Bulgarian Plovdiv

Plovdiv

Plovdiv (Bulgaria) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Plovdiv with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

City of Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

Plovdiv is one of the largest and oldest cities in Bulgaria, which is known for its magnificent ancient monuments and historical center in the style of Bulgarian Revival. It is located in the southern part of the country between the Rhodope Mountains and the Balkan Mountains. Plovdiv is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. It is believed that it was founded 8,000 years ago. Modern Plovdiv is one of the main tourist and cultural centers of Bulgaria, which offers the tourist an impressive array of attractions, from antiquity to the Middle Ages and modern times.

Things to do (Plovdiv):

From Sofia to Plovdiv - a journey through the millennium

€235 per excursion

From Sofia to Plovdiv – journey through millenniums

Immerse yourself in Bulgarian color and feel the breath of Antiquity in the open-air museum

Geography and climate

Plovdiv is situated in the center of the Upper Thracian Lowlands between the Rhodope Mountains and the Balkan Mountains. The city is situated 150 km southeast of Sofia on the Maritsa River. Plovdiv is spread over six hills. There used to be seven hills, but Markov Hill was leveled to the ground in the process of quarrying stone for the construction of a fast-growing city.

Plovdiv has a moderate continental climate with warm summers and cool winters. The greatest amount of precipitation falls in spring and late fall. In winter, there can be both palpable frost and prolonged thaws.

Snow in Plovdiv

Snow in Plovdiv

For tourists

  1. Population – 367 thousand people.
  2. Area – 110 km².
  3. Currency – Bulgarian lev.
  4. Language – Bulgarian.
  5. Time – UTC +2, in summer +3.
  6. Average altitude – 164 m.
  7. Plovdiv is famous for its good inexpensive restaurants and eateries, which are scattered in abundance in the historic center.
  8. The center of the night life is district Kapan.
  9. Plovdiv is a very safe city. Only the gypsy district of Stolipinovo should be avoided.

History

Plovdiv is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, founded about 8 thousand years ago. Already in 1200 BC there was a Thracian city, which in the 4th century BC was conquered by the Macedonian king Philip II and was called Philippopolis. In the 1st century AD. Plovdiv became part of the Roman Empire and was given a new name, Trimontium.

During the Roman period the city was one of the most important cities in the Balkan Peninsula. The Romans built here hippodrome, aqueduct, thermae and amphitheater. In the 3rd century the city was destroyed by the Goths. At the end of the 4th century Plovdiv became part of the Byzantine Empire, and half a century later was practically destroyed by the Huns.

Roman ruins in Plovdiv

Roman ruins in Plovdiv

Plovdiv was rebuilt under Justinian and considerably fortified. In the 9th century the city became part of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. In the 11th century it was first mentioned under its modern name. At the end of the 11th century Plovdiv suffered from the raids of the Pechenegs and was again destroyed during the Third Crusade. In the 13th century Plovdiv became part of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

In 1364 the city was captured by the Ottomans, who demolished all its fortifications. From that time Plovdiv developed as a commercial center. In the 19th century Plovdiv becomes the center of the Bulgarian Revival (Bulgarian struggle for independence). In 1878, Plovdiv was occupied by Russian troops and declared the capital of Eastern Rumelia, which eventually joined the Bulgarian Principality. The city was severely destroyed by an earthquake in 1928. At the beginning of World War II Plovdiv was the center of the movement for union with the USSR.

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How to get there

Plovdiv has an international airport, which is connected to London, Frankfurt and Moscow (Domodedovo). By train you can get to Plovdiv from Sofia and Istanbul. There are bus connections to almost all cities in Bulgaria, as well as to some major cities in Turkey and Greece.

The Streets of the Old Town

The streets of the old city

Plovdiv sights

Old Town of Plovdiv

Plovdiv Old Town

The old city of Plovdiv is situated on three hills. It is famous for its charming cobblestone streets and beautiful Bulgarian National Revival style houses with charming wooden balconies as well as ancient historical and cultural monuments. Most of the buildings in the historic center date back to the 19th century, while some landmarks in Plovdiv were built more than a thousand and a half years ago.

In summer, we recommend a visit to King Simeon Park with its beautiful singing fountain.

Roman theater

Roman Theater

The Roman theater is one of the main attractions in Plovdiv and one of the best ancient buildings on the Balkans. It is also considered to be one of the best preserved ancient theaters from the Roman period. The majestic structure was built in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Domitian. It is believed to have hosted theatrical performances and famous gladiatorial fights. The theater itself is still used for opera and music performances and can seat about 7,000 spectators.

Interestingly, the theater was only discovered in the 1980s of the 20th century when a landslide occurred on the hill.

Stadium

Stadium

The stadium is another impressive structure from the Roman period, dating back to the 2nd century AD. The stadium used to hold 30,000 spectators. Now it is only fragments of a once impressive structure.

Ruins of Plovdiv forum

Ruins of the Plovdiv Forum

Next to the Plovdiv Post Office are the ruins of a Roman forum – the public and political center of ancient Trimontium. There are fragments of Doric columns and ruins of an odeon (a building for musical performances where the city council used to meet).

For a look into Plovdiv’s ancient history we recommend visiting the Nebet Tepe Archaeological Complex – a place where the ancient city with fragments of old walls, towers and other buildings used to stand.

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Basilica

St. Louis (Louis) Cathedral is one of the largest Catholic churches in Bulgaria, built in the 19th century. The church combines neoclassical architecture with baroque elements and is decorated with beautiful frescoes.

Church of St. Konstantin and Elena

Church of St. Konstantin and Elena

The Church of St. Konstantin and Elena is one of the main sacral monuments and a symbol of Plovdiv. The church was founded in the 4th century and is dedicated to Emperor Constantine, who not only actually founded the Eastern Roman Empire, but also issued a decree on freedom of religion. This allowed Christianity to become the official religion of Byzantium. The interior of the church is in the 19th-century Bulgarian National Revival style and is decorated in a sumptuous neo-Baroque style.

The Church of Our Lady

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an Orthodox church on one of the six hills of Plovdiv (Nebet Tepe). The first religious building was built on this site back in the 9th century. In the 12th century the church was renovated and became part of the monastery. The monastery and church were destroyed in the 14th century by the Ottomans. The present building (a large three-nave pseudo-basilica) was built in 1844. The Church of the Blessed Virgin is considered the main religious building in Plovdiv.

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Clock Tower

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower is a fortified tower, which crowns the Sahat Tepe hill. It was built in the first half of the 17th century.

Juma Mosque

Juma Mosque

The Juma Mosque is the main mosque of the city during the Ottoman period. It was built by the Ottomans immediately after the capture of Plovdiv on the site of a Christian cathedral. A few centuries later (during the reign of Murad II) the building was rebuilt.

Interesting museums in Plovdiv:

  • The Historical Museum covers the history of Plovdiv from the 15th to 19th centuries.
  • The Archaeological Museum includes Thracian, Greek, and Roman art, including: jewelry, amulets, vases, and coins.
  • The Ethnographic Museum is located in an old house in the style of Bulgarian Baroque architecture. It is one of the largest museums in Bulgaria with exhibits including valuable furniture, paintings and frescoes.

Plovdiv neighborhood sights

Bachkova Monastery

Bachkovo Monastery

Bachkovo Monastery is the second largest and oldest orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, combining Bulgarian, Georgian and Byzantine religious traditions. The monastery was founded in the 11th century and is considered a national shrine. It is known for its medieval frescoes of the 14th century and ancient icons. Bachkovo Monastery is located southeast of Plovdiv near the town of Asenovgrad.

Asenova Fortress

Asenova Fortress

Asenova Fortress is the impressive ruins of a medieval castle above the Asenitsa River, built on limestone cliffs. The walls of the fortress zigzag down the steep mountain slopes, protecting the valley. This place was a stronghold of defense in Thracian times. What can be seen today dates back to the 12th/13th century. The best preserved one is the medieval church with frescoes from the 14th century.

Interesting tours

Night Worlds of Varna

€100 per excursion

Night Worlds of Varna

Learn about local life on a stroll through the Old Town and the harbor in the magical light of lanterns

Serdika - Ancient Sofia. Journey to the depth of centuries

Nadia 5 5

From €75 for the tour

Serdika – Ancient Sofia. Journey to the depths of centuries

Get in touch with the history of Ancient Sofia and experience the real atmosphere of the city

Plovdiv

Plovdiv (formerly Filippopol) is the second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and the administrative center of Plovdiv region. The city is situated in the south of the country, approximately 150 kilometers from the capital and stands on the Maritsa River, which divides it into two parts. Like Rome, the settlement was erected on seven hills, three of which can still be seen today: Bunardzhik, the official name of the “Hill of the Liberator,” Dzhendem Tepe or Hell Hill and Sahat Tepe. The total area of the city is 110 sq km.

Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, because the first settlements in this area date back to the Neolithic Era and are dated to approximately 6000 BC It is known that around 1200 BC the Thracians lived in the city, and in 72 BC the city was occupied by legionaries of the Roman general, and after 27 years Philippopol (now Plovdiv) became part of the Roman Empire and for several centuries became a strong and strategic point of the Romans. Around 250, Filippopolis suffered heavily from the raids of the Goths, in 395 it became part of the Byzantine Empire and half a century later was devastated by the Huns.

Under Emperor Justinian the Great the city was restored and additionally fortified, but despite this, in 812 the army of the Bulgarian Khan Krum succeeded in taking the settlement, after which it became part of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. After that it underwent many more raids and it constantly changed hands, fell into disrepair and changed its name several times.

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When Bulgaria was under the Ottoman Empire, Plovdiv became the center of the Bulgarian national liberation movement, where in 1869 created a revolutionary committee. Residents took part in the April Uprising of 1876, but it was suppressed by the Turkish authorities.

During the Russian-Turkish war (1877-1878) the city was liberated by a detachment of the Russian army. After that it became the capital of Eastern Rumelia, which united with the Principality of Bulgaria in 1885.

After the outbreak of World War II, Plovdiv was the center of the movement for the union of Bulgaria and the USSR, while on March 1, 1941 Bulgaria joined the “Axis” alliance, after which the German military arrived in Plovdiv and the city became the main base of the fascists in the country. Despite the large-scale uprooting of the city, which resulted in the destruction of all communist organizations, the resistance movement in Plovdiv had not been completely annihilated. The BKP militant group boldly operated in the city, undermining the functioning of the German troops in every way possible.

After the end of the war the city began to actively develop its infrastructure: several factories were launched, the opera house and the summer theater were opened, a sports stadium was opened, and in 1954-1956 trolleybuses began to run through the city.

Founded: circa 1200 BC. Area: 101.98 km 2 Population: 345 213 (2014) Currency: Bulgarian lev Language: Bulgarian Official website: http://www.plovdiv.bg/

Flight time: (nearest airport is Sofia, 140 km) from Moscow – from 3 hours 20 min. from Saint-Petersburg – from 6 hours 5 min. (1-2 connections) from Kazan – from 7 hours 10 min. (1-2 connections) from Ekaterinburg – from 8 hours 20 min. (1-2 connections) from Novosibirsk – from 9 hours 45 min. (1-3 connections)

Plovdiv today is not only an ancient city where you can explore the samples of Balkan architecture of the century before last, but also the capital of modern Bulgarian art. There are many art galleries, archaeological, natural science and ethnographic museums, and several theaters.

How to get there

Since Plovdiv is a railway and highway junction, it is easy to get to the city from any part of the country.

From Sofia to Plovdiv

If you’re a budget traveler, the best way to get from the capital to Plovdiv is by train. Tickets cost only 4 – 5 euros, but the trip will take 3 hours and 38 minutes. The website of the Bulgarian Railways.

The most comfortable and easy way is by cab. It is good for a large company, because such a service will cost at least 60 euros, and if you divide the amount by the number of seats in the car, it turns out quite affordable.

The best way to get from the capital of Bulgaria to Plovdiv is by bus. This route lasts 1 hour and 42 minutes and trips are made every 3 hours. The cost of the ticket depends on the departure time you choose, on average, the price will be about 12 levs or 430 rubles. You can buy tickets for the bus online, on the website of the carrier.

From Burgas to Plovdiv

From the resort town of Burgas to the historic city of Plovdiv can be reached by bus for 10-15 euros. For this purpose, it is worth buying a ticket in advance on the website of the carrier. Buses from Burgas, as well as from Sofia, depart every three hours, but the travel time increases to 4 hours. For the train tickets are cheaper – 7-8 euros and travel time increases by only 10 minutes compared with the bus, but the train from Burgas to Plovdiv runs once a day. If you have your own car or if you decide to rent a car, it will cost you 20 liters of gasoline, which is about 21-35 euros per trip, not including the cost of rental car.

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From Varna to Plovdiv

There are no direct flights from Varna to Plovdiv, so if you want to overcome this distance by air, you have to fly to Sofia, and from the capital still get by ground transport.

Direct buses from Varna to Plovdiv are operated only by Avtoekspres and depart once a day. Such a route takes 8 hours and costs 16-19 euros (the carrier’s website).

The best way to get to your destination in this case is the train. The ticket costs 8-10 euros and the travel time is only 5 hours and 38 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you can get from Varna to Plovdiv by car in 4 hours spending 30-50 euros for gas.

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Climate and weather in Plovdiv

The climate in Plovdiv is near subtropical. The tourist season begins in early May and ends in late September, when the temperature drops below 20 degrees. The average daily temperature of July is 31 degrees, the hottest month is August, and the rainiest month is May. Autumn in Plovdiv is long and sunny, and winter is short and mild. The average temperature in January is 0 degrees.

Given the fact that tourists go to Plovdiv primarily to enjoy the local architecture, views and visit museums, rather than to sunbathe on the beach, because the city is far from the sea, it is safe to say that guests of the city will be happy at any time of year.

Weather forecast

Weather in Plovdiv by Month

Temperature during the day, °C Temperature at night, °C Precipitation, mm
January 4 -2 30
February 6 30
March 11 2 40
April 17 7 40
May 22 12 60
June 27 16 60
July 29 17 40
August 28 17 30
September 25 13 30
October 18 8 30
November 10 2 40
December 6 40

Transportation

There are 29 lines of buses and 10 lines of fixed-route cabs in the city, which are operated by five private companies: “Hebros Bus”, “Meritrans”, “Autotrans Cholakov”, “Avtobusni Prevozi” and KZT “Zlatanovi”.

Public transportation hours: 5:00 – 22:30. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver. The price is 1 lev (about 36 rubles). Guests of the city note the good quality of the local roads.

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You can get from the city center to the airport of Plovdiv by a shuttle bus number 2. The trip will take 49 minutes and you will have to pay 1.50 lev.

You can plan your route to any place in the city and you will be shown which buses you should take and where you should change.

Plovdiv Photos

What to see in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is an ancient city with a rich history, so there are many places of interest: unique historical monuments, modern entertainment centers, theaters, exhibitions, churches, mosques and beautiful nature that attract thousands of tourists to the city each year.

This city will be of interest to fans of historical and cultural tourism. With its rich antiquity, colorful Middle Ages and unique structures of the Bulgarian Revival period it offers to embark on an exciting journey through time. You should have comfortable shoes and sneakers – you will have to walk a lot, because most of the main and the most beautiful streets of the city are closed for traffic.

The modern center of Plovdiv is built on authentic Roman streets and is a kind of a line that divides the old and new parts of the city. Therefore, it is said that the city leads a double life, past and present.

Prince Alexander I Street (Knyaz Alexander I-vi) is the main pedestrian street in Plovdiv, with charming 19th century houses with modern restaurants, stores of popular brands and rich souvenir shops. And at the very beginning of the street, on Dzhumayata square, there is one of the most popular attractions of the city – the ancient Philipopolis Stadium. It is located below the street itself, with the stadium seating in 14 marble rows raised on supports in the form of lion’s paws.

Not far from the antique stadium there is an antique theater, or amphitheater, which was built at the beginning of the II century, very well preserved, and if you want to feel like a real resident of the past, you must look here, because in the restored attractions are again held performances.

Since Plovdiv has sheltered people of different religions, religious temples are also diverse; the central mosque of the city, which can be seen on the right side of the ancient stadium, is quite in harmony with the ancient temple of Saints Constantine and Helena, located on the fortress wall of the Acropolis.

It is better to evaluate the combination of different architectural styles from the high ground. Be sure to go up to the monument “Alesha,” which offers an excellent view of the city. You can go up a steep staircase and after enjoying the views, take the paved road down to the park of Bunardzhik.

The ethnographic museum is a real treat for the tourists as it demonstrates the way of life, household items and culture of the Bulgarian people, the historical museum with more than 60 thousand exhibits, the Natural Museum – the second largest museum in Bulgaria, and the museum of aviation with two large expositions. Connoisseurs of painting cannot pass by the Art Gallery in Plovdiv, which has more than 200 paintings, each of them demonstrating specific historical moments and directly related to the development of painting in the Balkans.

When you get tired of traveling through time and exploring museum exhibits, you can check out the local Aqualand water park or drive to the nearby spa town Bani with plenty of mineral pools and a beautiful park, where you can also buy locally produced aromatic oils.

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