Plovdiv – a traveller’s hidden gem

In recent years Bulgaria has started growing as a destination on the European travelling circuit. The reason why Bulgaria is a holiday destination is because it offers wonderful sunshine on golden beaches in the summer and mountainous getaways with ample skiing opportunities in the winter.

While Bulgaria’s tourism fortunes have changed in the past few years there are still areas of Bulgaria that don’t receive the level of tourism they deserve, one of these places is the old city of Plovdiv.

Plovdiv is a city that defies all logic, yet not many have heard of its wonders. Plovdiv is ranked the 6th oldest inhabited city in the old having become a settlement over six thousand years ago in 4,000 BC. Many would not know but Plovdiv is actually older than Athens and Constantinople.

Even from as far back as the Roman times Plovdiv was seen as a hidden gem, a jewel of the Roman Empire. This is shown through the famous Roman writer Lucian who said: “This is the biggest and loveliest of all cities. Its beauty shines from faraway.”

Unfortunately for people of Western Europe and further afield the beauty of Plovdiv was hidden behind the Iron curtain of Communism for much of the twentieth century and has only really been a viable travel destination for the past decade or so.

Today Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second largest city after the capital Sofia; this means that it is a bustling metropolis that entwines history with modern day design to make for a very interesting and enthralling place. At every turn you will find old next to new as the city has over four hundred historical sites around its main city centre.

The beauty of Plovdiv is how much of its history is still available today; there are places such as a Roman theatre dating back two thousand years that is still used in the summer months for theatrical performances. Other places of interest are the old town full of beautiful renaissance houses from the nineteenth century and the Roman amphitheatre that runs under the main street of the city but can be seen at various places outside and under the floor in one of the main shopping centres, just to mention a few.

If you are looking for a historical get away what you will enjoy about the city of Plovdiv is that it is not a major city on the tourist trail so most of the historical monuments are in natural situ as they were when they were built. This means you can see them in their natural state and at your own leisure without suffering tour guides and large numbers of people.

For those who wish to keep up with modern times Plovdiv offers the best cafes and bars for miles around. You will see many Bulgarians spending hours in the wonderful cafes during the daylight hours then partaking in a beverage at the bars as the light of the sun wanes to become the evening.

Plovdiv carries such a rich history and a forward thinking society. This combines some of the worlds oldest historical monuments with the latest in technology and architecture to create the most interesting experience a traveller could enjoy.

Guy Marlow is a Director at Bear Sole Travel.

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