Not a single city in Bulgaria can compare with Plovdiv in diversity, history and atmosphere. This is why it was hardly a coincidence that precisely this city was chosen to be the European Capital of Culture 2019.
This, however, doesn't mean that you have to postpone your next trip to Plovdiv for 2019. Bulgaria's second largest city is wonderful and welcoming every day, regardless of the season.
Located by the Maritsa River and the Rhodope mountain, in the heart of the Upper Thracian Valley, Plovdiv lures with its colourful Revival Period houses and elegant 19th century churches sitting by the cobblestone streets of the Old City. Walking around and stopping here and there, lost in observation of the picturesque details, is an unforgettable experience that stays forever in the memory and the heart.
What makes Plovdiv so unique is its atmosphere of a place where different epochs, peoples, religions and traditions blend in mesmerising picture. Plovdiv is one of Europe's oldest cities, claiming history spanning 8,000 years. Besides the picturesque Revival Period houses, in it you will discover remains from the Roman Antiquity like the theatre in the Old City and the wonderfully renovated stadium in the centre. These include as well the splendid 4th-6th centuries mosaics of the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis and the Small Basilica. The former is still in a process of socialisation, but it already plans to apply for inclusion in UNESCO's list of cultural and historical heritage. The latter is open for visitors, displaying intriguing mosaics and bits of Late Antiquity history.
Revival Period houses in the Old Town
Next to these ancient ruins and Revival Period mansions can be seen the oldest clocktower in the Balkans, on Sahat Tepe hill, the 15th century Cuma and Imaret mosques, and elegant buildings in European styles built between the end of the 19th and the middle of the 20th centuries.
This amalgamation of cultures and sights, however, is not a dry and grey museum experience. Plovdiv is famed for its artistic atmosphere and active cultural life, complemented in the recent years by an increased economic activity and development. You will notice this as early as you make your first steps on the central streets. In Plovdiv people are calm and amiable, and the culture calendar abounds with exhibitions, shows, festivals and concerts, including ones in the still functioning ancient theatre. The growing number of Bulgarian and foreign tourists adds to the Plovdiv's buzz and to its cosmopolitain atmosphere.
Another embodiment of Plovdiv's lively spirit is the central neighbourhood Kapana. Until recently its narrow streets with humble early-20th century houses were quiet and unkempt. But several years ago Kapana reawakened as a quarter of creative industries. Today, it is where some of the best restaurants, bars, shops and cafes in Plovdiv are located – a true achievement as the culinary and night scene of the city has always been in a class of its own.
All of these make Plovdiv a place where it is a pleasure to return, reliving it in multiple visits, a city with not only millennia-old past, but also with lively present and promising future.
The mosaics of the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis cover about 2,000 sq.m