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Description of the image

The current image presents the map of Sofia, the Capital City of Bulgaria, divided by its district regions and sectioned in three parts.

The map of Sofia itself is outlined with a thickened line, and also the district bounderies.

Therefore, the map consists of three major districts, each of them grouping other neighborhoods, located on the outskirts of Sofia .

The districts of the compact city of Sofia, being the oldest, are textured in a high relief and centrally positioned.

The Southern suburban districts, developed with time, are marked with a dotted pattern and situated, as their name says, in the upper side.

The Southern districts consist in the following neighborhoods, from top left to down right: Bankya, Ovcha kupel, Vitosha and Pancharevo.

The Northern suburban districts can be depicted by its vertical and parallel line pattern and these are located downside the central city.

The Northern districts include, from left to right: Vrabnitsa, Novi Iskar and Kremikovtsi.

Historical data

The largest city and the capital of Bulgaria has a millennial history, being originally a settlement of the south-Danube Thracians that called it Serdica. Today, the city has about 1,250,000 inhabitants and continues to be the economic and cultural centre of Bulgaria.

It is located in the western part of the country, on the Sofia Plain and in the shadow of the low hills of Mount Vitosha. It is situated at an altitude of 550 meters, and its climate is a moderate-continental one characterized by cold winters and pleasant summers. Located at a strategic road junction, Sofia connects Istanbul with the rest of Western Europe.

Sofia is also relatively close to the capitals of most Balkan states. Attracted by hot water springs nearby, Serdica was captured by Romans who transformed it into a typical Roman settlement. During the emperor Trajan, the settlement was called Ulpia Serdica and became the administrative centre of the province of Thrace. Also, Serdica was the favourite city of Emperor Constantine the Great, who used to often say that “Serdica is my Rome”. Around 175, a defence wall was erected around the settlement, and the future Sofia prospered during the time of Emperor Justinian.

At the beginning of the 9th century, Krum, the Bulgarian inn invaded Serdica, and the city became an important part of the First Bulgarian Empire during the Ormutag inn (814-831). At that time, the city received the name of Sredets (Center) because of its strategic position. Between the years 1018-1094, the city was conquered by the Byzantines, an occasion with which it consolidated its position as a cultural, strategic and economic centre. The city took its name from Sofia at the end of the 14th century, in honour of its most important symbol, the church of St. Sofia. The name of the city is pronounced by Bulgarians with an emphasis on “o”, as opposed to the tendency of foreigners to emphasize “i”. The name of this church eventually comes from the Greek word “sofos”, meaning “wise” or “skilful” [bibliography 1]. The feminine name “Sofia” is pronounced by Bulgarians with an emphasis on “i”. [bibliography 2]

In 1382, Sofia fell into the hands of the Ottoman conquerors, being released only after five centuries of oppression, on April 3, 1879.

Sofia is still home to many valuable historical monuments, and visitors can admire the Eastern Gate, which has remained since the city was called Serdika.

The church of St. Sofia was erected during the reign of Justinian (527-565) and was the most important place of worship of the Bulgarians until the Ottomans converted it into mosques. Alexander Nevski Memorial Church is located near St. Sophia and is another great symbol of the Bulgarian capital. Immediately next to the church is the National Art Gallery, which houses works by world-class artists.

The oldest place of worship in Sofia is St. George’s Church. It was built in the 6th century by Constantine the Great. Nearby is the Banya Bashi Mosque, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. Not far from the mosque is a synagogue that houses a museum of Jewish culture and civilization in Bulgaria. There are not many European cities that have as many mosques, churches and synagogues as Sofia.

Other points of interest in the city are the Lion’s Bridge, the Eagle’s Bridge, the Monument of the Russian Soldier and of course the Monument of Vasil Levski, one of the greatest heroes of the Bulgarians, who fought in the 19th century to free his country from the Ottoman yoke.

Not far away, we can visit the Parliament in front of which is erected the Monument of the Russian Liberator, seated here in honor of the Russian Tsar Alexander the Second, who contributed substantially (with the help of the Romanian troops who fought in Bulgaria in 1877) to the liberation of the Bulgarians under the Ottoman regime.

The surroundings of Sofia should not be forgotten, because here, in the Vitosha, Lozen and Stara Planina Mountains, there are numerous monasteries that are grouped in the so-called Holy Mountain of Sofia, a large monastic complex that played a very important role in preserving the spiritual heritage of the Bulgarian people [bibliography 3].

Bibliography:

“Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, σοφός.” www.perseus.tufts.edu accessed October 17, 2019
Wikipedia, available online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofia accessed October 17, 2019
Discover Travel, available online at http://travel.descopera.ro/12632487-Sofia-frumoasa-capitala-a-vecinilor-nostri accessed October 17, 2019

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