European Capital of Culture – Plovdiv 2019
There are places that draw you in time and time again. Places that you keep going back to only to experience their intangible allure. Places that soothe the mind and create memories you want to share. And Plovdiv is one such place. It is a town steeped in history yet bustling with modernity. Dubbed the oldest European inhabited city, this year it is crowned with a yet another well-deserved title – that of European capital of culture, a shared honour with the beautiful Italian city of Matera.
Indeed culture is what Plovdiv has in abundance. And it is usually unobtrusively mixed with millennial history. The old town of Plovdiv is an architectural reserve, yet still inhabited by present-day residents who take great pride in their heritage. A walk up the cobbled streets (Plovdiv is known as the city of the seven hills so a climb is inevitable) will take you through a labyrinth of Revival-period houses with gossiping corners at their front gates. Each house boasts a colourful facade on the outside and beautifully wood-carved ceilings on the inside. Once home to the city’s noblesse and the new bourgeoisie of merchants and policy-makers the houses of Kuyumdzhioglu, Nikola Nedkovich, Stepan Hindliyan, Veren Stambolyan and Georgi Mavridi have now been turned into museums and are open to visitors. Our guided tour will let you in on some of the secrets of their inhabitants and the bizarre facts of their everyday lives.
Plovdiv’s ancient Roman amphitheater
is a yet another exquisite piece of architecture situated right in the city’s center. Built during the reign of Emperor Trajan, it was accidentally uncovered during a landslide in 1972. It once held about 7000 spectators and is now largely restored to serve as a magical venue for large-scale special events and concerts.
The city is indeed dotted with Roman ruins so you shouldn’t be surprised if you come across an ancient mosaic or a Roman column casually propped up against a wall next to a modern-day retail store. The ancient Roman stadium (2nd C AD) where gladiator fights and sporting events were held is located at the Dzhumaya square and runs right across the city’s main street. Nearby is one of the oldest cult Ottoman buildings on the Balkans, the Dzhymaya Mosque – an architectural masterpiece in its own right.
Plovdiv is also the living proof that past and present can be reconciled. The 11-meter tall concrete monument of the Soviet soldier Alyosha still overlooks the city from its highest hill, Burnarjik Tepe. It’s worth visiting at night as the place reveals a staggering view of the richly illuminated city.
If you are a hedonist at heart, one of Plovdiv’s oldest quarters, Kapana, is a must-experience spot. The once derelict and sad-looking buildings have recently been renovated and turned into a hub for artists, gourmet seekers and vagabonds. The little quarter is full of cozy classy restaurants, art galleries and artisan shops and is the perfect hang-out for all willing to escape the tourist rush. It also makes for a good excuse to just sit over a glass of ripe red wine and ponder your next stop – for there is plenty to choose from in this eternal city.
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IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A PRIVATE TOUR AND WANT TO DISCOVER MORE THAN THE TOURIST SIGHTS, THAN YOUR GUIDES ARE WAITING FOR YOU…
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