The living history of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a country on the Black Sea that has a robust history which extends back many thousands of years.  To help preserve the memories of the past, there are a number of Bulgarian towns and cities that are called museum towns, precisely because they have experienced a lot of action over the millennia.

One of those museum towns is Plovdiv, on the twin banks of the River Maritzia, which is fortuitously situated to have been an ancient crossroads between east and west; and which is now Bulgaria’s second largest city.

Plovdiv has been settled for about 6,000 years, but has had many name changes during that time, depending on which particular invader had conquered at the time.

For instance, under the ancient Thracians it was known by the charming name Eumolpia.  Afterwards it spent time as Philippopolis, in order to pay homage to Philip II of Macedon. During Roman times it was Trimontium, the City of Three Hills – which proves that the Romans were no more imaginative than the Macedonians, particularly as the town ranges over seven hills.

However, to give the Romans their due they did built a magnificent amphitheatre which is still in use today.

The Old town of Plovdiv is the centre of an architectural style known as the Bulgarian National Revival.  The town needed re-building after it was destroyed by the huns and invaded by the Byzantines and the Crusaders.

In fact, Plovdiv is so old, some of those ancient hills no longer exist as they’ve disappeared under newer dwellings, which were built on the remnants of older buildings.    

With multi-coloured facades, yoke-shaped bay-windows, abundant decoration and lavish furnishings, softly coloured silhouettes and carved ceilings, Plovdiv’s two – and three-storey houses are as eye-catching as ever, almost resembling small palaces.

Today, Plovdiv is a picturesque town with many parks and gardens.  If anyone is going to conquer it, they will be visitors out to see a city that genuinely does have a full and interesting history.

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