Sofia - the capital

Founded more than seven millennia ago, today Sofia is an exciting meeting place of history and present. Traces of the life of Thracians and Romans, Proto-Bulgarians and Slavs are woven into the city's busy life today. Some 250 historic, archaelogical and architectural monument have been preserved in the modern capital, the center of the country's political and cultural life, a tourist destination and hospitable venue of major international forums.

Sightseeing tours of Sofia usually start from its center and invariably pass by the remains of the solid fortress walls which protected the city for more than 12 centuries. Here, right in the heart of the city,you can see a part of the eastern city gate of the fortress wall of the former Serdica, dating from the 2nd century.

The oldest and best preserved arhaelogical monument in downtown Sofia is St. George Rotunda - part of a large archaelogical complex, consisting of several buidings and an old Roman street. For more than 16 centuries the Rotunda has been the silent witness of the city life. It is assumed to have been built sometime between the 2nd and 3 rd century and was originally intended as a mausoleum or cultist building. Repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, St.George Rotunda has not been restored to its original 5th century appearance when it was used as a Christian church. 

The second oldest, but most significant building is St. Sophia church which gave the city its name. Specialists highly value this remarkable archaelogical monument, the witness of Serdica's golden age during the 6th century. With its simplicity and stern harmony, the church is a cruciform basilica with a dome and three altars - fully deserves its place in the capital's coat-of-arms.

The St. Alexander Newski cathedral is one of the most spectacular buildings in Sofia. In addition to the splendour of the buiding itself, the cathedral is also famous for its icons and murals, painted by the time's foremost artists. The crypt contains the most valuable collection of Bulgarian icons.

In the suburbs of Boyana is located the most valuable momument of mediaeval Bulgarian architecture and painting - Boyana church. Thrice rebuilt in different times, it is noteworthy for its murals, painted by an unknown artists at the end of the 13th century and stunning with the new humanist trends of the time. A total of 240 human figures are portrayed on the walls of Boyana church and not a single one shows a trace of the sketchiness and mystique typical for the Middle Ages. The church is now a museum and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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