A Journey Through Time and Architecture

Plovdiv’s story begins over 6,000 years ago, making it one of Europe’s oldest continually inhabited cities. Back in the Neolithic era, people settled in this region, leaving traces of their existence that date back to the 6th millennium BCE.

As time marched on, the Thracians arrived and established a settlement here known as Eumolpias. Legend has it that this city was named after Eumolpus, a mythical Thracian king. The Thracians were quite advanced in their culture and religious practices.

Fast forward to the 4th century BCE when Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, conquered the area and renamed the city after himself, calling it Philippopolis. Under Roman rule, which followed, Philippopolis flourished as a bustling urban hub strategically situated on the Via Diagonalis, a crucial Roman road connecting the Danube to the Aegean Sea. The Romans left behind remarkable landmarks like the Ancient Theatre, Roman Stadium, and aqueducts that still amaze visitors today.

In the heart of Plovdiv lies the remarkable Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, a grand structure built in the 1st century AD by the Romans. This historic theatre, with its stone tiers and stage, once echoed with the cheers of up to 6,000 spectators. Today, it continues to host cultural performances and events, preserving the spirit of entertainment from ancient times.

Beneath the bustling streets of Plovdiv’s city center lies a hidden gem—the remnants of the Roman Stadium. Imagine the excitement of athletic contests and chariot races that once took place here in the 2nd century AD. Visitors can now wander through this underground archaeological site, touching the ancient stones that witnessed sporting glory.

Nearby, the Roman Forum and Odeon (small theatre) provide glimpses into the administrative and cultural heart of ancient Philippopolis. These ruins stand as testaments to the city’s importance as a thriving Roman provincial capital, where politics and art converged in a bustling agora.

Venture outside the city center, and you’ll encounter traces of ancient Roman engineering—the remains of aqueducts that once supplied Plovdiv with water. These impressive structures speak volumes about the ingenuity and sophistication of Roman infrastructure.

Perched atop Nebet Tepe, one of Plovdiv’s seven hills, are the remnants of an ancient fortress and settlement. From this vantage point, visitors can admire the panoramic views of the city while exploring the archaeological site dotted with ancient fortifications and ruins.

As you stroll through Plovdiv, keep an eye out for Roman mosaics, each a testament to the artistic prowess of ancient craftsmen. These intricate designs, some on display at archaeological sites or museums, showcase the beauty and attention to detail valued by the Romans.

The city’s defensive prowess is evident in the remnants of its ancient walls and gates, such as the well-preserved Hisar Kapia (Hisar Gate), an imposing entrance to Philippopolis during Roman times.

Step into the Early Christian Basilica, constructed in the 4th century AD, and discover traces of Plovdiv’s transition from a pagan to a Christian city. This basilica stands as a poignant symbol of the evolving religious landscape of ancient Philippopolis.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Philippopolis became part of the Byzantine Empire and continued to thrive as a center of trade and culture. Later on, it became part of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires, leaving traces of medieval glory across the city.

Plovdiv’s next chapter unfolds with the Ottoman conquest in the late 14th century, ushering in almost five centuries of Ottoman rule. During this time, the city became a melting pot of Ottoman and Bulgarian influences, shaping its unique architecture, cuisine, and traditions.

In 1878, Plovdiv was liberated from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War, becoming part of the newly independent Bulgarian state. This period marked a resurgence of Bulgarian national identity and cultural revival, leading to a blossoming of arts and literature.

Throughout the 20th century, Plovdiv evolved amidst political changes and economic challenges, yet it continued to grow and modernize. In 2019, Plovdiv received a prestigious honor—it was named the European Capital of Culture, celebrating its rich heritage and vibrant arts scene.

Today, Plovdiv stands as a living testament to its storied past, with ancient ruins, medieval architecture, and Ottoman-era buildings blending seamlessly with modern developments. The city’s history is woven into its very fabric, making it a captivating destination where East meets West, offering visitors a fascinating journey through time and culture.