If you have never been to Bulgaria there is a good chance you have never had the pleasure to learn about Plovdiv. It is a smaller city than Sofia so it is less stressful and great for walking.
What do you need to know?
Plovdiv is a multicultural city with its bohemian cafés, art galleries and cobbled streets. That is the first look you would get if you just walk by the central area, but there is something much more. The city is the oldest in Europe with history dating back eight thousand years! It is soaked with ancient remains of the Roman Empire and beautiful houses from the National revival. A big chunk of the city’s beauty comes from the old town, filled with art galleries and esthetic house museums. It is still alive – many distinguished artists still live and work in the old town tranquilizing the poetic atmosphere. The entire neighbourhood is filled with ancient Roman antiques – the two most astonishing being the Roman Amphitheatre and the Roman Stadium.
You may ask yourself – what makes them special?
Our stadium is a needle in a haystack, only few of the same design were ever made. It was built in the second century A.D. by the Romans and was used to host the Panhellenic Games (the modern Olympic games) in honor of several emperors. During those times Trimontium (the Latin name which stands for city on three hills) was an important cultural capital of the Thracian region. Remarkably, to this day the stadium remains intact and a small part of has been excavated and made into a landmark. To not spoil the fun, I will not be telling you anymore, the rest I leave to you. It is easily accessible – you can go through the entrance of the competitors and experience the thousands years of history. Every great Roman city had its own amphitheater and Plovdiv was no exception. It held great theatrical, musical events and even gladiator battles! Being architecturally advanced the Romans knew how to build one – the theater was built adjacently between two hills allowing for great acoustics. What do I mean by that? The design is go great that even to this day the landmark is used for various events and rarely needs extra audio equipment. A great time to visit is during the summer, there are lots of different performances, including the Folk festival where people from all over the world come and the part in the cultural activities. It is magnificent!
Can we take a long walk?
Following recent renovations Plovdiv beat Copenhagen in having the longest pedestrian street in Europe! You can just take a long relaxing walk, chose a café and enjoy the atmosphere. The city is also well known for its relaxed atmosphere. We Bulgarians enjoy to sit down and gossip about daily events and other people as they walk by, it is part of our culture.
Plovdiv has six hills and three of them are ideal spots to have a beer, a quick snack or just read a book. Climbing on top of the hills gives you a beautiful panoramic view, a breath taking experience. There are nice spots just to sit down quietly and enjoy a reading session or even invite some friends and drink lots of beers! When I was a young most of my memories come from the hills – finishing school with my best friends, grabbing a beer and just talking about life. It is a great opportunity to strike a philosophical conversation, at least that is what I used to do. You might meet some metalheads, with their Black Sabbath t-shirts, long hair and acoustic guitars. Very friendly people who will make sure you have a good time, do not be afraid to approach them!
The main street.
As you make your way through the city you will notice the difference in architecture. Why are some of the constructions built differently? Bulgaria was part of the Soviet block and during those times capitalist designs were demolished, so why did they remain? I leave that brain teaser to you!
Being the second largest city Plovdiv challenges Sofia in the night life duel. You might have heard of chalga and certainly in Plovdiv we do not lack those kind of clubs and bars. I told you our city is famous for its artsy style and intellectuality, didn’t I? Well, I will tell you more about that in another blog!
Hope you have a good time in the city and make sure to send me some pictures! And don’t forget you can take the Free Plovdiv Tour while you are there!