A bit of background on this year’s Junior Eurovision host city and country…
By
Nick Bhasin

12 Nov 2015 - 4:56 PM  UPDATED 12 Nov 2015 - 4:57 PM

Sure, it’s serving as the location of a very exciting singing contest, but Sofia, Bulgaria is also a beautiful city rich in history. But we realise that a lot of Junior Eurovision fans might not know much about the place.

So we’ve put together a list of answers to commonly asked questions to give you a fuller picture of what Bella Paige is in for when she flies out for the competition…

 

Sorry, where is Bulgaria again?

No need to apologise. And well done for not being too embarrassed to ask what a lot of people might be thinking.

Bulgaria is located in the Balkan Peninsula which is named after the mountain group – Balkan Mountains. The mountain is crossing the country from West to the East and is dividing it into two geographical parts – the flat Northern country and the hilly Southern region. The Bulgarian name of the mountain is Stara Planina (Old Mountain).

What do the Balkan Mountains look like?

They look pretty much like this:

Gorgeous! Now, when did Bulgaria get its start as a country?

A while ago.

The first Bulgarian state dates back to 681 when Bulgar tribes moved south across the Danube and established their capital at Pliska. The Bulgars gradually mixed up with the local Slavic population, adopting a common language on the basis of the Slavic dialect.

Approximately 200 years later, Bulgaria adopted Orthodox Christianity. The Cyrillic alphabet was developed and introduced.

Can you hit me with some quick facts and figures about Bulgaria?

Absolutely.

  • The population of Bulgaria is around 7,364,570 – making it the 98th biggest country in the world
  • Sofia, the capital city, is home to just under 1.3 million people
  • Bulgaria joined the European Union on 1 January 2007
  • The official currency of Bulgaria is the Lev (plural: Leva)
  • The coastal resorts of Golden Sands and Sunny Beach, together with winter resorts Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets, are some of the most visited places in the country by tourists

So what can you tell me about Sofia?

Sofia is vibrant, modern, green and people- friendly. It has 26 centuries of history – from the Thracians through the Romans, it was a fortress town during the Middle Ages and has been the capital of Bulgaria since the late 19th century. With a population of around 1.3 million people, Sofia is the biggest city in Bulgaria.

It is located at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain, which means you are 20 minutes away from ski runs at winter, and a good hiking route in the summer.

It has a rich cultural life in all seasons - lot of theatre, music, concerts, opera, museums and galleries. It has a vibrant nightlife with a lot of good clubs and affordable quality restaurants.

Where did the name Sofia come from?

Another great question.

Due to its strategic position, Sofia has had many names since it was originally settle by a Celtic tribe as “Serdica” in the fifth century BC. The name Serdica/ Sardica was popular in Latin, Ancient Greek and Byzantine Greek sources from Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Another of Sofia's names, Triaditsa was mentioned in Greek medieval sources. The Bulgarian name Sredets appeared in the 11th-century Vision of Daniel and was widely used in the Middle Ages.

The current name Sofia was first used in the 14th-century Vitosha Charter of Bulgarian tsar Ivan Shishman referring to an ancient church in the city named after the Christian concept of the Holy Wisdom. Although Sredets remained in use until the late 18th century, Sofia gradually overcame the Slavic name in popularity.

During the Ottoman rule it was called Sofya.

Great. But how do you pronounce it?

The city's name is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the “o”, in contrast with the tendency of non-Bulgarians to place the stress on “i”. The female given name "Sofia" is pronounced by Bulgarians with a stress on the “i”.

What is there to see in Sofia?

Oh, there’s quite a bit to see…

Orthodox Cathedral “St Alexander Nevsky”

National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”

National Palace of Culture

The Eagles Bridge (Orlov most)

The Russian Church

Borisova gradina

Archaeological museum

Thanks for all of that. Very helpful.

You're welcome.

Make sure you go to www.sbs.com.au/junioreurovision for all Junior Eurovision news, interviews, behind the scenes pics and to follow Bella’s journey in Bulgaria.