The enchanting city of Plovdiv has a history that has dated back more than 8,000 years making it one of the oldest in the work. For thousands of years, it was controlled by the Thracians before the Romans took over and create a huge array of monuments that are not only on display in the city but still being discovered. Steeped in culture and history, it really is a gem of a place to visit.
As far as ancient theatres go, this is up there as one of the best and after being in place for more than 2000 years, it is still being used today. It can hold up to 7000 people and it is embedded into one of the six hills in Plovdiv. As you head down towards the terraces you will not only see the theatre in all its glory but you will also have a view of the city. The theatre was only discovered in the 1970s following a landslide but it is a sight to behold.
Plovdiv Roman Stadium
Sticking with the Roman theme, this 2nd-century stadium could hold as much as 30,000 people but now only parts of it remain. It is below sections of the Old Town and in the same way as the theatre, it was only rediscovered in the 20th century. For the best views, head to Dzhumaya where you can peer over the railings at a large section of the seating in the stadium. Once you walk down, you can head through a vaulted passageway that runs beneath the northern curve. For more information, the visitor centre will be more than happy to help.
Plovdiv Old Town
The cobblestone streets of Old Plovdiv are free of cars and this is where you can explore the traditional buildings and Roman ruins. Many of the houses here are half-timbered and some are painted in vivid colours. The house of Stepan Hindliyan dates back to the 1800s and has ornate designs in a vivid blue around the window frames. You can head inside if you wish as well as many others in the Old Town to see the interiors with one of the murals in one of Stepan Hindliyan’s house took six months to paint by hand.
Located alongside the post office, you can see the remains of a Roman Forum that split the two main streets known as Cardo Maximus and Decumanus Maximus. In its site, it would have been a sight to cherish especially as you would have had to step between three impressive archways or propylae to gain access to the square. Now you can see pieces of Doric columns and next door is the odeon where the council once met.
Take a short trip to the southeast of Plovdiv and you will find the medieval castle that is perched on the edge of the Asenitsa River. This stunning building is every inch impressive and against the limestone rocks and pine brush, it looks sensational. You can view the walls as they zig zag down the mountainside where they have protected the fortress for as long as 6,000 years, dating back to the time of the Thracians. Much of what you see today dates back to the 1200s and the Church of the Holy Mother of God is the best-preserved section and includes partially damaged murals that date back to the 14th century.
Plovdiv Aviation Museum
If you want to get away from the Roman ruins for a while then the aviation museum could be a perfect choice. You can find this at the city airport and for anyone who has an interest in the communist era as well as the Cold War history, it has a lot to offer. You can find migs and yaks here but the most interesting plane is the Arado 196 A-3, which is a German seaplane that was manufactured in 1938 and is the only model left in the world.
This building once belonged to the Mevlevi Order of Sufis and it is a rare sight in Bulgaria. The Mevlevi order could be found during the Ottoman times but at the end of the 19th century it died out in Plovdiv. All that remains now is the hall or ‘Tekke’ and this is where the Sufis performed their famous dances. It dates back to the Renaissance period but modifications were made by the Ottomans. This is a worthwhile place to visit because it is positioned alongside the defences of the city and some of the artefacts that have been found can be viewed in the Puldin Restaurant downstairs.
Map of Plovdiv
Pictures of Plovdiv
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