Plovdiv is a unique blend of history and modernity. Only a few cities in the world can be proud of such a rich historical heritage.
History of Plovdiv
The city is situated amidst lush Thrace and it has existed for thousands of years. According to many scholars, it is a contemporary of Homer’s Troy.
Plovdiv has changed many names during its long existence.
The first fortified settlement at these lands was founded by the Thracians, who called it Evmolpia. Later, Philip of Macedonia – the father of Alexander the Great, conquered it and gave it its name – Philippopolis. During Roman times, the city was named Trimontium.
Once the Slavs settled here, they gave the city a new name – Paldin. During the five-century-long Ottoman Dominion, the city was named Filibe, and nowadays it is called Plovdiv – aname, chosen after the modification of the Slavic name.
What to visit in Plovdiv ?
In order to explore the city and all its attractions, you will need at least 2-3 days. Most of its sites are concentrated in the Old Town. There is the ancient theater, built in the second century AD.
It is located between Taksim and Dzhambaz hills and is exceptionally well preserved.
After careful restoration of the ancient theater, nowadays it is open for performances. The theater hosts numerous theatrical and musical performances. Its splendid acoustics is due to its magnificent architecture.
Top place to see in Plovdiv
Another interesting monument is the Roman stadium, located below the main street in the downtown – Dzhumaya square.
It was also built during the second century AD. In the past there were held sport events, gladiator and animal fights. The stadium could accommodate up to 30,000 spectators.
The Ancient Forum also dates back to Roman times.
It is located near the Central Square, near the Central Post Office. Built in the 1st century, during the reign of Emperor Vespasiyan. It is a complex of buildings, a library, minting house, an odeon, etc.
The eastern gate of the fortress walls – the famous Hissar Kapiya in the Ancient Plovdiv, has remained since the Middle Ages.
There are several floors of layered construction, bearing the characteristics of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, the Ottoman period and the Bulgarian Revival.
The city has several museums – History Museum, Archaeology Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Natural History Museum and an Art Gallery. Each of them is proud for its unique collections and exhibits.
Travel Map of Plovdiv
As a city where people live peacefully with different religions, Plovdiv is very rich in temples. The Orthodox Christians are proud of their old churches – the Metropolitan temple St. Marina, the churches St. Petka, St. Konstantin and St. Helena, etc.
The Catholic community is served by the Cathedral of St. Ludwig, and the Muslims have Dzhumaya mosque – a building with remarkable architecture.
Plovdiv is a city which eagerly keeps its past, but lives in the present.
The town is very lively, with numerous pubs, restaurants, clubs and hotels. Its main street is a place where you can find the latest trends in fashionable boutiques and stores.
Video guide – Top Things to See & Do in Plovdiv
Here is a quick guide for your visit to Plovdiv
Restaurants in Plovdiv
There’s no shortage of places to eat or drink in Plovdiv with some great new places opening up in recent years, particularly in and around Kapana.
Overall the quality of food and variety on offer is also improving although dining experiences can still be a bit of a hit or miss affair and most people opt for the safety of pizzerias of which there are plenty of good ones.
We have personally checked out many of the restaurants here and encourage you to check them out for yourselves. In the Old Town most of the restaurants are fancy and on the expensive side and there are few places to buy a snack.
On and near the main pedestrian street you will find all manner of snack bars, cafes serving food, pizzerias and take away such as pizza slices, doner kebabs, cardboard cups of hot sweetcorn and more.
Arriving & Getting Around
The city centre, with its numerous points of interest, is fairly spread out and that, combined with the hot climate, means you can easily exhaust yourself walking from one to the other.
One good way to get around the sights following what is no doubt the most logical route is to take the free walking tour that is put on every Wednesday morning and afternoon by the Tourist Information Centre.
Luckily there are cafes and bars literally everywhere so you can take frequent breaks. Bear in mind that you are best using the bathroom here, though unlike most Bulgarian cities Plovdiv does have some decent public toilets.
DRIVING IN PLOVDIV
Getting to Plovdiv by car is relatively easy compared to getting around by car once you have arrived. Much of the centre is with restricted car access, pedestrianised areas and one way streets. Street signs are hard to discover!
To be honest if you book accommodation in the city centre (preferably with car park option) you do not really need to use your car, as most of the attractions are within walking distance of one another.
If visiting for the day, parking can be something of a problem, with most of the city centre designated ‘Blue Zone’, at a cost of 1 lev per hour. You can usually find a parking.
ARRIVING BY CAR
In all there are three exits for Plovdiv on the Trakia motorway, the second one (blue route 64) being the most direct if you want to get to the city centre.
Past various industrial units and car showrooms – you will need to take a left at bul. Bulgaria and then right at the next roundabout past the Plovdiv Fairgrounds.
The speed limit is 50 km/h within the city limits, and 90 km/h on the main roads out of town. Motorway varies between 120-140 km/h depending on road conditions
“Come with friends! It’s a city to experience…”
See more: 3 minute Plovdiv – Video travel guide of Plovdiv