The Guardian marks Plovdiv as one of “the best European city breaks with a difference”

The Guardian marks Plovdiv as one of “the best European city breaks with a difference”

Content from The Guardian

Plovdiv, Bulgaria – BEST FOR ART AND CULTURE

Bulgaria’s second city has a good claim to being Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited centre. Its glory days were under the Romans – who left a marbled hillside amphitheatre and 200,000 square metres of elaborate mosaics inside the Bishop’s Basilica (reopened last year after two decades of stop-start restoration).

The old town is home to colourful 19th-century buildings whose larger second storeys teeter towards one another. Amid so much antiquity are many modern-art spaces. The most influential contemporary gallery is Sariev, a large white cube whose proprietor, Katrin Sarieva, developed the Alternative Map of Plovdiv, with various free-to-download routes introducing unsung corners of the city.

Drone view of The Ancient Theatre, 1st century BC and a portion of the Old Town

In the time-trapped Hadji Hassan Mahala neighbourhood, for example, Roma residents still use horse-drawn wagons. The city is built on six hills: the finest view is from leafy Bunardzhik, which also sports a typically whopping statue of a machine gun-toting Soviet soldier.

Any saunter should take in pedestrianised, cobblestone Kapana. This once-derelict quarter is now a pedestrianised area with low prices. Every effortlessly cool craft-beer bar (Cat & Mouse), coffee house (Craftex), shoe store (Piuma d’Oro) and natty handicraft shop (Rakodelnicata) is affordable and ultra laid-back. Also here is the city’s most in-demand restaurant, Pavaj, which uses fresh local produce for sophisticated versions of Balkan classics. Its fiery fruit brandies are fun to try, too.

Velislav Kasamov is an excellent English-speaking guide to the city. Hotel Evmolpia has 10 boutique-meets-traditional rooms three minutes’ stroll from Kapana

Kapana Creative District

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