of Sofia was named in the 14th century after the basilica St. Sofia. In Greek, word sofia means wisdom. Sofia was named the capital in March 1879.
Sofia's development as a significant settlement owes much to its central position in the Balkans. It is situated in western Bulgaria, at the northern foot of the Vitosha mountain, in the Sofia Valley that is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
Since ancient times the city was famous for the abudance of cold and thermal mineral water springs in and around it. The water is still available today and is praised for its numerous qualities. Springs may be found in the city center, as well as in the neighbourhoods: Kniazevo, Gorna Bania, Bankia, Ovcha Kupel and Ivaniane.
Historic landmarks include the 10th-century Boyana Church (one of the UNESCO World Heritage protected sites), the Alexander Nevski Cathedral (one of the world's largest Orthodox churches), and the early Byzantine Church of St Sophia. More modern architecture is represented by the Bulgarian National Opera and Ballet, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the Rakovski Str theatre district, Slaveykov Square's outdoor book market, and the NDK, which is Southeastern Europe's largest cultural and congressional centre.
The city also offers many places of special interest such as the Sts. Cyril and Methodius National Library (which houses the largest national book collection and is Bulgaria's oldest cultural institute), the Sofia State Library, the British Council, the Russian Cultural Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Hungarian Institute, the Czech and the Slovak Cultural Institutes, the Italian Cultural Institute, the French Cultural Institute, Goethe Institut, Instituto Cervantes, Open Society Institute, along with Sofia Land, the nearly nine-acre amusement park adjacent to the Sofia Zoological Garden founded in 1888.
Sofia currently enjoys a booming film industry as it is the filming ground of several international film productions. Vitosha Boulevard, also called Vitoshka — ranked as the world's 22nd most expensive commercial street — represents numerous fashion boutiques and luxury goods stores and features exhibitions by world fashion designers. Sofia's geographic location, situated in the foothills of the weekend retreat Vitosha mountain, further adds to the city's specific atmosphere.