An ancient crossroads between East and West and Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv is one of its most attractive and vibrant centers, situated in the Upper Thracian valley, along the two banks of Maritza, scattered upon six unique hills. Plovdiv has preserved unique treasures from its 24 centuries history. Evmolpia – the city of the ancient Thracians, Philippopolis (372 B.C.) – the city of Philip II Macedonian, the Roman Trimontium – the city on three hills, and Old Plovdiv – a picturesque architectural National Revival period ensemble fashioned by the generous talent, heart and mind of the Bulgarian masters.
From the city’s ancient buildings – the city forum, the stadium, the amphitheatre of Philip II of Macedon, basilicas, thermal baths, houses and administrative buildings, mostly fragments remain today: columns, capitals, friezes, mosaics, bas-reliefs and street pavements. The 2nd century Roman Amphitheatre, seating 3,000 has been completely restored and performances are again presented here.
With multi-colored facades, yoke-shaped bay-windows and slender pediments, abundant decoration and lavish furnishings, softly colored silhouettes and carved ceilings, Plovdiv’s two – and three-storey houses are resembling minor palaces. Just take a look at the Georgiadi House (1846-48), the Koyumdjioglou House (1846-48), today’s Ethnographic Museum, the Balabanov House and the Alphonse de Lamartine museum-house (1830) where the French poet lived for a few months.
During the National Revival period were built many churches in prominent places: the three nave basilicas churches St. Nedelya and St. Dimiter (1831), St. Constantine and Helena Church (1832) and the St. Marina main metropolitan church (1853-54).
But Plovdiv isn’t merely a parade of antiquities: the city’s arts festivals and trade fairs rival Sofia’s in number, and its restaurants and hotels compare favorably with those of the capital.