Plovdiv, Bulgaria is a historical treasure-trove, with some claiming it is the oldest city in Europe.
There are many European cities which lay claim to being Europe’s oldest city. Contenders include Athens, Nessebar in Bulgaria and the port city of Cadiz in Spain. However, another Bulgarian city also claims this title. Plovdiv is in the Thrace region of Bulgaria, and boasts around 6,000 years of history thanks to traces of a Neolithic settlement being found in the location of the current city.
The settlement moved from being the Thracian city Eumolpias to being renamed Philippoupolis before becoming a major Roman town by the name of Trimontium in 72 AD. Many buildings from this period have, at least partially, survived. After the Romans, the city was passed between the Bulgarian, Ottoman and Byzantine empires, and it is now the second largest city in Bulgaria.
The City of the Seven Hills
Plovdiv is known in Bulgaria as The City of the Seven Hills, as it was built on seven syenite hills rising around the Maritsa River. After one was destroyed in the early 20th century, the city is now built on six, but the name remains!
In Roman times, the city was a vibrant, bustling town, with numerous public buildings such as theatres, baths and shrines. The Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv is a magnificent surviving example of these, and is complemented by a restored example of a smaller Roman odeon, as well as a stadium and aqueduct.
Bulgaria has become a popular tourist destination, with a good range of flights available, and many cheap all inclusive holidays available for those on a budget. Plovdiv caters well for tourists, and the Archaeological Museum is a must-visit location in the city, displaying artefacts forming a record of the city’s rich history.
Other museums in Plovdiv include the Historical Museum, which covers the city’s history from the 16th to 20th centuries, and the Ethnographic Museum. There is also an aviation museum and the Museum of Natural Science, featuring the largest aquarium in the country.
Streets of Old
The Old Town in Plovdiv is a protected site of historic interest, as almost every building there demonstrates the Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style. Visitors can wander the medieval streets and get a feel for what life in the city might have been like hundreds of years ago.
Plovdiv also has many thriving cultural attractions, including various concerts and plays performed at the historical Roman sites. The Plovdiv Puppet Theatre group is one of the leading groups of its kind in the world, and the city’s Philharmonic orchestra, Trakiya Folklore Ensemble and Trakiya Traditional Choir are all well worth a listen when they are playing in the city.
The city also houses 30 art galleries, providing a rich display of artworks from leading Bulgarian artists as well as from Mexican painters. The city’s library is an important piece of Bulgaria’s history, and is the second largest in the country, containing over 1.5 million books.