As mentioned in my first post about Sofia, the city was originally called Serdica. It lay on a much trafficked trading route between Istanbul and Germanic Europe. A church, on what was the western edge of the city would be visible to travellers signalling their proximity to the city in which they could rest. The church site is now quite central, the city having grown around it.
The church is devoted to St Sophia and legend has it that travellers would exclaim ‘There’s Sophia’ in reference to the church, which was later applied to the whole city. The church doesn’t have a tower in which to have a bell, so the bell has been raised in this tree alongside the church from where it is still rung.
St Sophia was an early christian martyr, who with her three daughters, Faith, Hope and Charity was killed by a Roman emperor. A recent statue of Sophia doesn’t really exude this martyrdom.
The importance of the church is demonstrated by its featuring on the coat of arms of the city. The earlier history of Serdica is represented by the profile image taken from a Roman coin, its geological placement is shown in the mountain which rises to the north of the city. The fourth quadrant shows Apollo Medicus, to represent the healing springs in the city.
The central shield has a lion rampant, a common symbol on a coat of arms in Bulgaria.