143 years since the Proclamation of Sofia as the Capital of Bulgaria

Society | April 3, 2022, Sunday // 13:47
Bulgaria: 143 years since the Proclamation of Sofia as the Capital of Bulgaria Photo @Andrey Hadjivasilev - blog.hadjivasilev.com

On April 3, 2022, we celebrate 143 years since the declaration of Sofia as the capital of Bulgaria. This historic decision was made by the Constituent Assembly of the Principality of Bulgaria at the suggestion of Prof. Marin Drinov.

The date 22.III / 03.IV.1879 remains forever in the history of Sofia.

The Constituent Assembly in Tarnovo proclaimed the city the capital of the Third Bulgarian State.

All factors of geographical, strategic, communication nature, making the city unique among other Bulgarian settlements, were taken into account when choosing a capital after the Liberation.

In the first months after the Liberation, Marin Drinov, a vice-governor of Sofia and head of the Department of Public Education under the Provisional Russian Government, developed a comprehensive socio-political activity. Historian, scientist and public figure, he was the first to argue his view that Sofia should become the capital of the new state.

Most of the prominent figures agree with him: Dragan Tsankov, Grigor Nachevich, Marko Balabanov and others. Subsequently, the issue of choosing a capital was raised for discussion in the Constituent Assembly. Contemporaries point out that the discussion was short.

The end was set by Dragan Tsankov. In his speech, he stressed that Bulgaria has two capitals - the historic Tarnovo and Sofia, where the government is situated. For this reason, he proposed that Sofia remain the residence of the Prince in the future and that his coronation take place in Tarnovo.

The proposal was adopted by a vote. In this way the continuity between the medieval Bulgarian kingdoms and the Third Bulgarian State was demonstrated.

About a decade later, Sofia acquired its own authentic coat of arms.

The design of the coat of arms, whose original is in the permanent exhibition of the Regional History Museum - Sofia, is by the artist Haralampi Tachev. It was created on the occasion of the World's Fair in Paris (France) in 1900 to be placed in the ceremonial hall of the forum. The project was personally approved by Prince Ferdinand, who is a prominent connoisseur of heraldic art.

The coat of arms is in the form of a shield, divided into four fields, which contain symbols related to the city and its history. In the upper left field is depicted the city goddess Ulpia Serdica.

The image is taken from an ancient coin minted in Serdica during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus and his wife Julia Domna. In the upper-right field is the Basilica of St. Sophia, which gives the current name of the city.

In the lower-left field is Vitosha Mountain - a centuries-old witness to all historical vicissitudes. In the lower right field is the temple of Apollo Medicus with a statue of the deity. This plot is also taken from an ancient Serdica coin minted during the reign of Emperor Caracalla. Apollo Medicus is one of the health deities worshiped in Serdica, then known for its healing mineral springs.

In the center of the shield is a smaller shield with an image of a lion, which was copied from a medallion found during archeological excavations in the old capital Veliko Tarnovo. It symbolizes the continuity between the two cities as capitals of Bulgaria. And above the shield is a fortress crown.

Initially, the coat of arms included only the fortress crown. In 1911, at the suggestion of Assistant Mayor Radi Radev, the motto „Grows but does not grow old” (“Расте, но не старее”) was added to the coat of arms, and in 1928 - laurel branches on both sides of the shield.

With the support of Sofia Municipality on the occasion of the holiday will be opened two exhibitions. This is the exhibition “The New Life of the Old Sofia Buildings”, which will be on view until April 14 at the Open-Air Gallery in the Crystal Garden. The exhibition contains shots of 27 restored buildings in Sofia, which have preserved the historical roots and cultural heritage of the city, the work of journalist Mitko Popov.

The other exhibition features 24 photographs by photojournalist Yordan Simeonov and is “Portrait of Sofia and will be under the glass dome of the Sofia Largo. The main characters are women named Sophia and living in Sofia.

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