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Sofia through the Centuries

Founded seven thousand years ago, Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe. It has been given several names in the course of history and the remnants of the old cities can still be seen today.

Serdika was the name of the central dwelling of the ancient Thracian tribe known as “Serdi”. It bore that name when it became part of the Bulgarian state at the beginning of the ninth century and was soon recognised as one of the most important feudal towns, acquiring the Slavic name Sredets.

Near Sofia lies Boyana church, which is one of the most valuable memorials of Bulgarian and European culture. The church boasts frescoes, acclaimed by specialists as “the best examples of eastern mediaeval art during its twelve century history”.

The decline of Sofia during the Ottoman Empire was followed by the rejuvenation after the liberation in 1879, when Sofia was chosen as the capital of Bulgaria at the First National Constituent Assembly. The plans of 1881-1882 were followed by a brisk and straight-forward period of construction.

In 1900 the City Council approved the emblem of Sofia and the motto “It Grows but Does not Age”.

During the years of the totalitarian regime (9 September 1944 - 10 November 1989) Sofia became the major national economic, academic and cultural centre. From its years of socialist growth, however, the capital inherited a great deal of problems, which are at present the priorities of the democratically - elected council of Sofia.

In 1992, in honour of the celebration of St. Sofia the Martyr, the Government chose September 17th as the Day of Sofia. The flag of Sofia Municipality was also consecrated on that day.

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