With a long and detailed history, Sofia has many buildings and monuments that put its story through time on display as you walk through the streets. The Eastern Gate dates back to the 4th Century BC, and is the earliest display of the city's rich past. Many churches of different religious backgrounds and eras are to be found within the city walls, all telling the story of past victors and conquering armies. In recent times, it has become a centre of business, with many excellent facilities for conferences and exhibitions to be found that attract thousands of business travellers to Bulgaria's capital each year. It also attracts many tourists who come to see the beautiful architecture and experience the vibrant nightlife of this marvellous city.
Location: The capital of Bulgaria and gateway to Turkey
In the western part of the country and occupying a strategic position at the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, it has always been a place of travellers and trade. Sofia Airport is less than 10 kilometres from the city's economic centre, and provides visitors easy access from many international destinations. Ringed by national road routes, the city's bus and train stations can reach virtually any destination within the country in a few hours.
Business: An excellent choice for business events
With outstanding facilities for exhibitions and conferences in some stunning old buildings, Sofia manages to mix business with pleasure as visitors admire the architecture surrounding them at these events. With over 130 hotels in the city, it can provide accommodation and facilities for any size of venue for the business traveller. For business investors, it is worthwhile knowing that foreign investment amounted to nearly $12 billion from 2007 to 2011 from multinational companies, such as IBM and Siemens.
Culture: Follow the Yellow Brick Road Zhaltite Paveta
Sofia has a wonderful way of getting the visitor to explore the city. A yellow brick road takes you on a tour of the famous landmarks and ensures you will see many of the sights the city has to offer. Starting at the President's offices, it takes you past the Archaeological Museum with its thousands of exhibits, past the former building of the Communist Party, the imposing National Bank, and the Royal Palace. Continuing on this cultural expedition, you will stumble upon the golden domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St Sofia Church (which the city is named after), and through some stunning neoclassical lined streets that contain the nation's foreign embassies. As you finish off your tour, you end up in a wide street that contains restaurants, bars, and cafes where you can rest your weary feet and enjoy a refreshing drink.
Activities: Take time out to relax
After a hard day in the city centre, take a slow walk down to the Borisova gradina, Sofia's largest public park. Here, you can walk amongst the trees, relax in a small café under the shade of a tree, or, if you feel energetic, go for a swim in the Maria Luisa Swimming Pool. Continue your walk to the eastern end of the park and visit the 42-metre high monument to the Communist Party that was built in 1956. Called the 'Mound of Brotherhood', this imposing feature consists of Kalashnikov wielding partisans calling their comrades to arms amidst a set of smiling, communist workers. There are often flowers left at the monument from the older generations who come to pay their respects to past friends and family.