Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 15th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.2 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.
Prehistoric settlements were excavated in the centre of the present city, near the royal palace, as well as in outer districts Slatina and Obelya. The well-preserved town walls (especially their substructures) date back before the 7th century BC, when Thracians established their city around a mineral spring, which exists to the present day. Sofia has had several names in the different periods of its existence. Its ancient name, Serdika or Serdica, derives from the local Celtic tribe of the serdi who inhabited the region since the 1st century BC. Serdica was a Roman capital during the tetrarchic system of government. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the major commercial centres of the Bulgarian Empire, along with Tarnovo. Sofia’s population remained small until 1879, when it was declared a capital of the Principality of Bulgaria after the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.
Sofia has been ranked by GaWC as a beta- world city. Many of the major universities, cultural institutions, and businesses of Bulgaria are concentrated in Sofia.
Politically, administratively and economically, Bulgaria is a highly centralized state, making Sofia a national administrative unit of its own right. It should not to be confused with Sofia Province, which surrounds but does not include the city itself. Besides the city proper, the 24 districts of Sofia encompass three other towns and 34 villages. Each of them has its own district mayor who is elected in a popular election. The head of the Sofia Municipality is its mayor. The assembly members are chosen every four years. The current mayor of Sofia is Yordanka Fandakova.
The following are some of the most culturally and economically significant districts:
Oborishte is in the very center of the city, where most landmarks and administrative edifices are located. It is known for its predominantly neo-Renaissance and Viennese architecture, extensive green belts and yellow cobblestones.
Sredets neighbours Oborishte and shares some of its specific architecture. It is the site of Borisova gradina (Gardens of Boris) and the Vasil Levski National Stadium.
Vazrazhdane is an economically active district where many trade centres and banks, along with some light industry manufacturing companies, are located. One of its main boulevards is Marie Louise Boulevard, the site of the Central Sofia Market Hall, TZUM and St Nedelya Church.
Mladost is one of the most modern and fast developing areas in Sofia. It’s also one of the largest districts in terms of population (second only to Lyulin) with its 110,000 inhabitants. It is generally poor in landmarks and administrative institutions, but it concentrates the headquarters of numerous domestic and international companies, large-scale department stores, official vehicle dealerships, and Business Park Sofia at its southern end. The architecture is a combination of Socialist-era apartment blocks, industrial enterprises and new buildings, most of which were constructed after 2004. Mladost has excellent transport connections to all remaining districts of Sofia.
Vitosha is located on the foot of Vitosha Mountain. It holds a key location as it is the site where the Sofia ring road and Bulgaria Boulevard cross. Luxury estates and villa complexes dominate in Vitosha district. It has good connections to both the city centre and the nearby mountain resorts. Boyana is the site of the presidential residence, the Nu Boyana Film studios, the National Historical Museum and the Boyana Church.
Useful telephone numbers
0123 – Operator for international calls (if direct recruitment is not possible)
121 – Operator for calls in Bulgaria
179 – Head of the BNB exchange rate of the day
144 – Business Information numbers
145 – Information home phone numbers
146 – Road assistance
150 – Ambulance
166 – Police
160 – Fire
175 – Weather
180 – Time
Links to the region