Minimize Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The city is located at the foot of Mount Vitosha in the western part of the country. It occupies a strategic position at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula as commercial, manufacturing, transport, and cultural centre.

Sofia is the 15th largest city in the European Union with a population of around 1.3 million people. It has been ranked by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network as a Beta city. Many of the major universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies of Bulgaria are concentrated in Sofia. 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. The valley has an average altitude of 550 metres. Three mountain passes lead to the city, which have been key roads since antiquity, connecting the Adriatic Sea and Central Europe with the Black and Aegean Seas. A number of low rivers cross the city, including the Vladayska and the Perlovska. The Iskar River in its upper course flows near eastern Sofia. The city is known for its 49 mineral and thermal springs. Artificial and dam lakes were built in the twentieth century.

More information is available on Wikipedia

Overlay image (Before and After)

Today we feature the city of Sofia. Founded in the seventh century BC, Sofia is the third oldest capital of Europe (after Athens and Rome). It has had many names throughout its history and the remains of the ancient city are still visible today. Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica or Sardica. It was conquered by Rome in 29 BC and became the capital of the Roman province of Dacia Mediterranean. It was destroyed by the Huns in 447 and then rebuilt by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and renamed Triadiza. The Bulgarians named it Sredets abd it was renamed for the final time to Sofia in 1376. Sofia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1382 and became the capital of the Turkish province of Rumelia. Again conquered by Russia in 1878, it became the capital of an independent Bulgaria in 1879. During the Second World War the Russians occupied Sofia and Bulgaria, deposing the pro-German government until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

These images acquired by the Landsat 5 and 8 satellites have a time window of acquisition (before / after) of thirty years and aim to show the urban difference from 1984 until today. In fact the two images show how the areas around the city have experienced large growths in urban development during this period. Another noticeable indication of growth is the airport located on the right side of the city in this image, which has grown significantly since 1984.

Another aim of these images is to promote the opportunity to download Landsat data through the ESA portals, where images captured every day are made available in near real time to the users and the scientific community.

Landsat full resolution data products are freely available for immediate download at:

Sofia 2014Sofia 1984

View large format slider

View Landsat 5 TM high resolution image (JPG 597 KB)

View Landsat 8 OLI high resolution image (JPG 777 KB)

Technical Information of original image
Product: Geo Tiff format
Satellite/Sensor: Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 8 OLI
Resolution: 30 metres
Coverage: 180 x 180 KM
Acq. Date: 12 September 1984 and 01 October 2014
Band Combination used to create this image: 3, 2, 1 (R-G-B) and 8, 3, 2 (R-G-B) Panchromatic and Visible colour layers
Map of area

Back to top