|област София-град – oblast Sofija-grad||district Sofia City|
Sofija (Sofia), the capital of Bulgaria, is situated at an altitude of 595 m on the river Iskăr in the Sofia plain of western Bulgaria. With a population of 1.2 million in the city proper and about 1.7 million in the metropolitan area (2015), Sofia is also the largest city of the country.
Sofia has been an area of continuous human habitation since at least the 8th millennium BC. In 1400–1300 BC the area was populated by the Thracian tribe of Tilataei, followed in the 3rd century BC by the Celtic Serdi. Around 29 BC, it was conquered by the Romans, gradually becoming the most important Roman city of the region under the name Ulpia Serdica. In the 3rd century, it became the capital of Dacia Aureliana, and when this province was divided into Dacia Ripensis (at the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of the latter. Roman emperors Aurelian (215–275) and Galerius (260–311) were from Serdica. The Edict of Toleration by Galerius was issued in 311 in Serdica, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity. The city was destroyed in the 447 invasion of the Huns and the city laid in ruins for a century, but later began to flourish again. The city first became part of the First Bulgarian Empire in 809, wherafter it became an important fortress and the administrative centre of the Sredec (Sredets) province. After the conquest of the old Bulgarian capital Preslav (today Veliki Preslav) in 970/971, the capital was moved to Sredec in the following year. In 1018, the city fell to the Byzantine Empire, but was once again incorporated into the Bulgarian empire in the 12th century. In 1385, Sofia (first mentioned in 1359) was seized by the Ottoman Empire in the course of the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars. Around 1393 it became the seat of newly established Sanjak of Sofia and in the mid-15th century of the Ottoman province of Rumelia. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1778, Sofia was relieved (from Ottoman rule by Russian forces on 4 January 1878. It was proposed as a capital and was accepted as such on 3 April 1879. During World War II, Sofia suffered heavy damages. During the Communist Party rule a number of the city's most emblematic streets and squares were renamed for ideological reasons, with the original names restored after 1989.
The National Theatre (Naroden teatăr "Ivan Vazov")
was founded in 1904. The theatre's Neoclassical building, designed by
famous Viennese theatre architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, was finished in 1906 and opened on 3 January
1907. The building was extensively damaged by a fire in 1923 during an anniversary celebration, but was reconstructed in
1929 by German architect Martin Dülfer. A theatrical school was established as part of the National Theatre in 1925.
The bombing of Sofia in World War II caused considerable damage to the building, but it was reconstructed in 1945.
Further reconstruction and restoration projects followed in 1971–1975 and 2006. The auditorium of the main stage has
a seating capacity of 750 seats, but included in the building are also a smaller 120-seat stage and a 70-seat stage.
Originally named just 'National Theatre', it was named for Bulgarian actor Krăstjo Sarafov in 1952 and finally for
the prominent Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov in 1962. The building's façade is depicted on the obverse of the Bulgarian
50 levs banknote, issued in 1999 and 2006.
(See also list of other buildings by Fellner and Helmer depicted on glasses in this collection.)
Note: The labeling on the picture is in Bulgarian and French. The first line in Bulgarian contains a spelling error:
instead of correctly
The second line in French, Le théâtre de Sophia, spells the city's name with ph
(even uncommon in French) rather than with f.