Sofia was liberated from Turkish rule on 4 January 1878 by Russian military troops under the command of General Gurko. At that time the town’s population was of 11649 citizens. On 3 April 1879, on the proposal of the eminent Bulgarian scholar Prof. Marin Drinov, the Constituent Assembly proclaimed Sofia as a capital of the Principality of Bulgaria. The consideration of the central location of Sofia within the lands populated by ethnic Bulgarians gained ground in favor of this choice. Today approximately 1,247,000 people, not counting the temporary residents, live in the Bulgarian capital.
Symbols of the Capital
Coat of Arms and Motto The city coat of arms of Sofia was designed in 1900 by the decorative painter Haralampi Tachev on the occasion of the World Exhibition held in Paris. It is in the shape of a shield separated in four fields. In the upper left field the feminine allegory of Ulpia Serdica is depicted (the heraldic image being an elaboration based on the portrait of the Roman Empress Julia Domna on an antique coin); in the upper right field the St Sophia Church is depicted; in the down left field – the silhouette of Mount Vitosha; and in the down right – antique pavilion temple containing the statue of Apollo Medicus, the patron-god of the mineral springs in Sofia. In the shield’s center a tiny lion is added which was copied from the depiction on a small medallion excavated in the mediaeval capital of Veliko Tarnovo; this serves to mark the continuity between the old and the newly chosen capital of Bulgaria.
In 1911 the motto reading ‘Grows up but doesn’t grow old’ was appended to the coat of arms. The name of the capital – Sofia – means ‘Holy Wisdom’, a term derived from the Solomon’s Book of Proverbs in the Bible’s Old Testament.
Sofia is the seat of the state governmental authorities. The buildings of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the President’s Office are situated in it.