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Better Moments Bulgaria - Small Group Guided Tours

Plovdiv

Пловдив, pronounced (Plovdif) in Bulgarian

The city in the heart of Ancient Thrace, - is among the earliest cities on the European continent. The fruitful field, high-water river, favorable climate, natural protection of the hills provided conditions for people to come and settle there already in the in the 6thmillennium B.C. in the late period of the new Stone Age. They built their first huts and lived there until the beginning of the Bronze Age. There, on the northernmost hill, on the boundary between the bRonze and the Iron Age the Thracians set ut the foundations of the most important and famous city on the lands of the future country of Bulgaria and turned it into a centre of the entire territory. There they built up the fortified palace for their rulers, there was a place of a cult, and in the surrounding the most outstanding treasures were found. The city has a dynamic history. It was often a victim of aggressive attacks.

After the 4thc. B.C. it was the second big political and economic centre of Thrace. Then its powerful fortifying facilities encompassed a significant territory, located on the three hills, turning them into a historic body of the city. The dramatic fight of the city against the Roman conquest ended with its joining the Roman province of Thrace after 46. A new era of the city came. It didn’t lose its importance only, but it enhanced its role as the crossroads on the Balkans, being essential for the Roman Empire. 

Then it was subsequently invaded by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Rus people, Crusaders and Turks.  On 4 January 1878, at the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), Plovdiv was taken away from Ottoman rule by the Russian army. It remained within the borders of Bulgaria until July of the same year, when it became the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia. In 1885, Plovdiv and Eastern Rumelia joined Bulgaria.

Nowadays Plovdiv is the second-largest city of Bulgaria located in the historical region of Thrace. It has a population of 347,000 as of 2018 and 675,000 in the greater metropolitan area. Plovdiv is the culture capital of Bulgaria and was officially selected as the Bulgarian host of the European Capital 2019. It is an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational centre. There is evidence of habitation in Plovdiv dating back to the 6th millennium BCE, when the first Neolithic settlements were established.

Plovdiv is situated in a fertile region of south-central Bulgaria on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven hills, some of which are 250 meters high. Because of these hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as "The City of the Seven Hills".

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What to do and see
WHAT TO DO AND SEE

The Old Town

is absolutely worth to have a walk through. Specially the area around the hand craft street is beautiful and cosy to walk around. Many old narrow streets, small shops for hand craft and impressive well-kept houses in the original state. Some of the houses became small museums and you are allowed to go in and have a look (small fee). The Old Town of Plovdiv is a historic preservation site known for its Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style. The Old Town covers the area of the three central hills. Almost every house in the Old Town has its characteristic exterior and interior decoration.

 

The Roman City

In the “Roman City”you will find all kind of protected sites to visit. We describe some here below, but there is many more to find as Odeon, The Roman Forum, Bishop Basilica, Roman aqueduct etc. 

 

The Ancient Theater

Probably the best-known monument from antiquate in Bulgaria. During recent archaeological survey, an inscription was found on a statue at the theatre. It revealed that the site was constructed at the 90s of the 1st century CE. The inscription itself refers to Titus Flavius Cotis, the ruler of the ancient city during the reign of Emperor Domitian.

The Ancient theatre is situated in the natural saddle between two of the Three Hills. It is divided into two parts with 14 rows each divided with a horizontal lane. The theatre could accommodate up to 7,000 people. The three-story scene is on the southern part and is decorated with friezes, cornices, and statues. The theatre was studied, conserved, and restored between 1968 and 1984. Many events are still held on the scene including the Opera Festival Opera Open, the Rock Festival Sounds of the Ages, and the International Folklore festival.

 

The Ancient Stadium

Another important monument of the ancient city. It was built in the 2nd century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It is situated between Danov Hill and one of the Three Hills, beneath the main street from Dzhumaya Square to Kamenitsa Square. It was modelled after the stadium in Delphi. It was approximately 240 metres (790 feet) long and 50 metres (160 feet) wide, and could seat up to 30,000 spectators. The athletic games at the stadium were organised by the General Assembly of the province of Thrace. In their honour, the royal mint of Philippopolis coined money featuring the face of the ruling emperor as well as the types of athletic events held in the stadium. Only a small part of the northern section with 14 seat rows can be seen today; the larger part lies under the main street and a number of buildings.

Museums:

 

Museums

The Archaeological Museum, The Plovdiv Regional Historical Museum, The Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum, The Museum of Natural Science, and The Museum of Aviation.

 

Churches, Mosques, Monasteries and Temples

There are a number of 19th-century churches, most of which follow the distinctive Eastern Orthodox construction style. They are the Saint Constantine and Saint Helena, the Saint Marina, the Saint Nedelya, the Saint Petka, and the Holy Mother of God Churches. As the city has been a gathering center for Orthodox Christians for a long period of time, Plovdiv is surrounded by several monasteries located at the foot of the Rhodope Mountains such as "St. George", "St. Kozma and Damian", St. Kirik, and Yulita (Ulita). They remain good examples of the late Middle Age Orthodox architecture and iconography masterpieces typical for the region. There are also Roman Catholic cathedrals in Plovdiv, the Cathedral of St Louis being the largest. There are several more modern Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other Protestant churches, as well as older style Apostolic churches. Two mosques remain in Plovdiv from the time of Ottoman rule. The Djumaya Mosque is considered the oldest European mosque outside Moorish Spain.

 

The Sephardic Plovdiv Synagogue

is at Tsar Kaloyan Street 13 in the remnants of a small courtyard in what was once a large Jewish quarter. Dating to the 19th century, it is one of the best-preserved examples of the so-called "Ottoman-style" synagogues in the Balkans. According to author Ruth E. Gruber, the interior of the Plovdiv Synagogue is a "hidden treasure…a glorious, if run-down, burst of color." An exquisite Venetian glass chandelier hangs from the center of the ceiling, which has a richly painted dome. All surfaces are covered in elaborate, Moorish-style, geometric designs in once-bright greens and blues. Torah scrolls are kept in the gilded Aron-ha-Kodesh. 

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