Becoming Sofia: 7000 years of the Bulgarian Capital hanging at the Crossroads


By Tushar Agarwal

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“Brush up on your Cyrillic beforehand, because Sofia tends to charm its visitors into lingering here indefinitely,” – Stephanie Craig

As the sun lazily painted the cityscape with golden hues, we found ourselves wandering the cobbled streets of Sofia, a city that whispers tales from a medley of eras. With every step, the echoes of the Silk Route and the shadows of Roman conquerors embraced us, reminding us of Sofia’s rich history. It’s as if the city itself is a storyteller, weaving threads from its Communist, Roman, and Christian past.

Sofia, a settlement, modest and full of life, has always been standing on the crossroads of empires. To the Romans, it was “Serdiika,” but the Byzantines felt compelled to leave their mark, christening it “Triaditsa,” as if weaving their very essence into its streets.

Then came the Ottomans, who decided to rename it “Sofya”, and the name seemed to echo through time.

But with time, meaning years and years of waiting, the city embraced its true identity, finally becoming “Sofia”

This name resonates with the city’s heartbeat, etching its story into the very stones beneath our feet.

As we walked the alleyways, it was as if we were coming across the echoes of Serdiika, Triaditsa, and Sofya, all woven into one lively city, that we were falling in love with, at every turn.

Maria, our guide led us through the heart of the city, where Ivan Vasov theatre and the enchanting St. Nicholas church stood, beckoning us into their history. And then, in the heart of it all, stood a mighty statue towering over her as she spoke.  “Czar Alexander Nevsky, protector of Russia, fought valiantly to shield his land from invaders,” Maria’s voice held the weight of centuries. “His bravery, his duty to the Russian church, all enshrined within this impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.”

A hushed reverence hung in the air, as she told us about the bone from the saint’s body that rested there. It made sense that it was a place of pilgrimage within Orthodox Christianity. 

Maria’s voice shifted, recounting the shadowed pages of history. “Bulgaria, once an ally of the Nazis, resisted Hitler’s command, saving some of their Jewish people. Their legacy, a beacon of light amid the darkness of WWII.” The city bore the scars of those tumultuous times, yet from the wreckage emerged modern architecture mingling with pre-WWII structures, which is what makes Sofia’s very existence contrasting yet fascinating. 

Amidst these tales, our footsteps led us to Shtastliveca, nestled on Vitosha Boulevard. The restaurant’s art-covered walls showcased Bulgaria’s essence – landscapes, flowers, and everyday snippets. We treated ourselves to plates filled with beetroot and lentil kebabs, Patatki, and Beef Carpaccio. The ambiance, service, and lip-smacking food made it an instant favorite.

The day was drawing to a close, with our clocks ticking 11, leaving us eager for the mysteries Serbia held beyond its borders. And so, with the night embracing us like an old friend, we retreated to our hotel, ready for all the wonders that awaited on the next stop along the road to London

Video blog of a day in Sofia

Published On: 30th August 2022

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