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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in the world.