Biography of Sofia: History Studies

Zheleva-Martins, Dobrina,


Sofia, Prostranstvo I Forma Publishing House, 2006, 263 pages, 123 figures

The book analyzes various periods of the 8,000-year biography of the Bulgarian capital city. It is the product of a holistic approach with interdisciplinary analyses from various perspectives aimed at producing a stereo shot of the historical evolution of the city.

Comprising 15 articles published in various Bulgarian and foreign scientific publications – on architecture, urban development, history, social science, Balkan studies, folklore, cultural studies and others, the book offers diverse aspects of the cultural history – and more specifically the architectural and spatial planning history – of the city. For example, the topogenesis and settlement to the general and specific trends within the context of the development of all Balkan capitals; early planning at the end of the 19th century to the first spatial plan in the 1940s; the visual identity of the city after the Liberation, tracking down of lost maps, plans, shots, drawings and other graphic traces, to the social inequalities predetermined by the topographic makeup of the city; the interpretation of Modernism in the first spatial plan and the first housing district in the capital – to the semantic interpretation of the city’s centre through time…

The studies are of interest both to the professionals who study Sofia and who are offered a chance to see aspects of it that would be unusual to the specialist’ eye, and to a broader readership interested in the cultural history of Sofia in its entirety, as an organism which has evolved from a pre-historic settlement to a modern and populous European city.

The book is richly illustrated and the chronological arrangement of the figures offers a visual context in its own right – a kind of a visual history of the city.

The key merits of this work include:

● An attempt to cover the full variety of aspects of the city’s history from its establishment to this day;

● Application of a new – holistic, inter-disciplinary, multifaceted – research approach which overcomes the problem of a narrow and professionally-limited attitude to the city’s development by creating a broad-aspect historic picture;

● Many of the subjects of study (topogenesis of the urban structure, the context of Balkan capitals, interpretation of Modernism in the first spatial plan and the first housing district, etc.) get in the focus of scientific analysis for the first time;

● It offers the first analysis of facts and data outside the architectural theories and the results come in aid to the urban history of the city;

● A significant part of the newly-discovered facts and data about sites, as well as the wealth of illustration material, has never before been presented to the scientific community and the public, and these now get in circulation;

Area of application: This work is a useful addition to the existing bibliography on the history of the Bulgarian capital city. It is a contribution to the advancement of the science of architecture as it becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, to the spatial planning.

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