Capital of BulgariaSofia became capital of Bulgaria as recently as 1879, usurping the position from Veliko Tarnovo after six hundred years. Sofia was felt to possess a strategic location and the change of capital marked the end of Bulgaria’s dark ages under Ottoman rule. When it became capital, Sofia was a muddy, underdeveloped town of just 12,000 inhabitants, something akin to a large, open-air market. Writers talk of how the city’s inhabitants attended the first royal ball dressed in woollen socks and baggy Turkish pants.
The city’s historic buildings date from the turn of the century up until the 1930s, when there was a rush to bring the city up to date and turn it into a modern European capital. Evidence has been found that Sofia was inhabited as early as 7000 years ago. Thracian and Roman remains can still be seen dotted around the city: in the underpass in front of the presidency; behind the Military Club, and behind the Sheraton hotel. Sofia’s thermal springs meant that it was always an attractive place for settlement. There are springs in the city center, Gorna Banya, Knyazhevo, Bankya and Ovcha Kupel.