In the second century AD, the Roman province of Ulpia was established in this region, whose center was the town of Serdica. The Romans habitually settled in places with thermal springs and the hot springs still flow here. This lends credence to the theory that this area was settled long before that time; it is officially accepted that people have lived and worked in Sofia for 5000 years.
After the conquest by the ancient Turkish tribe of the Bulgarians, the city’s name changed to Sredez. Sofia was only called by it present name in 1329 – after the Church of the Holy Sofia (6th century). From 1393 to 1878 the town (as well as the entire country) was part of the Osman empire. The humiliation felt by the Bulgarians over the centuries-long Turkish rule can be appreciated by the fact that only one single edifice exists in Sofia today which is reminiscent of the Osmans: the Banya-Bashi Mosque from the 16th century escaped the architectural ‘purification’ carried out around 1880 in the whole of Sofia after the victory of the Russians over the Turks. The Bulgarian capital was severely damaged in the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt on a large scale.
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