Sofia will be among the 10 Bulgarian cities vying for the title of 2019 European Capital of Culture, its mayor said Monday, highlighting the city's recent archeological digs as an added attraction.
Two European Capitals of Culture will be selected for 2019, one from Italy and one from Bulgaria.
"With large-scale digs launched in downtown Sofia, our capital wants to become an attractive tourist destination," Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said as she announced the city's candidacy.
Some 40 monasteries and churches with Byzantine-era frescoes, and cultural events like Sofia Design Week and Sofia Dance Week, will also contribute, she said.
Sofia will be competing with nine other Bulgarian cities to be named a European culture capital, including the central city of Plovdiv and the picturesque ancient capital of Veliko Tarnovo.
An ancient settlement dating back to the 7th century BC, before the Romans renamed it Serdica, the Bulgarian capital is named after Saint Sofia, after the church of the same name located at its centre and dating back to 311 A.D.
Construction work on Sofia's underground network over the last two years also uncovered paved streets, ancient buildings and public baths going back to the 4th century.
The 2019 Culture Capitals will be decided in 2015.