Sofia City

By Alfonso J. DÍAZ

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. The city is located in the West of the country, at the foot of Vitosha Mountain. The city’s landmarks reflect more than 2000 years of history, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet occupation…

In the city center, near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the most visited monuments in Sofia it is possible to visit for free open archeological sites located close to the underground stations. Furthermore, there are countless references of urban architecture of its recent Soviet past, including an open museum dedicated to Socialism. The different neighborhoods surrounding the city center, are still an example of the so-called social architecture, common in communist countries during the sixties and seventies, with grey concrete warrens that tend to be old and dilapidated.

In contrast, among the old buildings, stand up international firms and corporations, malls, supermarket and fast-food restaurant chains. In Sofia, at a traffic light stop, it is usual to see the latest sportive Mercedes model next to an old ‘Gaz’ Russian truck model. It is remarkable to mention the peaceful and non-violent Bulgarian transition and transformation from a communist regime to a democratic political system.

Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Union but Sofia is a vibrant and dynamic city. People are friendly and always ready to help foreigners. Sofia is full of restaurants, bars and cafes, though due to the pandemic (Sofians are not only very respectful and polite in public, but very committed to safety COVID measures), nowadays they can only cater take away food, which is very diverse, cheap and tasty. There are crowded big parks and pedestrian boulevards where you can feel the pulse of the city.

Furthermore, one of the undoubted signs of developed societies and welfare ratios is the possession of a pet, statically considered as a luxury item. Nowadays, Sofia is full of people walking dogs in the street. My first business trip to this Balkan capital took place in 2000. I strongly recall nobody walking dogs. All the contrary, all you could see was packs of stray dogs wandering around.

Reflecting on what I have seen and said above, Sofia (Bulgaria as a whole) entrusts its future to the European Union with the same commitment as they once did to the Soviet Union as part of the Iron Curtain countries.

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