Sofia church

Capital City of Bulgaria: Everything you need to know!

Are you interested in Bulgaria and wondering about the capital city of Bulgaria?

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time now! Bulgaria, a country that has been at the center of many different cultures for thousands of years, is full of history, art, and culture. Sounds like a cool place, right! But what about the capital city of Bulgaria?

Its capital city is the beating heart of Bulgaria, which is both old and new at the same time. As you’re about to find out, this city is much more than just the capital of Bulgaria.

It’s almost like an open-air museum, it’s a thriving city, and a symbol of Bulgaria’s strong will.

Let’s dive in and explore Bulgaria’s capital city!

What is the capital city of Bulgaria?

First things first, what is actually the capital city of Bulgaria? The answer is Sofia! It’s the proud capital of Bulgaria, standing tall and strong in the western part of the country. It’s also the center of government, but its importance goes far beyond that.

Throughout history, Roman processions, Byzantine ceremonies, and Ottoman caravans have all passed through Sofia. It’s a very cool mix of influences.

Capital city of Bulgaria - The Mosk in Sofia
The Mosk in Sofia

The city’s skyline is a mix of different architectural styles, including Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques, and big buildings from the Soviet era.

You could say that every corner of Sofia tells a story about empires that rose and fell, leaders who had big dreams, and everyday people whose lives fit into the bigger picture. That’s why it feels like an open-air museum!

What was the capital of Bulgaria before Sofia?

It’s good to know that Sofia wasn’t always the capital city of Bulgaria as there have been quite some changes throughout history.

Before Sofia became the capital of Bulgaria, there were a number of different centers of power in the early Bulgarian states. This shows how the country’s political and cultural landscape has changed over time.

I can tell you that the First Bulgarian Empire was formed when the Bulgars and the Slavs joined forces at the end of the 7th century. At first, Pliska was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Pliska was not only where the Bulgarian kings lived, but it was also an important place for government and religion. In 864 AD, when Khan Boris I was in charge of Pliska, Bulgaria made Christianity its official religion. This was a very important event in the country’s past.

But Preslav (often called Veliki Preslav) took over as the most important city after Pliska. In the late 9th century, when Tsar Simeon I was in charge, Preslav became the official capital.

Church near Veliki Preslav
Church near Veliki Preslav

This happened during what is often called the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture. Preslav was known for its beautiful architecture and was a lively center for Slavic writing and the arts.

Both Pliska and Preslav played very important parts of Bulgaria’s early history and identity. These former capital cities have set the stage for Sofia to become the country’s main city and capital for a long time now.

Why is Bulgaria’s capital called Sofia?

Sofia is more than just a name. Do you know why? The name of the city comes from the old St. Sofia Church, which has observed and watched the city change for hundreds of years!

Capital city of Bulgaria - St. Sophia Church
St. Sophia Church

In Greek, the word Sofia means wisdom. And this isn’t just a simple coincidence. The city has been a center of learning, faith, and enlightenment, just like the one it was named after.

Its educational institutions, libraries, and art galleries have been places where people go to learn, which all relate to the meaning of the word wisdom.

Capital city of Bulgaria: FAQs

The information below is related to the capital city of Bulgaria and will give you some more great insights!

Is Sofia worth seeing?

Absolutely! It is a city full of history, culture, and has everything you need in modern life. It’s really a mix of the old and the new, with both ancient ruins and modern buildings, as well as both traditional markets and hip bars.

Here’s a more in-depth look at why you should visit Sofia:

  • Rich history: If you’re into history you’ll simply love this city. Sofia’s past is a rich tapestry that goes back thousands of years. Because of this, you’ll find many historical and archeological places all over the city.

    The rich history of Sofia can be seen in places like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is one of the biggest Orthodox cathedrals in the world, and the Rotunda of St. George, which is the oldest building in Sofia and dates back to the Roman era.
Capital city of Bulgaria - Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
  • Cultural diversities: Different empires and cultures have left their mark on Sofia over the years, from the Romans and Byzantines to the Ottomans.

    This mix is clearly visible in the city’s religious buildings, such as mosques, synagogues, and churches, which all live together in peace.
  • Natural beauty: Sofia is located at the base of Mount Vitosha. The city is extremely close to this beautiful mountain, which is great for climbing in the summer and skiing in the winter.

    Parks and green areas in the city, like Borisova Gradina, offer you peaceful escapes right in the middle of the city.
  • Vibrant Nightlife and Food Scene: Sofia has an active nightlife with a wide range of bars, clubs, and other places for you to go out and have fun.

    I can tell you that the city’s food scene is just as interesting, with a great mix of traditional Bulgarian recipes and dishes from around the world. From the filling banitsa to the refreshing tarator, I’m sure you’ll find something tasty!
  • Affordability: You’ll be happy to hear that Sofia is great value for money compared to many other European (capital) cities. You’ll notice that your money goes a lot further here, whether you want to lodge, eat, shop, or simply have a lot of fun.
  • Warm Hospitality: Bulgarians are known for being friendly and welcoming. Talk to people, and they’ll often be happy to tell you stories, tell you about secret gems, and make you feel at home.
  • Cultural Festivals and Events: Sofia has many cultural festivals, art shows, music events, and traditional celebrations all through the year. These events give a unique look into the hearts and minds of the local people.

In my opinion, Sofia is a real gem in the middle of the Balkans that has many different sides.

It’s a city where history, culture, and current life blend together so well that every kind of traveler can find something to enjoy there. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, food, or just have a great adventure, Sofia will give you a unique experience.

Tours in Sofia

I’m happy to tell you that there are many tours for you if you want to learn more about Sofia’s long and interesting history and culture.

I would recommend doing one of the following three tours to get a great experience out of your stay. You can book the tour by clicking on the links below:

Guided Walking Tour Sofia!

Wine Tasting in Heart of Sofia!

3-Hour Private Bulgarian Food Tasting Tour!

These are a mix of tours through Sofia that will definitely make your trip a lot more fun and interesting!

What language do they speak in Sofia Bulgaria?

Bulgarian is the main language spoken in Sofia, and to me, it has a lot of musical sounds. Bulgarian is a Slavic language, so it has sounds that remind people of great stories and folklore.

The Cyrillic script in Bulgaria
The Cyrillic script in Bulgaria

But English is nowadays spoken by many people here. Sofia is a cosmopolitan city and a center for foreign trade and tourism. Many people in Sofia, especially those who work in the service and hospitality industries, speak more than one language.

This makes sure that you, as a tourist, feel right at home. But if you want to know more about this, check out my post about the Bulgarian language!

What food is Sofia famous for?

You can’t fully enjoy a trip to Sofia without trying some of its food! I mean, this is most of the time the best part of visiting new places, right?

The city is a food lover’s dream, with street vendors selling tasty banitsa at dawn and high-end restaurants serving gourmet versions of traditional meals like kavarma.

Bulgarian banitsa
Bulgarian banitsa

Local taverns, called mehanas in Bulgarian, offer you a real experience, often with traditional music and dance, if you’re looking to try something new.

Is Sofia a party city?

Wondering if Sofia is a place for you when you love to party? Well, when the sun goes down, Sofia’s lively nightlife really comes out. There are many different ways to have fun in the city.

There is a wide range of music to choose from, from traditional Bulgarian music in old-fashioned pubs to electronic beats in ultra-modern bars.

The city’s reputation as a great place to party and have fun is also helped by its many music and cultural festivals. The Sofia Dance Week, the Sofia Music Weeks and the Night of Museums and Galleries are some nice examples of this!

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    The Wrap-Up: Capital City of Bulgaria

    In a way, Sofia is a sort of small version of Bulgaria as a whole. It’s a city like an open-air museum, where every building has seen very different empires, and every person has a fascinating history to pass on.

    Sofia is a great example of Bulgaria’s amazing journey, where stories from the past and hopes for the future blend together in a very nice way.

    If your adventures take you to this Balkan gem, Sofia, I would advise you to welcome it with open arms and let its magic wrap you up.

    In case you’re in Bulgaria and looking for other things to do or if you’re into history, check out my post about the best castles in Bulgaria.

    And if you love beer and want to experience a great tour in Sofia, check out my post about Bulgarian beer!

    Your restless voyager,


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