Sofia, the Balkan beauty

2 minutes to read

Are you ready to read about one more "beautiful lady of the Balkans?" Along with Athena, Sofia is also often used as a female name in the Balkans. After visiting this city, you will also consider naming your child Sofia. Sofia (or wisdom) wasn't always the name of this city. The earliest preserved name of today's Sofia was Serdonopolis, latinized as "in Civitas Serdensium". It means the "City of the Chard", and it was named by the Thracian tribe.

Sofia is situated in the central part of the Western Bulgaria, in the Sofia valley, and is surrounded by the mountains Vitosha in the south, Lyulin in the west and Stara Planina in the north. This makes it the fourth highest capital city in Europe. It is built on the four terraces of the Iskar River and its tributaries: Perlovska and Vladayska. In the central part of the city it's possible to find mineral springs! This is one of the main reasons why the construction of the Sofia metro took 30 years. In front of the building of the Historical Museum, there are two fountains with thermal water. The object is actually a Turkish bath from the 16th century.

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Are you ready for more Cyrillic?

One of the biggest obstacles for foreigners in Sofia is like in Skopje, the use of a different alphabet than the Latin one. In this case, it is the Cyrillic one and you can see it all around! The challenge is to find Latin letters around. Slavic people say that this alphabet brings luck. Maybe it's just a marketing trick, but still I don't see why not to believe them and feel lucky while in Sofia.

During the World War II, Bulgarians were on the side of the Germans; however the King Tsar Boris III and the leaders of the Bulgarian Church saved 480,000 Jews from a sure death. Shortly after this, the King Tsar Boris III disappeared mysteriously. This was after meeting with Hitler in 1943. These half a million Jews are maybe the reason why Sofia hosts one of the biggest and prettiest Synagogas in Europe.

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In this city it's difficult to look down, since every pavement of the city is a perfect opportunity for a beautiful Instagram post. The pavement of the city center is a characteristic yellow brick tile, produced somewhere in Hungary, hundred years ago.


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The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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