The Capital of Bulgaria and largest city.
Sofia- София(bg) is the capital and largest city in Bulgaria. Sofia is located at the foot of Mount Vitosha in the western part of the country. It occupies a strategic position at the center of the Balkan Peninsula. Sofia’s history spans 2,400 years. Its ancient name Serdica derives from the local Celtic tribe of the serdi who established the town in the 5th century BC. It remained a relatively small settlement until 1879, when it was declared the capital of Bulgaria.
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 mountains on all sides. The valley has an average altitude of 550 meters (1,800 ft). Three mountain passes lead to the city, which have been key roads since antiquity, connecting the Adriatic Sea and Central Europe with the Black and Aegean Seas. Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica, or Sardica, possibly named after the Celtic tribe Serdi.For a short period during the 4th century BC, the city was ruled by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. Around BC 29, Serdica was conquered by the Romans. It became a municipium, or centre of an administrative region, during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98–117) and was renamed Ulpia Serdica. It seems that the first written mention of Serdica was made by Ptolemy (around 100 AD). Serdica (Sardica) expanded, as turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a civic basilica, an amphitheatre, the City Council (Boulé), a large forum, a big circus (theater), etc. were built. In the 2nd century AD, it was administrative centre of Roman Moesia. In the 3rd century, it was the capital of Dacia Aureliana,and when Emperor Diocletian divided the province of Dacia into Dacia Ripensis (at the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of the latter. The city subsequently expanded for a century and a half, it became a significant political and economical center, more-so — it became one of the first Roman cities where Christianity was recognized as an official religion (under Gallerias). In 343 AD, the Council of Sardica was held in the city, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sophia was later built. The city was destroyed in the 447 invasion of the Huns. It was rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and for a while called Triaditsa or Sredets by the Slavonic tribes. During the reign of Justinian it flourished, being surrounded with great fortress walls whose remnants can still be seen today Sofia concentrates the majority of Bulgaria’s leading performing arts troupes. Theater is by far the most popular form of performing art, and theatrical venues are among the most visited, second only to cinemas. The oldest such institution is the Ivan Vazov National Theater, which performs mainly classical plays and is situated in the very center of the city. A large number of smaller theaters, such as the Sfumato Theatrical Workshop, show both classical and modern plays. The National Opera and Ballet is a combined opera and ballet collective, established in 1891. However, it did not begin performances on a regular basis until 1909. Some of Bulgaria’s most famous operatic singers, such as Nicolai Ghiaurov and Ghena Dimitrova, have made their first appearances on the stage of the National Opera and Ballet. Bulgaria Hall and Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture regularly hold classical concerts, performed both by foreign orchestras and the Sofia Philharmonic. The city has played host to many world-famous musical acts including AC/DC, Sting, Elton John, Madonna, George Michael, Metallica, Tiesto, Kylie Minogue, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Rihanna, Roxette and Lady Gaga. Sofia is the economic heart of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country, as well as the Bulgarian National Bank and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. With a GDP (PPP) per capita of $30,534, a nominal of $15,757 and a PPS GDP per capita of the city and its surrounding Yugozapaden planning region of $24,647 in 2009, the capital is the centre of the national economy. This places Sofia’s GDP (PPP) per capita at 103% of the EU average, well above the country’s average of 44%. In 2008, the average per ca-pita annual income was 4,572 leva ($3,479). The strongest sectors of the city’s economy in terms of annual production are manufacturing ($5.5 bln.), metallurgy ($1.84 bln.), electricity, gas and water supply ($1.6 bln.) and food and beverages ($778 mln.).