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The hidden gem called Plovdiv

Plovdiv City is found in the province of Plovdiv and is the second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia. Even though Plovdiv is the second city in Bulgaria, if you ask any number of people outside of the country they are likely to say they have not heard of the city; or, if they have, do not know anything about the great past of Plovdiv. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe; it is actually older than well known cities in Europe such as Rome or Constantinople.

Brief history of Plovdiv

The history of Plovdiv can be dated back to over 4000 BC when the Thracians made a settlement on the Maritsa River; evidence of this is shown through the many artifacts found. Over time the Thracian settlement of Plovdiv grew and according to the Roman Historian Ammianus Marcellinus it became a large fortified settlement called Eumolpias.

By 342 BC Eumolpias fell under the rule Philip II of Macedon after he conquered the city, the city was then renamed to Philippopolis or "the city of Philip". The Thracians did manage to reclaim their city and gave it the Thracian name of Pulpudeva.

In 72 AD the Roman Empire, ever wanting to expand their lands, took control of Plovdiv and renamed the city Trimontium which means the city of three hills (today the city is seen to have many more than three hills).

After the Romans a period of time were information about Plovdiv is scant came about, this is until the seventh century when the Slavs moved into the area and created Bulgaria in 681. During this period Plovdiv was actually under Byzantine rule, not Bulgarian, and was seen as an important fortress in the defense of the Byzantine border.

By 812 Plovdiv was annexed into the Bulgarian Empire after the great Khan Krum defeated and took the lands from the Byzantine Empire.

Plovdiv was a land that changed hands many times over the coming five hundred years as the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria took and lost Plovdiv on numerous occasions in hard fought battles.

It was in 1364 that the history of Plovdiv changed as it fell under Ottoman Turkish rule like that of the whole of Bulgaria and the city was renamed Filibe.

The city stayed under Ottoman rule until the Battle of Plovdiv in 1878 when it was liberated. Liberation didn’t go according to plan for Bulgaria as the Treaty of San Stefano called for Bulgaria to be split into several parts with the region in which Plovdiv is found to be named Eastern Rumelia. Eastern Rumelia appointed Plovdiv as its capital and was still run by the Ottoman Empire.

On the 6th September 1878, today known as “The Day of Plovdiv” or “Unification Day” Bulgaria was finally joined back as one whole and Plovdiv was again in the hands of Mother Bulgaria.

Present Day

Since 1878 Plovdiv has grown to become the second largest city in Bulgaria and an economic giant in the Balkan region, the economy is mainly boosted by Retail, manufacture and commercial business. Interestingly Plovdiv has never developed an economy based on foreign tourism, even with its rich history.

Because of Plovdiv’s grand history and the importance of the city to those who ruled her, the city has a huge number of historical sites to visit.

A simple walk around the city will open the eyes of any visitor as you wander past the renaissance houses of the old town, the Roman Theatre situated on a hill above the city, and the Roman Stadium buried under the main street among other great historical monuments.

The interesting aspect of present day Plovdiv is the wonderful way in which old history intertwines with present day innovation; this is shown as old buildings sit next to huge business centres and fashionable shops. In the Excelsior Mall off the main street you can even see through the floor at certain sections to reveal the old Roman Stadium below.


Plovdiv is an amazing and vibrant city where old history mixes with present day innovation to create the most wonderful and eye catching place to visit.

Over time tourism will grow in the city and this powerhouse in the history of Bulgaria and the growth of European civilization will reveal herself to the rest of the world.

This article about Plovdiv City was written by Guy Marlow, the owner and founder of Great Plovdiv, a website all about the province of Plovdiv.