Sofia

Sofia  (sofee ´a ), the capital since 1878 of Bulgaria, stands in a broad valley of the Balkans, on the railway from Constantinople to Belgrade and Vienna. It lies two hundred and six miles northwest of Belgrade, while Constantinople lies three hundred miles southeast. The valley at Sofia is an upland plateau, seventeen hundred feet above sea level, and near the heart of the peninsula, between the Vitosha Mountains and the main Balkan chain. At the end of almost every vista in the city are the distant hill masses, and fringing mountains.

The city early became important as a trade center, and probably would have developed into one of the great cities of Europe had not periodical destruction, almost continual dangers of war, and centuries of misrule held it back.

The rebuilding of Sofia began around 1880. It now has many creditable public buildings, electric lighting, an electric street railway and good sewerage and water systems.

It possesses the largest theater in southeastern Europe. The Bulgarian National Theater, with a competent corps of actors and singers, and offering the best in opera and drama, is a revelation of the strides that have been made in the Balkans since the Turks were driven back a brief generation ago. The theater is a handsome modern structure, planned with greater luxury of detail than most buildings in Sofia, and it cost four hundred thousand dollars.

Sofia has a public bathhouse which is one of the finest buildings of its kind in the world. It was built over a hot mineral spring, famed since the days of the Romans. This building, in Byzantine style, including in its interior appointments all of the most modern luxuries, cost the Bulgarians six hundred thousand dollars.

Their capital city is one of the peculiar prides of the hard-working, long-enduring, persistent Bulgarians. It typifies to them the promise of a great Bulgarian future, and they also look upon it as an earnest of their right to a respected place among the civilized nations of the West.