Wednesday, 05 September 2012 15:11
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Upper Thracian Plain, on the both banks of the Maritsa river. The population of the city is about 350,000 people.
The climate is transitional–continental with mild winters and hot summers. The average temperature in January is +1°С, the average temperature in July is +24°С. The town in its present appearance was built around seven hills – the hills of Plovdiv (Plovdiv Tepes) which are an inseparable part of the city’s history.
Plovdiv was given various names throughout its long history. It was originally a Thracian settlement by the name of Eumolpias, named after the mythical Thracian king Eumolpos, son of Poseidon. Philip II of Macedon conquered the area in 342-341 BC and renamed the city Philippoupolis. After the Romans took control of the area, the city was named Latin: Trimontium, meaning the Three Hills. During the Middle Ages the city was known as Philippoupolis in Byzantine Greek and Paldin or Plavdiv in Old Bulgarian, variations of the town's earlier Thracian name. The city was known as Philippopolis in Western Europe well into the early 20th century. The city was known as Filibe in Turkish during the Ottoman Empire and the name is still in use in Turkish.
Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe – the beginning of its history dates back to 4,000 years BC. In the beginning the ancient settlement was situated on the natural elevation between Nebet, Taksim and Dzhambaz hills (the Three Hills). In ancient times Thracians inhabited the Three Hills and built a fortified settlement – the largest city in Thrace. In the 4th century BC Plovdiv was conquered by Phillip of Macedonia. He gave the city one of its many names – Phillipopolis, and had it surrounded by thick fortified walls. Later the Thracians regained their power over the city, but after a series of battles in the 1st century AD it became a part the Roman Empire.
During the period of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv was an important regional center. The city flourished with a large-scale construction of buildings, facilities and roads. Numerous well-preserved artifacts had remained from those times, such as cobble stoned streets, fortress walls, buildings, water supply and sewerage systems.
The city was returned within the boundaries of the Bulgarian state during the ruling of Khan Malamir (reigned 831 – 836 AD). Over the centuries, the power over the city was passed between the Bulgarians and the Byzantines. The city even briefly became a possession of the knights of the Fourth Crusade. It finally became part of the Bulgarian state in 1344 AD.
During the Bulgarian Revival (18th- 19th century) Plovdiv was an important economic center. The city was home to many wealthy and educated people who travelled across Europe and brought new cultural currents. The rich traders from Plovdiv showed their wealth through the construction of beautiful and richly ornamented houses. Unlike the brick houses from the beginning of the Bulgarian Revival, which were small and practical, later the art of building developed with more imagination and scope, focusing on splendour and detail. Besides being an architectural center, the city is an important cultural center and has a major contribution to the spiritual awakening of Bulgaria.
The city is a large industrial and commercial center. The famous Plovdiv International Fair, which annually hosts the presentation of goods and exchange of contacts and experience between sellers from all around the world, is conducted here. The town hosts theatres, dancing and movie festivals, and the numerous archaeological finds of Thracian, Roman and Byzantine times not only recall the glorious past, but are successfully combined with the modern architecture of the city.
An example of this is the Roman aqueduct, which has become an indispensable part of Komatevsko Shose road; the Amphitheatre was successfully restored and is presently used for performances. The city has several museums – historical, archaeological, ethnographic, and natural science museum, as well as an Art Gallery and a Drama Theatre. One of the most famous landmarks is the architectural complex of the Ancient Plovdiv, where many beautiful houses from the times of the Bulgarian Revival had been preserved and restored. Many of them are inhabited to the present day.
Besides cultural attractions, the city offers very good sports and recreation conditions. On one of the city ends lies a rowing base of Olympic size, which offers great conditions for rowing, running and cycling. In the past there were seven hills in Plovdiv. Nowadays, only six of them are preserved. Markovo hill was turned into pavement for the cobble stoned streets. Those, who decide to count the hills of Plovdiv, should remember that the elevation of the Ancient Plovdiv consists of three hills.
Dzhendem hill, also known as the Hill of Youth is the highest one – it was declared a protected area for its endemic plants and preserved nature. A monument in honor of the Soviet Army was built on the Bunardzhik (Alyosha) hill. Sahat hill – the hill with the clock tower, has become a park, a favored place for couples and youth companies with guitars. A clock tower, dating back to the 16th century, stands on top of it. The other three hills form the Ancient Plovdiv town. All of the Plovdiv hills are well-maintained parks with paths and benches.
Plovdiv has a geographical position which makes it an international transport hub. Three of the ten Pan-European corridors run into or near the city: Corridor IV (Dresden–Bucharest–Sofia-Plovdiv- Istanbul), Corridor VIII (Durrës-Sofia-Plovdiv-Varna/Burgas) and Corridor X (Salzburg–Belgrade-Plovdiv-Istanbul).
Plovdiv has 78 schools including elementary, high, foreign language, mathematics, technical and art schools. There are also 10 private schools and a seminary. There are also six universities and a number of state and private colleges and branches of other universities. Those include Plovdiv University, with 900 lecturers and employees and 13,000 students; the Plovdiv Medical University, the Medical College; the Technical University of Sofia – Branch Plovdiv; the Agricultural University – Plovdiv; the University of Food Technologies; the Academy for Music, Dance and Fine Arts; and others.
The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and a cultural and economic center of southern Bulgaria. There are many accommodation options here – from luxurious hotels to hostels. The main street of the city offers excellent opportunities for entertainment and shopping; the restaurants options are numerous.