Culture & Tourism
The oldest living city in Europe
The Thracians founded Plovdiv during the Neolithic period in the 2nd millennium BC. Picturesquely situated in the Thracian Plain, 140 km east of Sofia, built on seven hills, Plovdiv is the oldest living city in Europe and the sixth oldest in the world. Today Plovdiv is still one of the best cities to live in Bulgaria. In 342 BC. Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) led a large military expedition north against the Scythians, leading to the conquest of the Thracian fortress village Evmolpia, to which Philip gave his name (Philippopolis).
This ancient city has an amazing historical and cultural heritage and an incredible Old Town, a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Old Town was built in the 18th and 19th century as a center of Bulgarian Revival architecture. On steep cobbled streets, behind stone walls and forged heavy oak gates, one can see greenery and flowers surrounding the typical Plovdiv symmetrical houses with their painted facades and typical lattice bay windows. Other important sights are the Roman Forum of the 2nd Century, the Roman Stadium and the incredible amphitheater built during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98-117). Other landmarks of the city are the captivating Ethnographic Museum, a beautifully painted church (1832-1836); mosque from the 15th century which is one of the oldest on the Continent.
Sports and recreation
In addition to a number of sports and fitness facilities available in the city, Plovdiv also has one of the largest sports complexes with the largest artificial water canal, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, football fields and tennis courts. The three highest hills in the city are protected areas perfectly suited for hiking, jogging and more. In the very center of the city there is a large garden where there is an opportunity for cycling and other sports activities.
There are more than 50 art galleries in Plovdiv, which are home to valuable works of contemporary Bulgarian art. The city is a cultural center in Bulgaria, supporting the organization and hosting a number of events and the development of industries related to the arts and culture. Major city events include: Museum and Gallery Night held annually, Plovdiv Jazz Fest (part of the annual Autumn Art Salon), Verdi Opera Festival (held at the famous Roman amphitheater), Hills of Rock, One Dance Week.
A concentration of establishments, attractions, arts and crafts studios can be found in the unique Kapana neighborhood. This part of the city center is known for its rich nightlife and emerges as a spontaneous center for new artistic endeavors. Plovdiv Municipality has prioritized the development of Kapana as a creative industries district.
Plovdiv is one of the top ten cities in the world to be visited in 2015 by the world-renowned Lonely Planet Guide Best in Travel 2015.
In September 2014, Plovdiv was selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2019 though the decision of a 13-member international jury. The concept of “Together”, on which Plovdiv’s application is based, has been evaluated as extremely important for the development of the cultural and social life of the city. The concept is cited as a perfect example of successfully combining the historical heritage of the city with the challenges and problems of modern life, with a vision for future development. Behind the project is the ambitious cultural task of uniting people of different generations, ethnicities and beliefs in Plovdiv and the entire South Central region. Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019 is a unique project for Bulgaria, which provides new opportunities for developing the potential of the city and giving new international visibility to Bulgarian culture in general.
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