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Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Ancient and Eternal


An introduction to Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv, from the perspective of a local, including attractions and food recommendations.

Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The ancient Roman theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user MrPanyGoff.

What’s the first city that comes to your mind when you think of European history? Athens? Rome? Think again. Built on 7 hills, just like Athens and Rome – but older than both – Plovdiv, Bulgaria is among the oldest centers of European civilization and one of the oldest cities in the world! There’s evidence that it has been continuously inhabited for 8,000 years. Today, Plovdiv is a famous European destination – a whirlpool of art and history that will leave you full of memories and begging for more.

Being a European Capital of Culture for 2019, Plovdiv has proven its significant role as a cultural and historical center. Here are some of the main city attractions that are worth exploring:

The Old Town/Ancient Plovdiv

Right in the heart of the city you will find the Old Town, which is a tentative Unesco World Heritage Site. It is a true jewel in the crown of European and world history. When you are in the Old Town, everything worth seeing is within walking distance. Whether you strictly follow and check your list of sights or just walk the narrow ancient cobblestone streets until you get lost just to see another ancient relic right around the corner, you will never forget this experience. The Old Town has its very own charisma that has stood the brunt of ages – it feels ancient, beautiful, peaceful, and inspiring, all at the same time. It is a place where art meets history.

For more information, visit: oldplovdiv.com

The Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis

Plovdiv boasts about the longest pedestrian zone in Europe. Buried below is the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis, dating back to the beginning of 2nd century AD. With a capacity of 30,000 people, the stadium is approximately 240 meters long and 50 meters wide. You can see the northern part of the stadium at Dzhumaya Square and some parts of the stadium are even exhibited on the ground floors of some buildings on the main street!

For more information, visit: ancient-stadium-plovdiv.eu

The Ancient Roman Theatre

One of the best preserved antique theatres in the world, the Ancient Theatre in Plovdiv is a must-see for all history lovers. Cuddled between two of the city’s hills, the theatre, once playing a significant role both in the social and the political life of the town, is now a stage of diverse performances. Plays, concerts, and art projects take place there even today, mixing the contemporary with the ancient in a divine feast for the soul.

The Antique Odeon and Antique Forum

This is the largest forum complex discovered in Bulgaria. It used to be a center of administration, economy, culture, politics, and religion. Found in 1988, the Antique Odeon was believed to serve as a town hall, but later constructions revealed it was used as a theatre.

The Bachkovo Monastery

A half-hour trip from Plovdiv will take you to Bachkovo Monastery. It is one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. With its rich history and impressive size, this is one of the most-visited monasteries in Bulgaria. Founded in 1083, by the 19th century it had become the most important spiritual center in the district.

While you are in the area of Bachkovo, be sure to visit Asen’s Fortress which is only a few kilometers away! This enchanting fortress, tucked in the outskirts of the Rhodope Mountain, is an important part of Bulgaria’s cultural heritage.

Whether you prefer a planned visit to all major sights or you are a traveler who just wants to soak in the atmosphere of the chosen destination, you will certainly enjoy the free walking tour of the city sights organized by the Plovdiv municipality. It takes place every Wednesday, and it’s a great way to discover over 40 sites of historical and cultural significance.

With all these history sites at hand, you may think that Plovdiv has no places for having fun. You can’t be more wrong! In the hot summer you can relax in one of the many swimming pools or devote your day to action and extreme fun in one of the city’s aqua parks. In the cold winter days you can plan a trip to one of the many wine cellars in this part of Bulgaria; there you can enjoy wine tasting of some of the world-recognized Bulgarian wines. If you are a party person, Plovdiv’s nightlife will surely cast a spell on you.

As you see, Plovdiv has something for everybody. So, think no more and pack your suitcases – Plovdiv is the next destination you will tell your friends about!

Updated: 2017-04-19
Reason: Migration of site from the old, long URL (www.dauntlessjaunter.com) to this long-overdue shorter one 🙂 (we may have updated some typos or metadata while we were at it)

Written by
Hristina Dimitrova
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