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Sofia City Guide

Situated on an accessible apparent amidst the Balkan Mountains to the arctic and the Rila Mountains to the south, Sofia, the basic of Bulgaria, stands 550m (1804ft) aloft sea level. Owing to its altitude, the summers are moderately hot and the winters algid and snowy. The burghal is amidst by a sprawling ambit of bleak, Socialist-era block accommodation - a appalling greeting for the first-time visitor. However, accession in the centre reveals the accurate abracadabra of Sofia: a burghal of tree-lined boulevards area East meets West. Mosques angle ancillary by ancillary Byzantine Orthodox churches, while arty authoritative barrio neighbour the aureate works of nineteenth-century Russian and Viennese architects. History is activated by accustomed activity - as locals accommodated for coffee at amphitheater cafés, fast-food kiosks barter adorable Turkish-inspired aliment and a gypsy babe sells flowers on a artery bend while shoppers chain to lath the city's awkward trams and trolley buses.

Although Sofia dates aback to Roman times, it is assuredly the 500 years of Turkish ascendancy (1396-1878) followed by about bisected a aeon of Communism (1944-1990) that accept accustomed the burghal the different flavour it has today. Sofia alone became the basic in 1878, afterward Bulgaria's liberation from the Turks and best of the burghal was planned afterwards that date. Grand boulevards were constructed, acid through the grid-plan abode that had developed up about the oriental nucleus, Ottoman-imposed mosques were broken bottomward as the Orthodox Church was reinstated.

During World War II, Bulgaria became allotment of the Axis and Sofia was after heavily austere in British and American raids. With the abutting of the war in 1944, Russian soldiers took the basic and Bulgaria became allotment of the Eastern Bloc. Under Communist administration, Sofia enjoyed a aeon of accelerated industrialisation: beginning factories and high-rise accommodation blocks grew up to anatomy continued suburbs and the city's citizenry escalated as bags migrated from rural areas.

Although the 1980s saw a aeon of automated decline, the capital industries are the aforementioned now as they were in the 1940s and 50s - machinery, electronics, car assembly, bolt and aliment processing. In 1989, Bulgaria witnessed the abatement of the Berlin Wall and then, in 1990, like abounding neighbouring countries, captivated its aboriginal chargeless elections. In 1991, a beginning autonomous architecture was fatigued up but during the decade that followed bread-and-butter advance was bedfast by political instability, aerial unemployment, hyperinflation and aggressive corruption.

Today, visitors to Sofia will acquisition a archetypal Balkan mix of Orthodox and Muslim cultures amidst a crumbling Eastern Bloc association with an ambiguous future. Mass privatisation has appear duke in duke with a abatement in active standards and, while there is beginning optimism at one end of the scale, there is acute abjection at the other. A adolescent aggressive able will cull up alfresco one of the city's beginning chichi cafés, but beyond the artery a abandoned almsman roots through a dustbin, belted by a accumulation of devious dogs, all acquisitive for a morsel. However, Bulgaria is boring but absolutely accepting bread-and-butter stability: adopted businesses are now acquisitive to advance actuality and the burghal motto, 'Ever growing, never old', is as accurate today as it anytime was.

 

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