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Sofia, Bulgaria
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    (circa 700 BC- )
    Capital and largest city of Bulgaria
    Area: 1.349 km²
    Population: 2,450,000 (2010)
    Known as Serdica by the ancient Greeks and Romans
    Named after the Hagia Sophia Church in its own vicinity
    When pronouncing its name, foreigners tend to put the stress on the ‘i’ while Bulgarians tend to put the stress on the ‘o’.
    Thunderstorms are common during summer.
    There is only one surviving Ottoman-era mosque, the Banya Bashi Mosque.
    Most of its streets are in bad shape.
    Traffic and air pollution are major problems.
    It was destroyed by the Huns (447).
    In an attempt to spark a communist revolution in Bulgaria, communists blew up the roof of St. Nedelya Church, killing 150 people and injuring over 500 (April 16, 1925).
    It was bombed by the Allies during World War II because of Bulgaria’s allegiance with the Axis (1943-1944).
    Its motto is ‘Growing but not Getting Old’.
    It is one of only three capital cities where a synagogue and a mosque are located next to each other (the other two are Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Paramaribo, Suriname).
    It has many mineral springs, which in turn resulted in many spa resorts being built there in the 60s.
    It witnessed calmer anti-communist revolutions compared to Gdansk and Prague during the last years of the Cold War.
    It has many churches built in the Byzantine or neo-Byzantine style.
    The Sofia Synagogue is one of the largest synagogues in Europe.
    The Banya Bashi Mosque is one of Europe’s oldest mosques.
    Taxi is a popular means of transport due to low fares in Bulgaria compared to other European countries.

Credit: Big Lenny

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