PLOVDIV, MY LOVE
Visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria - 2019 European capital of Culture
The Charming city of Plovdiv is getting ready to be the 2019 European Culture Capital. It is the first Bulgarian city chosen to be European Capital of Culture. Construction is active and part of the city looks like a construction site. Plovdiv attracts numerous guests from all over the world,despite small inconveniences, and maybe due to the unusually warm fall of 2018.
We all ask ourselves “Why”? Why do so many people come over especially on weekends. Presumably, it’s the romance of the narrow cobbled streets, the silence and tranquility and history. Colourful facades of 19th-century houses carefully restored recently, tiny art galleries, small shops selling local artists’ works – all add authentic charm to this place.
No matter how often I visit the city, Plovdiv always offers something new. The artistic atmosphere is in the air, and one feels this everywhere. It’s maybe hidden in the cultural memory of the city, almost 8000 years old.
Plovdiv is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, founded about 6000 BC on Nebet Tepe, one of Plovdiv’s hills. Expanding around Nebet Tepe, then fortified by the Thracians during the Iron Age, conquered by Philip II of Macedon in the 4th c BC, conquered again by the Romans in 45 AC - the history of Plovdiv is very long and eventful. Ancient ruins show the importance of the city: the Roman Theater (108-114 AD) accommodating up to 5,000, the Stadium (90 AD) with a capacity of 30,000 people, the Odeon and the Forum, defense walls (2 c AD). One can still visit the Roman sites, scattered in the heart of the modern city, all within a convenient distance.
Depending on the time one spends in Plovdiv, the Old Town is a must-see. There are about 400 19-th century wooden-frame houses. Most of them are real architectural stars. It’s a difficult choice which one to visit. Balabanov’s house, Klianti House, House of Dimitar Georgiadi, housing the Ethnographic museum, Hindliyan’s House - they all tell a different and compelling story.
Centre of Art
Plovdiv is famous for being a centre of art with distinctive artistic and historical importance. We are all tempted to take pictures with the bronze sculpture of the Artist in Saborna Street. Zlatyu Boyadzhiev (1903-1976) is one of the most famous and much loved Bulgarian artists. There are two art spaces also worth a visit – the art galleries of Encho Pironkov and Dimitar Kirov.
Art in Kapana
The artistic neighbourhood of Kapana is located centrally downtown. In less than a decade this place has turned from a shabby place into a brilliant example of cultural approach to the architectural heritage of the early 20th century. Art thrives in Kapana, it is the place of creative industries and artistic approaches. We were lucky to be there during two festivals – the June Festival and the Young Wine Festival in October. One must bear in mind that Plovdiv is the centre of the Thracian Plane Wine Region. Boutique wineries have been mushrooming lately and finding the best red wines can be a bit of a challenge. You only need time and enthusiasm for wine-tasting.
Wine & Dine
Plovdiv's wine and dine culture is exquisite. Small restaurants are mushrooming as well. Some of them are so popular that booking a table in advance is advised. “Green” practices and health food here are a priority. Guidebook’s recommendations might be outdated, in order to find “your place” you should ask the locals. They are the unexpected hidden gem of Plovdiv. Plovdivians describe themselves as laid-back, always warm, smiling and ready to assist you at any time.
And last, but not least – Plovdiv is one of the best places for shopping. Some of the best shops are located along the main pedestrian street Alexandrovska (“Knyaz Alexander Battenberg I”).
Enjoy your stay and do come again in 2019.