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The City of Seven Hills -Plovdiv

Plovdiv,a beautiful city stooped in ancient history, sits proudly on the banks of the Maritsa River occupying seven hills with the Rhodope Mountains as a backdrop. It lies in southernBulgaria and is the country's second-largest city with a population of 378,107. It is also the administrative centre of Plovdiv Province and used to be the biggest and most significant city in Northern Thrace.

 

Modern architecture coexists with that from some of Bulgaria's most significant historical periods, Roman, Byzantine and National Revival. This city is a hive of activity with a diverse range of entertainment, facilities and cultures.

Transport links to and from the city are excellent. Two key roads run by the city; the Sofia-Edrine-Istanbul highway and the Trakiya motorway, which link Plovdiv to Sofia, Stara Zagora and the coastal city of Bourgas. There are three railway stations and three bus terminals in the city both of which link Plovdiv with the Rhodope and Balkan Mountains, the capital and neighbouring countries. Within the city there is an efficient public transport system of buses and trolleybuses.

 

Plovdiv has its own international airport located on the outskirts of the city, whereby at the end of 2010,due to a reduction in fees compared to Sofia airport made it more attractive to the low cost airline Ryanair.Ryanair launched a new route from London Stanstead to Plovdiv twice a week, Tuesday and Saturdays. There are plans for Plovdiv to Barcelona twice weekly flights at the end of March 2011, followed by flights to Italy from Plovdiv in the near future.

A Dip Back in Time

Plovdiv has a long and rich history and is older than Rome, Athens and Constantinople. Over the centuries it has been inhabited by a wide range of races and cultures and throughout this time has borne many different names. Its Thracian name was Pulpudeva, Eumolpias, its Roman name Trimontium, during Greek rule it was known as Philippoupoli and Philippoupolis, whilst under the Ottoman yoke it was called Filibe. Its current name derives from its medieval Bulgarian name of Plavdiv. Right up until the early 20th century the city was known in Western Europe as Philippopolis. Archaeological finds in the area date the city as a contemporary of Troy. In 342 BC, the father of Alexander the Great, Philip II of Macedon, captured Plovdiv from the Thracians. In 72 AD it was conquered by the Roman General Terentius Varo Lukulus and was integrated into the Roman Empire. The Assyrain writer Lucian called Plovdiv, "The largest and most beautiful of all cities." It thrived under Roman rule and its ancient Roman ruins demonstrate that this was a period of growth and cultural excellence.

During the Middle Ages, Plovdiv was occupied by the Slavs and the ethnic mix of the city changed dramatically. By 681, Plovdiv was an important border fortress, but Khan Krum who incorporated it into the Bulgarian Empire captured it in 812. This brought a short period of stability to the region, which by 970 had disappeared and once again the city was captured and incorporated into the Byzantine Empire. By the 12th century the city was re-conquered and occupied many times by the Bulgarians as well as the Latin and Byzantine Empires. During the 13th century the city returned to Bulgarian rule until it was invaded by the Ottoman Empire in 1364.

Plovdiv was at the heart of the National Revival movement. During that period Plovdiv was a major economic centre on a par with Istanbul. The prosperous economic climate at this time created a strong Bulgarian upper class, which left their mark on the town with a wealth of beautifully constructed houses many of which can still be seen in the Old Town today. Plovdiv was liberated from the Turkish yoke after the Battle of Plovdiv in 1878; however, the Berlin Congress divided the country up and separated the autonomous region of Eastern Rumelia (of which Plovdiv was the capital) from Bulgaria. The unification of Bulgaria was finally declared on 6 September 1885 and Plovdiv finally was handed back to the Bulgarians.


Eating, Drinking, Where to Stay

Plovdiv is a hub of lively restaurants, bars and nightclubs and offers a diverse range of cuisine and music. The Russian Club in midtown is a superb restaurant ideal for all types of celebrations and meetings. It is extremely child friendly with a designated kids' corner and serves a variety of quality Bulgarian and Russian cuisine. There is a quiet garden area where you can dine in summer and adequate parking. In the middle of the Old Town, the Puldin Restaurant captures all of the magic of this historic area. Its traditional décor, circular cafe, and underground restaurant displaying murals from a prominent Communist artist add to the old world charm. The food and service are excellent - the soups are out of this world as is the Chushka Banitsa, a dish of roasted pepper stuffed with feta cheese, herbs and eggs, baked individually on a ceramic dish. Another Old Town gem is the Alafrangues, which offers tasty traditional Bulgarian cuisine. The setting in an old Revival Period house makes it an attractive option with its ceilings and doors richly decorated with woodcarvings and chamber music playing unobtrusively in the background. Its courtyard offers more attractive options for al fresco diners. The Bulborg Pub House is filled with a warm, friendly atmosphere and is a popular meeting place for young people. The menu is varied and service good. Live music plays most nights and the drinking environment is more than welcoming. Another great bar to hang out in is the Bar and Lounge Relax on Leonardo Da Vinci Street.

There is a huge selection of nightclubs playing a wide variety of music from dance to chalga. Some of the notable clubs are the Club Phobia, the pop folk club 4AKARAKA and the Club Plazma.

There are numerous hotels and guest houses offering comfortable accommodation in the area, but some of the most popular are the Alliance Hotel, a modern business type hotel situated in the centre a short walk from the Railway Station and a ten-minute drive from the Plovdiv International Fair, the Famous House Hotel close to the Old Town, which offers 20 rooms and two VIP apartments as well as a bustling lobby bar and a cosy restaurant, which serves Bulgarian and European cuisine prepared by the best chefs in the city or the small Belle Ville Hotel again in the Old Town. This is another authentic Renaissance house renovated in the original style. The hotel has a good restaurant with a pleasant outdoor area shaded by a huge fig tree.