Step 8,000 years back in time in colourful Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A few hours outside the capital Sofia, lies Plovdiv, a city that is split in two by the Maritsa River. The second largest city in Bulgaria is also one of the oldest settlements in the world.


Gita Simonsen


Go 8,000 years back in history! Since the old town of Plovdiv has been so well preserved, you can really take a journey into the past there. Picolo headed to the historic city.

imagePicolo / Adrian Leversby

Old historical houses

A lot of the old buildings in Plovdiv are now museums open to the public.

Plovdiv's old town - wear good shoes

The town starts at the lowest point and takes you up in elevation through narrow cobblestone streets, which lead up to a fantastic vantage point over the entire city. On the way up, you'll see traces from all the ages Plovdiv has witnessed. From antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires, as well as the Soviet era.

There are several museums in the old buildings, where you can experience beautiful works of art, churches, a mosque, mosaics from antiquity, beautifully decorated houses, and more. The city was home to well-known poets, writers and artists, as well as wealthy merchants. The houses in the old town have beautiful and bright colours, which makes the city extra lovely. Our guide tells us that the merchants of the city competed with each other by bringing home the most expensive paint they could find on their travels with which to decorate their houses. The colour of one's house indicated something about the prosperity of the people who lived there.


A city worth visiting

The city was named a European Capital of Culture in 2019 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1970.

The Roman theatre – discovered by chance

Near the top of the old town, you will find The Roman theatre of Philippopolis. Its very well preserved and was built in the first century and seats up to 7,000 spectators. The theatre was discovered by chance following a landslide in the 1970s. The spectacular amphitheatre had been hidden 4.5 metres of soil. Since its discovery it has become a popular tourist destination. Every summer, operas, concerts and plays are held in the old theatre. Read more about the events here.


Small shops with local products

In old town Plovdiv there are plenty of local shops.

Kapana – a modern and relaxed atmosphere

On the border with the old town, you will find the Kapana Art District, which is the creative heart of the city. In the 1990s, this area mostly consisted of car parks and destroyed houses but was completely transformed in 2014 when new businesses entered the area. Today, it is home to a number of cosy cafes, bars, and local shops selling everything from wood art to clothes and edible delicacies.

Hot tip: stop by Chili Hills, a shop specializing in Bulgarian chili. All of the products are made in Bulgaria and are completely preservative-free.


Amazing Bulgarian chili

Maria, owner of Chili Hills, says she loves working with the products. "I think everyone should spice up their life, it's a good way to make your life exciting".

Philippopolis Stadium

If you move to the city centre and the main pedestrian street, you will once again be reminded of the historical heritage of Plovdiv . Just below the shopping street you will find Philippopolis stadium. Once upon a time, 30,000 people watched gladiators fight here. All that remains now are ruins and an entrance, but it is still worth a visit.

The pedestrian shopping street is called Knyaz Alexander and is the city's high street. It is in fact the longest pedestrian street in all of Europe, at 1,750 metres. The street features local and international shops, restaurants, cafés, and the historic Dzhumaya Mosque.


Overlook the city from Plovdiv

After walking up the brick road in the Old Town of Plovdiv, you are rewarded with a great view of the city.