Medical University of Sofia is the oldest institution for higher medical education in Bulgaria. His Majesty Zar Ferdinand founded it by decree in 1917 as a medical faculty of Sofia University. Medical University – Sofia is highly esteemed and the undisputed leader in its area of education in all five professional fields, showed the new fifth consecutive ranking of universities in the country for 2015. It is №1 in each of five areas of study: Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health Care and Public Health. The university has more than 6,000 national and international students (about 1600 coming from abroad), and more than 800 professors and lecturers.
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. Sofia is the 15th largest city in the European Union with population of more than 1.2 million people. The city is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country, within less than 50 km. drive from the Serbian border. Its location in the center of the Balkan peninsula means that it is the midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, whereas the Aegean Sea is the closest to it. Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BCE. Many of the major universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies of Bulgaria are concentrated in Sofia.
Sofia is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bulgaria alongside coastal and mountain resorts. Among its highlights is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the symbols of Bulgaria, constructed in the late 19th century. It occupies an area of 3,170 square meters and can hold 10,000 people. Sofia holds Bulgaria’s largest museum collections, which attract tourists and students for practical studies. The National Historical Museum in Boyana district has a vast collection of more than 650,000 historical items dating from Prehistory to the modern era, although only 10,000 of them are permanently displayed due to the lack of space. Smaller collections of items related mostly to the history of Sofia are in the National Archaeological Museum, a former mosque located between the edifices of the National Bank and the Presidency. Two natural sciences museums — the Natural History Museum and the Earth and Man – display minerals, animal species (alive and taxidermic) and rare materials. The Ethnographic Museum and the National Museum of Military History are other places of interest, holding large collections of Bulgarian folk costumes and armaments, respectively.
Sofia concentrates a significant portion of the national higher education capacity, including 109,000 university and college students and 22 of Bulgaria’s 51 higher education establishments. These include four of the five highest-ranking national universities – Sofia University (SU), University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, the Technical University of Sofia, University of National and World Economy and the University of Mining and Geology. Sofia University was founded in 1888. More than 20,000 students study in its 16 faculties. A number of research and cultural departments operate within SU, including its own publishing house, botanical gardens, a space research center, a quantum electronics department, and a Confucius Institute Rakovski Defence and Staff College, the National Academy of Arts, and Sofia Medical University are other major higher education establishments in the city.