The metropolitan district of Boyana (the village of Boyana until 1961) is situated at the foot of the northern slopes of the Vitosha mountain, on both sides of the Boyana river. Being surrounded by thick forests and a great deal of mountain streams, its air is very fresh and clean. Located at an average altitude of 750 meters above sea level is a mixture of luxurious residential buildings constructed mainly after 1990, also consists of ordinary homes and villas from the second half of the 20th century. Adjacent to them is the medieval Boyana church and its park being under the protection of UNESCO, the modern parish church “St. Panteleimon”, the heart of the Bulgarian film industry with a cinema center and film studios and the architectural park complex “Boyana” Residence, which served as the home of the Bulgarian head of state from 1974. Members of the State Council of Socialist Bulgaria lived here until 1990, but the democratic governments of modern Bulgaria also resided here after them. Since 1997, House 1 of the residence has been functioning as the National History Museum.
Boyana is a convenient starting point for a walk in the Natural Park ”Vitosha”, which is the fourth highest in Bulgaria with the highest peak – Cherni Vrah – 2290 meters above sea level. Interesting natural attractions to the south of the neighborhood are the Boyana lake and the Boyana waterfall, with a height of 25 meters, along with the Boyana river. The circular route Boyana quarter – Boyana lake – Boyana waterfall – Boyana quarter is suitable for a half-day walk in the mountains in almost all seasons. To the south of the Boyana waterfall, up in the mountain are the remains of two fortresses: the Batil fortress near the cliff Momina skala and the fortress in the locality called Preslopa.
There is no reliable information about the early history of Boyana. It’s name also remains of unclear origin – various researchers associate it with the surnames Boyan and Bayan, a Hellenized form of the Avar title bayan, or with the Latin Bo(v)iana, as the name of a river that irrigates pastures for oxen and cattle.
During the First Bulgarian Empire (632-1018), there were 35 fortresses in the area of what was then Sredets – today’s Sofia, which formed the defense system of the region. As the center of a military-administrative district, Sredets had important communication and strategic importance, with three concentric defensive rings formed around it. The first included the fortifications on the slopes of Vitosha Mountain, among which was the Boyon fortress mentioned twice by Greek sources in the first half of the 11th century. It is cited in three historical sources from the 11th century. They refer to the first half of the century and are related to various military actions: Fortress capture by the Romans in 1015 during the wars of the Byzantine emperor Basil II for the conquest of Bulgaria and during the Bulgarian rebellion of Peter Delyan against the Byzantine domination in 1040-41. The third mentioning is linked to the attack of the Pechenegs in 1048-49. Archaeological data so far are scarce and do not allow for reconstructing the scheme of the Boyon fortress. However, they admit the possibility that the Boyana church was located within the boundaries of a fortified settlement, which ensured the connections between medieval towns of Sredets and Pernik.
Some researchers suggest that during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396), there was an aristocratic residence in Boyana, a part of which was the Boyana Church. Archaeological evidence for this, however, is still insufficient to confirm or reject such a hypothesis. Probably, the Boyana village known to us from the later Ottoman archives existed at that time, yet, the earliest information about it in them refers to 1445 – it informs us that the village had several hundred inhabitants. In the second half of the 16th century, the Ottoman authorities assigned the people of Boyana with the maintenance of Yahya Pasha’s aqueduct, which supplied Sofia with water for at least until the late 19th century. After the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule (1878) and in the first decades of the 20th century, Boyana was still a small village with a few hundred inhabitants.
In 1938, Boyana joined the Greater Sofia City Municipality and gradually improved, eventually becoming a district of Sofia. The construction of the Boyana Residence in the 1970s turned the unsightly village into a center of power and a preferred place for many wealthy Sofia residents.