒf-, sˈfə/ SOH-fee-ə, SOF-;[14][15] Bulgarian: София, romanizedSofiya,[16][17] IPA: [ˈsɔfijɐ] (About this soundlisten)) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The city is situated in the eponymous valley at the foot of the Vitosha mountain in the western parts of the country. The city is built west of the Iskar river, and has many mineral springs, such as the Sofia Central Mineral Baths. It has a humid continental climate. Being in the centre of the Balkans, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea.[18][19]

Known as Serdica in Antiquity and Sredets in the Middle Ages, Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC. The recorded history of the city begins with the attestation of the conquest of Serdica by the Roman Republic in 29 BC from the Celtic tribe Serdi. During the decline of the Roman Empire, the city was raided by Huns, Visigoths, Avars and Slavs. In 809 Serdica was incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire by Khan Krum and became known as Sredets. In 1018, the Byzantines ended Bulgarian rule until 1194, when it was reincorporated by the reborn Bulgarian Empire. Sredets became a major administrative, economic, cultural and literary hub until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1382. From 1530 to 1826, Sofia was the regional capital of Rumelia Eyalet, the Ottoman Empire's key province in Europe. Bulgarian rule was restored in 1878. Sofia was selected as the capital of the Third Bulgarian State in the next year, ushering a period of intense demographic and economic growth.

Sofia is the 13th largest city in the European Union. It is surrounded by mountainsides, such as Vitosha by the southern side, Lyulin by the western side, and the Balkan Mountains by the north, which makes it the third highest European capital after Andorra la Vella and Madrid. Being Bulgaria's primate city, Sofia is home of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies.[20] The city has been described as the "triangle of religious tolerance". This is due to the fact that three temples of the three world major religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—are situated within one square: Sveta Nedelya Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue.[21] This triangle was recently expanded to a "square" and includes the Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph, Sofia.[22]

Sofia has been named one of the top ten best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies.[23] Sofia was Europe's most affordable capital to visit in 2013.[24] In 1979, the Boyana Church in Sofia was included onto the World Heritage List, and it was deconstructed in the Second Bulgarian Empire, holding much patrimonial symbolism to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. With its cultural significance in Southeast Europe, Sofia is home to the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria, the National Palace of Culture, the Vasil Levski National Stadium, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Serdica Amphitheatre. The Museum of Socialist Art includes many sculptures and posters that educate visitors about the lifestyle in communist Bulgaria.[25]

The population of Sofia declined from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878, after which it began increasing.[26] Sofia hosts some 1.24 million[2] residents within a territory of 492 km2,[27] a concentration of 17.9% 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.[28] The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.67 million.[8]

Names

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

For the longest time the city possessed[29] a Thracian name, Serdica, derived from the tribe Serdi, who were either of Thracian,[16][18] Celtic,[30] or mixed Thracian-Celtic origin.[31][32] The emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus (53 – 117 AD) gave the city the combinative name of Ulpia Serdica;[33]Antiquity and Sredets in the Middle Ages, Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC. The recorded history of the city begins with the attestation of the conquest of Serdica by the Roman Republic in 29 BC from the Celtic tribe Serdi. During the decline of the Roman Empire, the city was raided by Huns, Visigoths, Avars and Slavs. In 809 Serdica was incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire by Khan Krum and became known as Sredets. In 1018, the Byzantines ended Bulgarian rule until 1194, when it was reincorporated by the reborn Bulgarian Empire. Sredets became a major administrative, economic, cultural and literary hub until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1382. From 1530 to 1826, Sofia was the regional capital of Rumelia Eyalet, the Ottoman Empire's key province in Europe. Bulgarian rule was restored in 1878. Sofia was selected as the capital of the Third Bulgarian State in the next year, ushering a period of intense demographic and economic growth.

Sofia is the 13th largest city in the European Union. It is surrounded by mountainsides, such as Vitosha by the southern side, Lyulin by the western side, and the Balkan Mountains by the north, which makes it the third highest European capital after Andorra la Vella and Madrid. Being Bulgaria's primate city, Sofia is home of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies.[20] The city has been described as the "triangle of religious tolerance". This is due to the fact that three temples of the three world major religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—are situated within one square: Sveta Nedelya Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue.[21] This triangle was recently expanded to a "square" and includes the Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph, Sofia.[22]

Sofia has been named one of the top ten best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies.[23] Sofia was Europe's most affordable capital to visit in 2013.[24] In 1979, the Boyana Church in Sofia was included onto the World Heritage List, and it was deconstructed in the Second Bulgarian Empire, holding much patrimonial symbolism to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. With its cultural significance in Southeast Europe, Sofia is home to the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria, the National Palace of Culture, the Vasil Levski National Stadium, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Serdica Amphitheatre. The Museum of Socialist Art includes many sculptures and posters that educate visitors about the lifestyle in communist Bulgaria.[25]

The population of Sofia declined from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878, after which it began increasing.[26] Sofia hosts some 1.24 million[2] residents within a territory of 492 km2,[27] a concentration of 17.9% 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.[28] The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.67 million.[8]

For the longest time the city possessed[29] a Thracian name, Serdica, derived from the tribe Serdi, who were either of Thracian,[16][18] Celtic,[30] or mixed Thracian-Celtic origin.[31][32] The emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus (53 – 117 AD) gave the city the combinative name of Ulpia Serdica;[33][34] Ulpia may be derived from an Umbrian cognate of the Latin word lupus, meaning "wolf"[35] 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.[36]

The name Sofia comes from the Saint Sofia Church,[37] as opposed to the prevailing Slavic origin of Bulgarian cities and towns. The origin is in the Greek word sophia (σοφία) "wisdom". 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.[38] 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 Ottomans came to favour 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.[39]

Geography

Sofia City Province has an area of 1344 km2,[40] while the surrounding and much bigger Sofia Province is 7,059 km2. 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 straddle any large river, 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 shallow rivers cross the city, including the Boyanska, Vladayska and Perlovska. The Iskar River in its upper course flows near eastern Sofia. It takes its source in Rila, Bulgaria's highest mountain,[41] and enters Sofia Valley near the village of German. The Iskar flows north toward the Balkan Mountains, passing between the eastern city suburbs, next to the main building and below the runways of Sofia Airport, and flows out of the Sofia Valley at the town of Novi Iskar, where the scenic Iskar Gorge begins.[42]

The city is known for its 49 mineral and thermal springs. Artificial and dam lakes were built in the twentieth century.