In your holiday in Bulgaria you will appreciate our dramatic mountains, haven-like monasteries, Roman and Byzantine ruins, and the excellent coffee you'll be offered wherever you go!
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Gone are the days when SOFIA resembled a kind of communist Geneva, with fresh wreaths stacked against its monuments and a police force that one could imagine clubbing litterbugs and jaywalkers. The downtown streets and parks are still fairly spruce, but the emergence of free enterprise, with traders hawking goods from pavement stalls and privately owned cafes crammed into alleyways, has given the capital a new vigour. The mixture of chaos and decay which characterizes most of Sofia’s points of arrival makes it an unwelcoming city for first-time visitors, but once you’ve settled in and begun to explore, you’ll find it surprisingly laid-back for a capital city. Though it’s hardly a great European metropolis brimming with fine sights, the place comes into its own on fine spring and summer days, when the downtown streets and their pavement cafes begin to buzz with life. Urban pursuits can be combined with the outdoor recreational possibilities offered by verdant Mount Vitosha, an easily-accessible 12km to the south. Despite occasional concerts and a few discos, entertainment still revolves around the evening promenade or korso, followed by a drink in one of the cafes, bars or beer halls.

The city was founded by a Thracian tribe some 3000 years ago, and various Byzantine ruins attest to its zenith under Constantine (306–337). The Bulgars didn’t arrive on the scene until the ninth century, and with the notable exception of the thirteenth-century Boyana Church, their cultural monuments largely disappeared during the Turkish occupation (1381–1878), of which the sole visible legacy is a couple of stately mosques. Sofia’s finest architecture postdates Bulgaria’s liberation: handsome public buildings and parks, and the magnificent Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral.

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Model Citizens Sofia, Bulgaria -- click here!
A story by Deborah Kirk


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