Welcome to the Oldest European city, where the life has not stopped for the last 8000 years.
This is Plovdiv, the European capital of Culture for 2019, ancient, beautiful, charming with its artistic soul and people.
Plovdiv is situated in Thracian lowland on the biggest river in Bulgaria – Maritsa, and only few kilometers of the first hills of Rhodope mountain. There are six natural hills in the city, which give the unique vision and are part of the city culture. Until the begging of 20th century they were seven, but one was destroyed. Although the fact, still the nickname of the city is “The city of seven hills” (tepes on Turkish). All they have their own names and interesting history. In the very center is a group of three, known as “Trihylmie” (Three hills), where the fortification history started millennia ago. On the top of the highest hill – Nebet tepe – was erected the first fort and it was used as a fort until the end of 19th century. The panoramic view from there is amazing and could be seen not only the city, but the mountains Rhodope, Rila, Middle Forest and The Balkan as well.
From Nebet tepe starts the city tour with the stories of the first European culture, those of the Thracians, who had been the Masters of Europe and the creators of the first high civilization. Then the story line crosses the ancient Greek heritage and the glorious time of Philip II, the Great conquer, who became the Master among all of the Balkan kingdoms and after the conquest of Plovdiv the city name was changed after him – Philippopolis. With this name, the city was known until the end of 19th century, although more than 20 names have been given to it during all the centuries.
The Roman Empire concurred Thracia in 1st century AD and Philippopolis had a very special role since the begging of their rule here. From the Roman times are most of the significant sites in Plovdiv – the Antic Theatre, The Roman Stadium, The Forum, The Odeon, The Aqueduct, The Great Basilica, The Eastern Gate and the well preserved main street Decumanus Maximus. Lucian of Samosata called the city “the largest and most beautiful of all cities”. The number of the population according to Ammianus Marcellinus was more than 100 000. Proof of this giant number is the Stadion, built to gather around 30 000 people.
Plovdiv became part of The First Bulgarian Empire since the beginning of 9th century. The city and the region around were important part of the southern part of our country and an important trade center. On a close distance from Plovdiv, in 11th century was built Bachkovo Monastery, the largest in this part of the country, a cultural and educational hub for many generations.
The Ottomans used Plovdiv as a base for their attacks to the hinterland since the very beginning of the 5 centuries long domination. In Plovdiv was erected the first Mosque on Bulgarian land, still preserved in the historical center of the city. The preserved the special status of the city as a multi-national and multi-cultural trade center.
For the first seven years after The Liberation, Plovdiv was a capital of an autonomic province excluded of the Principality of Bulgaria. The Unification declared on 6th of September 1885, united the two main parts of Bulgaria and formed the territory of the country until present days.
Today Plovdiv is the second largest city of Bulgaria with a population of 500 000 and strong economy. The biggest international Fair is located in the city and gather thousands of people every year.
Plovdiv European capital of Culture 2019 – #together
This year Plovdiv is a host of the annual initiative and it’s a great honor for the citizens to show their heritage to Europe and the rest of the World. The cultural program is organized by a non-government organization – Plovdiv 2019 Foundation, which includes artists from different fields, working together for the new face of the Eternal Plovdiv.
Here is the site of the Foundation: https://plovdiv2019.eu/en/
Years before the beginning of 2019, Plovdiv has already had unique art look, because of the young people living and creating their arts – music, graffiti, handcrafts, theatre, fests, paintings, dances. Twice per year a new modern street art festival take place in the bohemian neighborhood “Kapana” (The Trap).
Must see sites in Plovdiv
The Old Town
There are so many places in the Old Town, which must be seen, that you need at least 1 full day to visit all.
Nebet tepe with its ruins from 4th millennia BC to the Ottoman times Roman times city wall and gate
18th and 19th centuries old houses, most of them museums and art galleries today.
The Antic Theater – the symbol of Plovdiv
Kapana – The Trap
The bohemian quarter with amazing small handcraft shops, coffees and restaurants
The main pedestrian market street
The street is the longest market street in Europe with length 2 kilometers. On the street are located several sites:
The Stadium – Perfectly preserved antic Roman stadium with 30 000 seats
Djumaya Mosque – the oldest on Bulgarian territory
The Odeon – Covered small Roman Theater
The Roman Forum
Catholic cathedral – Cathedral of St Louis – the largest in Bulgaria
Bishop Basilica of Philippopolis – built in the beginning of the 5th century AD. It is the largest early-Christian temple discovered in Bulgaria
Eirene Residence – built in 3rd century AD
The Aqueduct from Roman times
Alyosha Monument – a remind from the communist times
Small basilica from Roman times
Chocolate tour in a small family Chocolate manufactory for organic products
Bachkovo monastery – built in the beginning of 11th century with amazing old churches and frescos
45 min from Plovdiv
Aseneva fortress – a medieval fortress built in times of the Second Bulgarian Empire
30 min from Plovdiv
Belintash – an ancient sanctuary with strong energy in Rhodope mountain
1 hour from Plovdiv
Tell Yunatsite – one of the oldest European settlement
1 hour from Plovdiv
Starosel – Thracian cult complex and tombs
1 hour from Plovdiv
Kazanlyk, the Rose valley and Buzludzha monument
1 ½ hour from Plovdiv