plovdiv

Walk: Plovdiv history

With some of the finest examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture in Bulgaria, the old district of Plovdiv is a picturesque place to wander. This 3km walk will take you from the modern centre to the oldest existing remains of the city, while allowing you to really soak in the street atmosphere. Wear comfortable shoes as the traditional cobbles of the 19th-century district are uneven and can be slippery in wet weather.
Allow 4 hours with visits.

Start at square “Tsentralen”, the rather dowdy heart of the modern city, marked by the Trimontium Princess Hotel and a monstrosity of a post office building.

1 Roman forum
Just behind (to the north of) the post office are the excavated remains of the Roman forum.
From the square, walk north up ul. Knyaz Alexander Battenberg, the main shopping street of Plovdiv, with a few international high-street brand names you might recognise.

2 Mosque square
At the top of Battenberg you’ll spot the minaret of the Dzhumaya Mosque, one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city. The small square beside the mosque is filled with artists’ stalls. The square is dominated by a column supporting a stylised modern statue of a Roman Caesar and one look below ground level into the underpass reveals why – this is also the site of the Roman stadium, parts of which now poke out from underneath later buildings. From the mosque square take ul. Saborna (right and behind the mosque from the direction you entered), from where you’ll begin to climb into the 19th-century district. Saborna is renowned for its antique shops.

3 Danov House
Danov House sits on the right here in a shady garden. The mansion was owned by celebrated writer and publisher Hristo Danov and its displays showcase the lives of several other Bulgarian authors. Take the first right beyond Danov House, in front of the Church of the Holy Virgin, then second right (behind the church) along ul. Samokov and right again to ul. Tsar Ivailo to find the Roman Amphitheatre.

4 Roman amphitheatre
Built in the 2nd century AD and only rediscovered in 1972 following a landslide in the city, today the amphitheatre has been renovated and plays host to open-air performances in the summer. From the amphitheatre retrace your steps back to Saborna and continue uphill.

5 State Gallery of Fine Arts
The neoclassical State Gallery of Fine Arts appears on the right. This displays a fine collection of Bulgarian art from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Beyond this is the Old Hippocrates Pharmacy. If it isn’t open at least you can look through the windows. Continue up Saborna and you’ll find the Church of Sts Konstantin and Elena at the brow of the hill.

6 Church of Sts Konstantin and Elena
This is the oldest church in the city, having been founded in 337 by the t Roman Emperor Constantine, though the extravagant murals date from the 1830s when the church was last rebuilt.
It is at this point that the best of Plovdiv reveals itself. Narrow cobbled streets run off left and right, tempting you to leave the main route — each with its own fine buildings worthy of attention. Our route continues uphill along ul. Dr Chumakov

7 Ethnographical Museum
On the southeast corner of Chumakov is the Ethnographical Museum, with a series of excellent displays on Bulgarian traditional customs. Continue past the museum, walking past endearing but unrenovated National Revival mansions, some still as family homes, to reach the summit.

8 Nebet Tepe
Atop the hill are the remains of the old Thracian settlement of Eumolpias, with wonderful vistas over the whole city.

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