Believe it or not there are quite a few interesting facts about Sofia which not many people know of.
Are you ready? Here we go!
#1 Market “Zhenski Pazar”
Once upon a time the famous market “Zhenski Pazar” was located in front of the Central Sofia Market hall and the Banya Bashi Mosque.
In the past it was also known as “Konski Pazar” (Horse market) and “Zhiten Pazar” (Wheat market)
#2 St.Sofia church
At the end of the 19th century the Fire Department used the building of the St.Sofia church as a watchtower.
Also, the church doesn’t have a bell tower, as the bell is instead handing on a tall, old tree outside the entrance.
Legends say the bell hung on the tree and rang from there after the liberation from Ottoman rule. As a sign of respect to this, the bell is still attached to the tree.
#3 Firs automobile in Sofia
The first automobile was imported in 1896 by August Shedevi, a Czech ironware worker living in Sofia.
It had a steam engine and wooden wheels. However, the automobile broke down after a few uses and was left on the street, from where it quickly disappeared.
#4 First bicycle in Sofia
The first bicycle was imported in Sofia a decade after the Liberation.
Ivan Vazov called it “Devil’s wheel”. Sofia citizens used to call it bicycle, but pronouncing it wrong.
#5 First public park
The first public park was built in front of the Ivan Vazov National Theatre. Today it is known as The City Garden.
#6 First telephone call in Sofia
The first telephone call in Sofia was conducted between two neighboring houses in 1844 by 3 officers – the first ever to pick up a handset.
The call was an exciting event, at which even the Prime Minister – Stefan Stambolov – was present.
#7 First electric bulb in Sofia
The first electric bulb in Sofia was lit in the City Garden.
The occasion was the official baptism of the park ahead of the solemn welcome of Knyaz (Prince) Battenberg in Sofia in 1879.
As a result, 1/3 of the first budget of Sofia as a capital was used for lighting.
#8 Ancient Sofia
Serdica was the favorite city of Byzantine emperor Constantine the Great.
His residence in Ancient Sofia took up a whole neighborhood and was located between the present streets of Kaloyan, Pozitano and Lege, south of the building of the Presidency.
On 9th April 809 AD, Serdica entered the territory of the first Bulgarian state. The city was adjoined by Khan Krum.
During the period of Ottoman rule, Sofia became the birthplace of 9 Christian saints.
#9 Third most populous city
In 1880 Sofia was the third most populous city in the country with a population of 20 501.
The other two cities were Ruse and Plovdiv.
#10 Candidate to host the Winter Olympics
Sofia was a candidate to host the Winter Olympics in 1992, 1994 and 2014. The first time it lost to Albertville with a difference of only 2 votes.
After that, in 1994, it was taken over by Lillehammer and then in 2014 Sofia dropped out after the first round.
#11 First trams in Sofia
The first trams in Sofia started operating on 1st January 1901.
Then the trams had 6 routes with a total length of 23 km. Today the tram system operates a route of 308 km total.
#12 The Sofia Mosque
The Sofia Mosque, known as Banya Bashi, has a hammam – a Turkish bath – using the hot water spring underneath the mosque.
It was built in 1566 by the famed Ottoman architect Sinan.
#13 St.Alexander Nevsky cath
The St.Alexander Nevsky cathedral is one of the biggest orthodox churches in the world.
It’s 45 m high and the bell tower reaches a height of 50.5 m.
#14 The Statue of St. Sofia
The Statue of St. Sofia which is erected in the city centre was not baptized by the church officials as it was deemed inconsistent with the cannon.