Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria  -Europe

Picture by wiki

By Milena Alexova

Every city has its own beautiful and exciting history. We will introduce to you the sides of the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia. It is the largest city in Bulgaria and its motto is “Grows but does not age.” The city has a 7000 year history. Therefore, a unique mix of cultural layers, including all peoples who left their mark on this land - by the Thracian tribe Serds in Macedonians under Philip II and Alexander the Macedonian, Roman Trajan, Attila's Huns, the Bulgars of Khan Krum Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottomans temporary Russian rulers Battenberg monarchs, Ferdinand and Boris, the Nazis and the communist government, until today.
For cultural sightseeing, we shall begin with presenting you one of the oldest churches in Bulgaria – the church “St Sofia”. It is built in the IVth century. The city is carrying its name, because during the XIVth century it was very popular. Side of the church you can find the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and the grave of Ivan Vazov – classic poet and writer. “St Sofia” depicts the coat of arms of the city.
Built in 1906 by Viennese architects in neoclassical style, is the National Theatre ‘Ivan Vazov.’ It is the biggest theatre in Bulgaria and is also an architectural symbol of Sofia. It has an impressive facade is six columns supporting a triangular pediment on which depicts Apollo with the Muses of the arts. Moreover, it goes under the name of the famous Bulgarian poet and writer who we already introduced - Ivan Vazov.
Another influential building in Sofia is the National Art Gallery which is very close to the National Theatre ‘Ivan Vazov.’ The National Gallery is created in 1948. It is situated in part of the former princely palace of Alexander Battenberg. It is made in order to exhibit the most valuable works of Bulgarian artists and sculptors.
If you are a booklover, the right place for you to visit it Square ‘Slavejkov.’ This is an open bookstore where you can find everything - from books and textbooks to CD's and video games. It is named after the Bulgarian writer, journalist and politician Petko Racho Slavejkov.
Last but not least are the museums. There is a wide variety of museums depending on what your preferences are. For example, you can visit the National Museum of Military History – a military, research and educational institute; the National Museum ‘Earth and Man’ – a mineralogical museum with over 20 000 exhibited crystals and minerals from all over the world; National Anthropological Museum where you can find many reconstructed images of
people who lived on Bulgarian land in different historical periods; National Museum of History – the biggest museum in Bulgaria; or Museum of the History of Physical Culture and Sports which consists of donations from famous Bulgarian athletes and sports figures. We are going to focus on the National Museum of History. It is one of the richest and most interesting museums on the Balkans. It keeps thousands monuments of Bulgarian heritage from prehistory to the present. It exhibits the Panaguyrian treasure from fourth century BC.
Besides cultural sights, Sofia has a diversified nightlife. It can be said to be one of those cities that never sleep.  There is always a place to go out with your friends, your soul mate, or even alone! A big part of the Bulgarian nightlife is chalga music, which is considered to be typical Bulgarian music, similar to Greek and Serbian rhythms, sometimes even reggaeton. Two of the most famous discos in Sofia, which usually play this type of music, are called Sin City and Night Flight. They are both situated in the city center and are easily reached by any type of transportation, even by foot. A big range of the popular chalga (or pop-folk) singers perform there often.
Clubs with other types of music are also available. For example, one of the highly ranked clubs in Sofia is called Yalta Club. You can go there if your type of music is house, techno, electro etc. Worldwide known DJs perform there on a regular basis, such as Mark Knight, Fedde le Grand, Roger Sanchez, Axwell, Sharam, and so on. It is expensive compared to other Bulgarian clubs when a DJ like the aforementioned plays, but it is relatively good-priced, even cheap, when you compare it to other European countries. Discos with similar types of music are Chervilo and Bedroom, also located at the city center. Lastly, there are clubs with hip-hop music such as Sugar club or Jim Beam, together with live music clubs, karaoke bars, jazz, retro, etc.
Sofia is alive not only during the night, but also during the day! Bulgarians love to go out and walk around or sit down for a chat in the local cafés all over the city center, unlike people in most of the Western European countries. A good suggestion to go around the city and just spend the day with someone or alone, doing nothing in particular, is to go to the biggest shopping street – Vitosha Boulevard. Vitosha Boulevard extends from the South Park in Sofia, to the church ‘Sveta Nedelya’ (which translates to ‘Holy Sudnay’) – an Orthodox Church dedicated to the Holy Martyr Sunday. The fun part starts right after the National Palace of Culture, going in the direction of the church. Meanwhile, passing by the National Palace of Culture and the big square with fountains in front of it, you shall know that it is a national cultural center for conferences, exhibitions and special events, the largest convention center in South East Europe. If the weather is good, many people can be found to spend a big part of their day there.
Vitosha Boulevard is the perfect place to be if you want to do some shopping, grab a bite or have a cup of coffee. It is a pedestrian street, where trams used to go, now reconstructed and with free Wi-Fi available along the whole boulevard. Along the sides are many shops of famous brands, pharmacies, night shops, a lot of cafés and restaurants. There is also an erotic bar near the end of it, supermarkets, a casino and a few bars and discos along it. Not only that, but in the numerous side alleys, there are more of these entertainment places, which makes your walk even more exciting. Therefore, we can say that Vitosha Boulevard can give you everything you need during any time of the day.
Last but not least, we are going to talk about transportation in Sofia. The most impressive public transport are the trams, as it can be said that they are not existent in many other countries. They carry you to a big part of the city neighborhoods. If it happens that there is no tram near where you are staying, there is always a bus or the newly build underground, which can take you to almost any point you like.
There are taxis available everywhere, they circulate around the city all the time and compared to West Europe, they are at the very cheap end. From one end of the city to another, with traffic, costs nearly 20 leva which converted to euros is around 10 euros. Tourists and foreign people are suggested to be careful with what taxi company they pick because usually taxis at the airport put ridiculously high prices for the normal standard in Sofia. Moreover, the fact that you are a foreigner will encourage them to scam you without you knowing it. Furthermore, there are fake companies whose taxis circulate around the city and have different starting price or price per kilometer, or have apparatus for modifying the mileage or minutes, leading to a false increase of the tariff and thus the final price. Look carefully at the tariffs displayed on the windows!
Sofia is a nice and culturally enriched city. It is always ready to greet young and old, black and white, happy and sad people from all over the world. It will make your stay pleasant and will have enough sights for you to see, visit and admire. The capital will shower you with historical, cultural, entertaining, fun, educational and interesting information. It is your task to come and visit.


  1. This is quite a concise but informative review of the historical and cultural background and sights of Sofia.

  2. any advice on how to get a taxi in Sofia, any scams going on in Sofia? do they have UBER or Lift in Sofia?
    any feedback?
    thx, I ' ll see you in Sofia soon