Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, and a major historical, cultural and commercial centre. The city is situated in the central part of Southern Bulgaria, along Maritza River. The city has preserved extremely valuable cultural monuments from the Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Bulgarian Revival coexisting in harmony with contemporary culture.
Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, the city is contemporary of Troy.
Homer, Herodotes and other ancient authors describe the life, traditions and the rich culture of the Tracians, who are the oldest population in the Balkan Peninsula. Many ancient authors speak highly of the Thrace's wine and honey. The gold and silverware and jewelry found show an exceptional skill and high artistic taste. The Thracians have been brave and freedom-loving people. Spartacus, the leader of the biggest slave uprising in the Roman Empire's history is from Thrace.
The first to build a fortified settlement on the three hills were the Thracians and they called it Evmolpia. In 342 BC Philip 2' conquered the settlement, built new walls arround it and called Philipoppolis (City of Philip). The next two centuries the Romans try to take control over Thrace. There were many bloody battles followed by diplomatic issues until at last, by 72 BC, the Roman army leader Terentius Varro Luculus managed to take control over the Maritza River Valley, Philipoppolis included, and the Romans began calling it Trimontium ( The Three Hills City ). Later Trimontium became center ef the vast Trakia Romana Province. In The 2' and 3' centuries the city was declared metropolis of the province with a Senate of its own and All Thracians Assembly ( koinon trakon), was authorized to collect taxes and cut own coins. It was then that Trimontium reached its cultural and economical zenith. The Romans were quick in realizing the strategic location of Trimontium and began building strong, stone paved roads. They built administrative buildings, temples, public baths, stadiums and theatres as well. The city expanded and gradually left the three hills area, inhabiting the valley zone. Trimontium had modern water supply and sewage systems. The city was famous in the province with its large stadium, amphitheatre, public
baths, but the most important building was the Roman Preatorium - the Residence of the Imperial Governor of the Thrace Province, where the Emperor when visiting.
After the distruction of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv became part of the Byzantium.
Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565) renovates the city Trimontium. That century was very important in Plovdiv's history for about in the middle of the 6' century the Slavs came here. They gradually changed the whole ethnic image of the city. If the city, beside being called Trimontium, it was called Ulpia, Flavia and Julia in the Roman times, the Slavs renamed it with its Thracian name of Pulpudeva, but modify it into Puldin or Ploudin from where the present name came.
After forming of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, Plovdiv found itself a border city with an exceptional importance in the incessant fights between the Byzantium Empire and the young Bulgarian State. Plovdiv repeatedly changed hands during the Middle Ages. Khan Krum was the first
to conquer the city in 812 but it was officialy included in the territory of the Bulgarian State by Khan Malamir in 834. Located on the main military route in the Balkan Peninsula -
Via Militaris - during the Middle Ages Plovdiv became part of the stations of the crusaders of the first four crusades.
In 14' century the Turks invade the Balkans and made Constantinopol capital of the Ottoman Empire. In 1364 they took Plovdiv and gave the city a new name - Philibe. Placed in the middle of the Empire, Philibe lost its importance of a border fortress. Gradually and irreversibly all signs and vestiges of the past grandeur disappeared. The Turks began building mosques, inns, guesthouses and public baths. Step by step, Plovdiv turned into a typical oriental city with a particular charm and mystique.
The National Revival awok the Bulgarian spirit. The Bulgarian middle-class grew in number and gradually began playing a key role in society. Doing business with Europe and Russia that part of society was open modern political and cultural influence - it can explane the great importance of education. During the first half of 19' century, along with Istanbul, Thessaloniki and Edirne, Plovdiv became an important econimic centre in the European part of the Ottoman Empire.
By land or by barges in Maritza river, goods from the city reached Thessaloniki and Istanbul, and from there - to the whole world. At the same time Plovdiv was a center of a big handicraft region, which included all most the whole Southeastern Bulgaria. In 1853 the population of the city was 50 000.
Plovdiv entered the Modern Bulgarian history with its historic contribution in two directions - development of the Bulgarian culture and firht for religious independence, which was equal to a peaceful bourgeois revolution. The spread of education was in fact the centrepiece of the Bulgarian national revival and Plovdiv played again a pioneering role in it. The first school was opened here in 1839 and in 1850 the modern, non-religious way of teaching began by opening of the class school "St.St. Cyril and Methodius". The first celebration of the two saint brothers was celebrated here on May 11'1858 thus making it a national holiday of the Slavs lettres and literature. The school soon grew into the first Bulgarian High school in 1868. The greatest Bulgarian intellectuals, political and religious leaders were its graduates.
In 1877 the Russo-Turkish War began. The Russians freed Plovdiv on January 16, 1878. The Treaty of San Stefano, signed on March 3, 1878, founded the Principality of Bulgaria, which included all the lands with predominantly Bulgarian population. The cosmopolitan Plovdiv was the biggest, richest and busiest Bulgarian city, naturaly, was declared capital of the new state and centre of the new Russian Temporary government.
Exhausted by the war, Russia was forced to acquiesce. The treaty was modified by the terms the Treaty of Berlin signed four months later. According to these terms Bulgaria was divided in three parts - Principality of Bulgaria with Sofia as a capital; vassal to the sultan Eastern Rumelia Province with Plovdiv as a capital; and Macedonia, wich was returned outright to Turkey. Sofia became state and political centre, and Plovdiv preserved itself as a culture and industrial centre. Of an exceptional importance for Bulgaria were the institutions founded by that time - library, museum, theatre. At the end of 19th century the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum had the richest Hellenistic collection in the country. Ivan Mrkvichka and Anton Mitov organize that first artistic exhibition in the reading hall of the Plovdiv library. The first choir conducted by Anguel Boucoureshtliev was founded in Plovdiv. Even the First Stenography Congress was held here. The first public park was foundedalso here. The gardener of Napoleon Trois' court and Sultan
Abdul Azis' favorite made small miracles with the urban environment.
The Unification of Bulgaria with Eastern Roumelia was declared in Plovdiv on Septembre 6,1885. The world has been shoked by the Bulgarian's political will, by the mean the Unification was achieved and by the readiness of the young army to take responsability and risks of such an act. After the Unification Plovdiv remains to this day the second most important and biggest city in Bulragia after the capital Sofia.
The first railway was build between the two cities in 1888. In 1892 Plovdiv was a host of the First Bulgarian Exhibition with foreign particion, whose director was the writer Mikhalaki Georgiev. Its inheritor today is the Plovdiv International fair. The first brewery was founded in Plovdiv after the Unification in 1881 - today's Kamenitza. At the beginning of the century Plovdiv grew as a big commercial and industrial center. German, French and Belgian capitals were invested in the city that helped developing a modern commerce and banking systems.There were 16 000 artisants and more than 17 000 workers in the tobacco and food processing factories in Plovdiv by 1939.
In the years of the Second World War Plovdiv continued its growing and in 1943 its population was 119 000. The wartime conditions led expanding of the tobacco processing industry and somewhat onesided orientation of the commerce to the export predomintly of fruits and vegetables.
After declaring of a "symbolic" war to England and United States the main problem in the city was feeding the population. The year 1943 is memorable in the period when 1300 Jews were saved from the deportation after then the Plovdiv Mytropolit (bishop) Ciril - later he became patriarch of Bulgarian - pleaded the Government and the King to not connit such a dreadful act. In the chaos after September 1944, when the power was usurped by the Communists with the active assistance of the Soviet Army, a secret political purge began. Hundreds were shot to death without trial while others disappeared without trace. The so-called "People's Court" - a phenomenon out of any constitutional and law norms - tried 1362 people. 328 of them were found guilty of crimes "Against the nation" and sentenced to death. Their families were relocated. From economic point of view characteristic of that period is the co-operation under Soviet model, nationalization of the private sector, national five-year plans, and orientation to the newly created socialist foreign market. That tendency led to grouping of large masses of workers around big production complexes such as the Non-ferous Metal Production Complex, the Textile Factory, the Tobacco Processing Factory, the Forklift Plant, etc.
The trolleys network, the emblematic Trimontium Hotel, the Plovdiv Stadium and the Soviet Army Monument "Aliosha" were built in the middle of 50's. In the 60's and the 70's the mass building was adobded the rezult was the precast concrete elements blocks of flats.
The 70's and the 80's were a period of commercial building, of health care facilities and archaeological site adaptation.
The political changes after 1989 and the market economy orientation present new challenges and conditions of life in the city of Plovdiv.
We would gladly arrange for any of our guests guided tours of the OLd Town, trips to local sights, restaurant reservations, car rentals... and many other things just to make your stay here unforgettable.