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The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia is situated in the western-central part of the country, 55 km from the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border . It lies in a fertile basin formed by the Iskur River, 555 meters above sea-level. The city is rich with historical buildings, some dating from the fourth century AD.
Among the major attractions of Sofia is the domed Alexander Nevski Cathedral, built in memory of Russian patriots who liberated Bulgaria in 1877-1878, and the mausoleum of the country's first communist statesman, Georgi Dimitrov. There are many technical educational institutions and colleges of music and arts including the Bulgarian Academy of Science and the University of Sofia, founded in 1888. The chief industries are food processing, textiles, engineering, furniture, chemicals and rubber goods.
Sofia, known during Roman times as Sardica, flourished in the second to fourth centuries AD. In the sixth century the country was annexed to the Byzantine empire and was renamed Triaditsa. It became part of the first Bulgarian empire from 809 to 1018. It was under Byzantine control until1186 when it was retaken by the Bulgars who called the city Sredets. In 1376 it was renamed Sofia.
In 1382 the city was captured by Turks who ruled for nearly 500 years. In 1878 Russian forces liberated Bulgaria and a constituent assembly in 1879 chose Sofia as the capital. Bulgaria was liberated from the Germans in 1944 when Soviet troops invaded and a communist government gradually assumed total control.