What is the Capital City of Bulgaria?

By | May 18, 2024

Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Nestled in the Sofia Valley at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, it is the largest city in Bulgaria and serves as the economic, political, and cultural heart of the country. This comprehensive overview will delve into various aspects of Sofia, including city facts, major landmarks, climate overview, and historical capitals of Bulgaria.

City Facts

  • Area: 492 km²
  • Population: Approximately 1.24 million (2023)
  • Time Zone: Eastern European Time (EET), UTC +2, and Eastern European Summer Time (EEST), UTC +3 during daylight saving time
  • Highest Mountain: Vitosha Mountain, with Cherni Vrah (Black Peak) at 2,290 meters
  • Longest River: Iskar River

Major Landmarks

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of Sofia’s most iconic landmarks. This stunning Orthodox cathedral, completed in 1912, is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky and serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria. It is known for its impressive size, ornate interior, and beautiful golden domes.

Boyana Church

The Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church located on the outskirts of Sofia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved frescoes from the 13th century. These frescoes are considered one of the most important collections of medieval paintings in Eastern Europe.

National Palace of Culture

The National Palace of Culture (NDK) is the largest multifunctional conference and exhibition center in Southeastern Europe. Opened in 1981, it hosts various cultural events, including concerts, exhibitions, and conferences. The building’s modern architecture and central location make it a focal point for cultural life in Sofia.

Vitosha Boulevard

Vitosha Boulevard is Sofia’s main commercial street, lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a vibrant atmosphere and beautiful views of Vitosha Mountain. The boulevard is also known for its elegant architecture and lively nightlife.

Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

Founded in 1888, Sofia University is the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria. The university’s main building, located in the city center, is an architectural landmark. It is known for its academic excellence and historical significance.

Climate Overview

Sofia experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by four distinct seasons. Winters are cold and snowy, while summers are warm and sunny. The city’s location in a valley surrounded by mountains influences its weather patterns.

Average Monthly Climate Data

Month Average Temperature (°C) Average Precipitation (mm) Average Sunny Days
January -1.0 35 10
February 1.5 32 11
March 5.7 38 12
April 11.1 45 15
May 16.0 70 16
June 19.7 75 18
July 22.2 60 22
August 22.0 55 22
September 17.6 45 18
October 11.8 40 16
November 5.4 45 13
December 0.5 40 10

Other Cities as Capitals in Bulgarian History

Pliska (681–893)

Pliska was the first capital of Bulgaria, established shortly after the formation of the Bulgarian state in 681 AD. It served as the political and cultural center during the early years of the First Bulgarian Empire. The city was known for its impressive fortress walls, palaces, and large-scale building projects initiated by the early Bulgarian rulers. Pliska’s significance waned after the capital was moved to Preslav.

Preslav (893–972)

Preslav became the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in 893 AD, under the rule of Tsar Simeon I. It was during Simeon’s reign that Preslav experienced its golden age, becoming a major cultural and literary center. The city was renowned for its beautiful architecture, including the Preslav Fortress and the Golden Church. Preslav’s cultural contributions were significant, with many literary works and religious texts produced in the city.

Veliko Tarnovo (1185–1393)

Veliko Tarnovo served as the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 until its fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1393. The city is famously known as the “City of the Tsars” and was a major political, economic, and cultural hub. Veliko Tarnovo’s strategic location on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, provided natural defenses. The Tsarevets Fortress, which housed the royal palace and the Patriarchal Cathedral, remains a symbol of Bulgarian medieval heritage.

Vidin (1365–1396)

Vidin was briefly the capital of the Vidin Tsardom, a successor state to the Second Bulgarian Empire, during the late 14th century. The city is located on the banks of the Danube River and has a long history dating back to Roman times. Vidin’s role as a capital was short-lived, as it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1396.

Country Facts

  • Population: Approximately 6.9 million (2023)
  • Area: 110,994 km²
  • Largest City: Sofia
  • Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
  • Official Language: Bulgarian
  • ISO Country Codes: BG, BGR

Political Structure

According to all-countries-of-the-world, Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic, with a President serving as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. The National Assembly is the country’s legislative body, responsible for enacting laws and policies.


Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The country’s diverse landscape includes mountains, plains, rivers, and a coastline along the Black Sea.


Bulgaria’s economy is classified as an upper-middle-income economy, with significant contributions from the industrial, service, and agricultural sectors. Key industries include manufacturing, information technology, tourism, and energy.

Culture and Heritage

Bulgaria has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman civilizations. The country is known for its traditional music, dance, and crafts. Bulgarian Orthodox Christianity plays a significant role in the country’s cultural and religious life.

Education and Science

Bulgaria has a well-established education system, with numerous universities and research institutions. Sofia University, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and the Technical University of Sofia are among the leading educational and research centers in the country.


Bulgaria offers a diverse range of tourist attractions, from historical sites and cultural landmarks to natural beauty and recreational activities. Popular destinations include the Black Sea coast, the Rhodope Mountains, and the historical towns of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo.

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