This wonderful event lightened the mood of the citizens of Sofia in February. It made them dream, think seriously, enjoy the small pleasures and have fun... That is because the Viennese spirit hovered over the capital.

And it was felt everywhere that "Vienna loves Sofia" - a motto written on a special retro tram that circulated around the city every day for two hours and on which children and adults could tour and listen about the Viennese sights, as well as learn about the relations between the two European capitals.

The same was written on the heart, installed in Serdika Center Mall, full of sweets – the typical Viennese wafers by the manufacturer "Maner". It was here, on the 5th of February, when the "Days of Vienna" in Sofia were announced with a Viennese waltz. "The Blue Danube" performed by thirty-two dancers of the National Opera and Ballet along with ten musicians from the Sofia Philharmonic - highly impressed the numerous audiences.

The official opening of the Days of Vienna was done with a Vienna Ball in Sofia Hotel Balkan, on the evening of 11th of February. It was held under the patronage of H. E. Mr. Roland Hauser, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Austria in Bulgaria, and the mayor of Sofia - Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova. Its organizer was the non-profit association "Vienna Club" and participants were diplomats, ministers, MPs, businessmen, cultural figures.

Children from six metropolitan schools took part in the drawing competition "How I imagine Vienna's Prater". On the 12th of February in Serdika Center ten of them were awarded prizes by representatives of the official delegation from Vienna, who arrived especially for the event.

The "Days of Vienna" were filled with very strong work part, related to the exchange of experience and information on important for our cities issues.

On the 13th of February the Cultural Forum "Museum of the Future" was held, at the National Gallery "Square 500", which was attended by representatives of the Sofia Municipality, as well as, non-governmental organizations and journalists, experts and cultural figures. The topics were "Management of Museums" and "Preservation of the Historic City Center". The forum was opened by Mr. Thomas Reindl, chairman of the City Council of Vienna and Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia. The lectures were related to the protection and preservation of the historic center of cities and the experience of Vienna with sites included in the List of the World Heritage by UNESCO. In 2001 the historic center of the Austrian capital became part of this list. The Vienna museum and the House of Music showed innovative ways and forms of museums management.

For seven years in a row, Vienna has been distinguished as the best city to live in the world and it occupies the top spot in the prestigious ranking of "Mercer" for the city with the best quality of life. The Austrian capital earns points mainly because of its housing, public transport, the wide variety of restaurants, but also because of the opportunities for leisure - theaters, cinemas, sports, and the environmental situation in the city - from green space to air quality. Green areas account for over 50% of the total territory of the city, therefore environmental Vienna is a city-model. On the 14th of February in Sofia, during the forum "Cities of the Future: Vienna and Sofia" on the theme "Ecology: Green Spaces" the Viennese experts presented innovative concepts and solutions for planning green areas close to residential areas and large recreational areas in outskirts of town.

Last year the "Diplomatic Spectrum" told the story of the green achievements of the department MA 42 "Viennese parks" of the City of Vienna in the material "A walk around Türkenschanzpark with fascinating stories by Gerhard Pledl". You can view it HERE.

The forum "Cities of the Future: Vienna and Sofia" contained another theme - "Urban Mobility". Vienna is rightly proud of a well-functioning public transport and it shares its experience in this field with Bulgarian experts. Innovative projects that had participated in the competition of the municipality "Golden Torch Relay" Were also presented. After the main reports of the experts in small workgroups experiences were shared on the topics: "Innovation in Mobility", "Central Traffic Management", "Reducing Traffic in Downtown".

"Diplomatic Spectrum" presented last September the unique strategy Smart City Wien an important part of which is mobility. More about it can be found HERE.

The days of the Austrian capital in Sofia ended in the Concert Hall of the Central Military Club on the 14th of February – on Trifon's Day and St. Valentine ’s Day, in the evening of the Viennese wine. The special installation built in the hall, recreated the atmosphere of a typical Viennese winery. The invited guests were delighted by the wonderful combination of traditional dishes from Austrian cuisine and superb wines from the municipal cellar of Vienna. There was also Viennese live music - quartet Atenzam who took care of the good mood.

The “Days of Vienna” in Sofia organized by Eurocomm - PR Wien - Bureau of International Relations of the City of Vienna, with the support of Sofia Municipality.

Photos provided by Eurocomm - PR Wien - Bureau of International Relations of the City of Vienna.

Above: Viennese waltz in Serdika Center Mall

Bottom: retro tram; Mr. Thomas Reindl, chairman of the City Council of Vienna at the opening of the Cultural Forum; he, Sofia Mayor Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova and Mrs. Irina Simova head of Eurocomm - PR Sofia in conversation; Evening of the Viennese wine in the Central Military Club